Opinion

Editorial: Support your local farmers market

Whidbey Island is heading into the heart of Farmers Market season, and no islander should let it pass without frequenting one of our markets as many times as possible.

The island is blessed with five farmers markets, located in Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Greenbank, and two in the Bayview area. All of them provide a fine family gathering place. Meet old friends, make new friends, eat home-made goodies, peruse the artisan offerings, and, most importantly, purchase the produce from the farmers who work hard to supply our community with fresh vegetables and fruits every spring and summer.

With its high-priced land, Whidbey Island will never be a major farm products exporter, but our small farmers markets are helping us do more each year to feed ourselves. Our crops are lovingly cared for, most are grown organically, and their picked-this-morning freshness means they’re packed with vitamins, nutrients and good taste. There’s no comparison between home-grown produce available at the farmers markets and the agribusiness products sold in supermarkets.

Everyone agrees that we want Whidbey Island to retain its rural character, and one of the best ways to do that is to become a farmers market customer. Landowners can benefit from lower taxes if they can grow agricultural products, and the farmers markets provide a sales outlet for those products. Few islanders make a living in agriculture, but that’s not important. All we need is a plethora of small farms and gardens owned by people who love the land and would never let it be subdivided for development. Farmers markets have a positive impact throughout the island.

Another way to maintain our quality of life is to become a produce provider yourself. It doesn’t take a lot of land to start a garden, and a well-tended one can produce far more than a single family can consume. Resources are available at the Greenbank Farm or through the Master Gardeners program offered through Island County WSU Extension. Instead of just enjoying the rural lifestyle, become a contributing member of that lifestyle.

The Oak Harbor Public Market opens Thursday, May 21, at 4 p.m. next to the chamber office on Highway 20. The Coupeville Farmers Market is open each Saturday, as are the Bayview and Tilth farmers markets on South Whidbey. The Greenbank Farm market operates every Sunday. Support them all, because they’re essential to our quality of life.

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