Peg Tennant takes some measurements at the site of the Oak Harbor Farmers Market last Friday, May 12. The market, in its 24th year, starts Thursday, May 18. Photo by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor Farmers Market begins 24th season Thursday

Ominous skies in the distance didn’t stop Peg Tennant from visiting the site of the Oak Harbor Farmers Market Friday.

She needed to take some measurements on the field in preparation of this year’s market, which kicks off Thursday.

A break in the rain gave her that chance and offered a promising splash of sunshine and near-60 degree temperatures. But as soon she started to take measurements, chilly gusts of wind began to pick up.

“Here we go,” Tennant said.

The cold, wet spring has put a damper on the start of the growing season on Whidbey Island.

Tennant, who manages both the Oak Harbor and Coupeville farmers markets, said the minimum soil temperature for good seed germination is 50 degrees, and the frequent wind and rain are preventing that mark from being sustained at night.

“The ground temperatures have got to get up there for things to grow well,” Tennant said. “This is April weather and it’s May.”

Oak Harbor Farmers Market, in its 24th year, is open 4-7 p.m. every Thursday through the end of September.

The market is located on the field next to the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, along State Highway 20.

Whidbey Island growers expecting to be on hand for the opener are Case Farm of Oak Harbor, Bell’s Farm and Kettle’s Edge Farm from Coupeville, Tennant said. Round Tuit Farm, a honey producer from Oak Harbor, also is expected.

Food vendors, crafters and nonprofit groups also will part of the market.

The sort of produce visitors can anticipate include spring greens, lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, rhubarb, broccoli, radishes, scallions, onions, kale and more.

Bell’s Farm is predicting strawberries will ripen around Father’s Day this year, which is closer to the norm, Tennant said.

The strawberry plants recently started to bloom, a later start than in recent years.

“It might be a little bit easier to get pickers for them,” Tennant said.

“Last year, it was really hampered by young people being in school and not hireable per labor laws,” she said.

Strawberries from Skagit County farms may arrive at the market as early as the end of May, Tennant said.

Coupeville Farmers Market started April 1 and is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays.