JOSEPH —Things are looking up for the Wallowa County Farmers Market held Saturday, May 30, next to the Stein Distillery on North Main Street in Joseph. The market opened on Memorial Day weekend and will continue each Saturday through Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Kimi Starner, who returned as manager this year after a hiatus since 2014, said 217 people stopped in the market Saturday, as opposed to 313 the week before.
“That’s pretty good for it not being a holiday weekend,” she said. “I had a couple of vendors who said that between the two weekends, they’d had their best sales ever.”
Six vendors set up shop the first weekend and seven last weekend, Starner said. They included Alder Slope Nursery, with a variety of healthy vegetable garden plants, including tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers and a variety of herbs. If you were looking for produce to take home and eat, they offered lettuce, rhubarb and salad greens. Young flowering plants added color and variety to their generously sized booth.
Beth Gibans brought an even larger variety of produce from her Backyard Gardens, as well as robust vegetables ready to plant and produce. “We had spring salad mix, spinach, baby mustard greens, scallions, radishes, Bok Choi, chives, vegetable and herb plant starts (lots of varieties of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants), and rhubarb, herbs, and garlic scapes from Little Hill Farm and asparagus from Milton Freewater,” she said. “Also, I had some prepared foods to highlight Backyard Gardens catering including a spanakopita tart, rhubarb coffeecake, hummus, granola, and an asian chile sauce. I should have more of the same coming up though we suffered significant damage in the hail storm which will affect our upcoming crops.”
Other vendors included Sally B Farm with goats milk soap, Annie’s Southfork Jewelry, Sammy’s BBQ, a vendor who made carved wooden wares, and Well Bread with homemade breads and pastries.
While the main sign at the county’s largest farmers market welcomes all, another sign inside placed COVID-19-related limits on attendance. No children or pets were allowed and only one person per household was allowed. Those who did come were urged to maintain social distancing of 6 feet from each other and from vendors.
“Everybody was nervous because of the COVID-19,” Starner said.
But that didn’t stop vendors or visitors. She said mornings were largely filled with Wallowa County residents shopping, while afternoon visitors included more people from La Grande, Pendleton, Portland and other places, she said.
“I know next week we’ll see more vegetable garden plant starts as we get further from the frost season,” she said.
The market had the usual produce, crafts and jewelry and next week Starner is expecting other types of items, as well. She said there may be a booth selling metal work next week.
Vendors pay $20 a week or can pay for the entire season at $15 a week. Online registrations are accepted.