Farmers’ Market holds third annual dinner

The Sweet Home Farmers’ Market shared the riches of the Sweet Home community when it comes to local food on Oct. 22 when it hosted an Italian dinner composed almost entirely of local ingredients.

More than 120 people attended the feast.

The Board of Directors of the Sweet Home Farmers’ Market organizes the popular event and does everything from source ingredients to wash the dishes.

Market Manager Jan Nielson made the lasagna, and the rest of the food was prepared by Nielson and Julie Fitzgerald, owner/baker of Bread of Angels and former restaurant owner.

The Sweet Potato Queens served the food while Etoufee, a Cajun band, played live music, and there were door prizes.

The Vet’s Club provided the venue, and local businesses pitched in, along with farmers, gardeners, ranchers, and orchardists.

In a small town, even with great farmers surrounding it, chances are they’re at bigger, more profitable markets than the one in their home town, Nielson said. The small-town dilemma is how to attract a lot of people to a market without lots to offer and how to get farmers to come and offer it if people think there won’t be much there, an old chicken-or-egg thing.

Such is the dilemma of a small town. And Sweet Home is a fairly small town of about 9,000 residents.

The market has great farmers and ranchers surrounding, who can supply produce city folk would envy, Nielson said. So, most of the local providers do business at those city markets.

There are loyalist vendors who stay in Sweet Home or at least have a booth there as well as in the cities, Nielson said. Nielson is a rancher and producer of Fraga Farm goat cheese.

“In doing this market,” she said, “I have discovered what talented people we have right here in our own backyard. We have everything we need here, we just have to get together to see it. The farmers’ market is doing that.

“The market is very small but very friendly,” Nielson said. “A lot of people have developed friendships just from meeting each other at the market and the dinner.”

The market has 501(c)3 non-profit status, and can serve all who use Oregon Trail, WIC and the Senior Program for healthful foods. There is a community booth at the market where gardeners can bring their extra produce to sell on consignment.

Funds from the City of Sweet Home and the Oregon Country Fair helped the market build an educational booth where demonstrations on cooking, fly fishing, natural plant dying for fibers, raising organic livestock, homeopathy, gardening or food preservation have taken place.

Thriftway Market hosts the market in its parking lot and provides electricity available for the demonstrations and live music.

Neilson and the market committee are impressed with all of the community support, she said.

“I want Sweet Home to have good food.”

— Information courtesy

of the Ten Rivers Food Web