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Farmers markets blooming on Whidbey
It looks like it will be a bountiful year for the many farmers markets that span Whidbey Island and offer folks a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, art, crafts, cooked meals and much more.
“It’s been a record-breaking start,” Coupeville Farmers Market manager Peg Tennant said. “I think the community is ready to buy local.”
The Coupeville market started last month in its usual spot located in the grass field behind the Coupeville Public Library. Tennant said there were 32 vendors to kick off the market. Saturday, 41 booths were selling everything from cedar baskets to pea vines. Tennant said a lot of growers are showing an interest in selling at the Coupeville market.
“We’ve got more farmers coming as crops come in,” Tennant said, adding that there are two off-island farmers, one as far away as Toppenish, selling items that typically don’t grow well on Whidbey Island.
She pointed out, however, that the island’s famous berries will be a little late.
There are a number of new farmers this year. Damon Gibson moved to his five-acre farm near Ledgewood in January and sells green, leafy vegetables out of his booth.
“There’s a big demand for local produce on the island and there’s not enough farmers to facilitate it,” Gibson said as he was stocking the table top. He pulled out a huge head of lettuce that he grew on his farm.
There are, of course, some familiar names at the market including Case Farm, Willowood Farm and Prairie Bottom Farm; they grow produce ranging from long pie pumpkins to spinach.
One farm, Forget Me Not Farms, started in 1997 as a homeschooling project and has been growing produce ever since. Owner Lois Wenzek was selling tomato plants and pepper plants Saturday.
“We’re hoping to be here all season,” Wenzek said.
The strong start to Coupeville’s Farmers Market continues its healthy performance vendors enjoyed last year. That’s when revenues at the market increased by approximately 30 percent.
Four of the five farmer’s markets based in Whidbey Island are currently operating as of this weekend.
The fifth is the Oak Harbor Public Market. It takes place on Thursdays next to the chamber of commerce on Highway 20 and is scheduled to start May 21.