Farmers Market has it all

Vendors increase in Oak Harbor market’s ninth season

Ever wanted to know where to buy a bunch of kale? How about a leek? Perhaps a moose carved from wood that poops candy?

The Oak Harbor Farmers Market has all of that, and more. What it does not have, however, is enough farmers to meet the demand from the masses for locally grown food.

The market opened this month with 15 more vendors than it had last year, Market Manager Peg Tennant said. Of the total sales that occur at the market, at least half must come from farmers and agricultural products.

“We are getting a greater diversity,” Tennant said. “We’re getting people coming from all over. We’ve got people willing to spend their gas money to get here.”

The Oak Harbor market runs on Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m. in the parking lot between Oak Harbor Middle School and the Chamber of Commerce. On a recent Thursday, hundreds of shoppers scurried about under the canopy of trees, looking for fresh produce, some goat’s milk soap or a fragrant bunch of flowers.

Oak Harbor resident Andrew Marvel stole a moment on a tree stump to enjoy market newcomer Piggy D’s barbecue. This was also Marvel’s first time at the market.

“I was kind of surprised,” he said. “I kind of figured it was more of a farmer’s market, but there’s all kinds of crafts and stuff.”

Tennant said she expects to have about 80 different merchants selling their wares by the end of the season. Many local crops, such as blueberries and raspberries, have not come into season yet.

Tennant said she attributes the market’s success to a variety of factors.

“It’s just a great thing to do on a Thursday,” she said. “We intentionally made it on a Thursday. Farmers love to be able to pick on a Tuesdays and Wednesdays too.”

The market’s time eliminates competition, as most other markets are on Saturdays.

Tennant said that the market has grown each of its nine years of operation. She said that word of mouth advertising has helped fuel that growth.

In addition to the strong growth, the market will again be participating in a program that allows people on fixed incomes to shop at the markets. The Women, Infants and Children program will provide the market with checks that people can spend with the sellers.

“People just keep telling people about it,” she said. “That’s all it takes.”

And people were chattering about Thursday, stopping for some lumpia before arranging a custom bouquet of flowers on their way to pick up a truffle or pastry for dessert.

You can reach News-Times reporter Eric Berto at