Farmers’ Market Begins

Beginning the season on a cool-breeze sunny day, the Farmers’ Market in Sweet Home opened its weekly vendor space May 14.

Open every Tuesday from now through October, local farmers, hobbyists and food makers may be found selling their home-grown products across from the library at 1141 12th Ave.

Some young girls sit in the shade while Los 3 Tamales sells food from their booth at Farmers’ Market on May 14. Photos by Sarah Brown

Farmers’ Market offers a way for seniors and WIC members to buy fresh produce from participating vendors through the Oregon Farm Direct Nutrition Program. On-site Market Manager Chris Bayne explained that WIC members can ask their local WIC clinic or call 211 to sign up for the program, and seniors can call 1.866.299.3562. He believes qualifying persons will receive up to $24 a month in “Farm Direct Dollars”

Bayne said they see a lot of the “dollars” get used each year. He emphasized not all vendors accept them, but he is aware of at least three that do – Green Bridge Gardens, The Bayne Farm and Wright Family Farm.

For SNAP recipients, Farmers’ Market also provides grant-funded “Double Up Food Bucks,” which essentially turn $20 into $40.

“We take the $20 off the (EBT) card and we match up to $20,” Bayne said. “So every week I can match up to $20 off your EBT card and give you $40 to spend here at the market.”

Those who utilize this program receive wooden tokens from SNAP that are good for meat, honey, baked goods, canned goods, and fresh fruits and vegetables. They also receive paper vouchers from Farmers’ Market good for beans, herbs, mushrooms, veggie starts, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The tokens, accepted by most vendors, are good at both Sweet Home and Lebanon Farmers’ Market, while the vouchers are good at any farmers market in Oregon that participate in the Double Up program.

Customers purchase plants from The Bayne Farm booth.

“It’s a great program,” Bayne said, adding that SNAP recipients can actually “double up” at Sweet Home and then go to the Lebanon market on Thursday to “double up” again.

On the first day, products available to buy included meat, nuts, eggs, vegetables and vegetable plants, honey, flowers, mushrooms, baked goods, tamales, canned peaches, applesauce, strawberries and herbs, as well as live music performed by James Wright.

“I like that I’m supporting local businesses and that things are generally quite fresh,” customer Katrina Larsen said.