Photo by Christina Whiting
Peter Smith-Case of Case Farm sells some veggies to some interested buyers at the opening Saturday of the Coupeville Farmers Market this past weekend.

Island’s farmers market season gets underway

The Coupeville Farmers Market opened last weekend and more markets are coming up.

Spring has sprung, and with it the first of Whidbey’s farmer markets has begun.

The Coupeville Farmers Market, traditionally the first of the markets, opened this past Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the town’s community green.

“I can’t say it was completely normal,” said Sheila Case-Smith of Case Farm, one of the vendors.

“Usually, first days are full of a lot of hugs,” she said. “But this year was still pretty nice.”

Case Farm was one of four vendors present on the windy, sunny day.

Maureen Rice, the market’s manager, said Coupeville normally starts out “sooner and smaller.”

Last year, certain COVID restrictions early in the pandemic prevented vendors with crafts from being able to sell their wares at the farmers markets. Items such as food were prioritized and considered “essential.”

That is no longer the case. A broom maker, for example, was one of the vendors at Saturday’s market.

The market also has new contact information. Vendors who are interested in taking part can call 360-320-2179 or email coupe villefarmersmarketwa@gmail.com.

Next up, the Bayview Farmers Market and the South Whidbey Tilth Farmers Market will be opening the same weekend. Bayview’s market opens from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 24.

According to Sharon Warwick, the market’s manager, there are 63 vendors lined up for this season, including a new hot foods vendor selling Chinese kung-fu microribs.

The market space is full and applications are no longer being accepted for new vendors.

Live music will not be offered until maybe later this year. Seating is not currently available and dogs are not allowed except for service dogs.

Under a new state grant, the market is now allowed to match up to $40 from shoppers using SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Anyone using an EBT card can also pick up a book. The market received cookbooks and children’s books from the Department of Health.

Just up the highway, the market run by South Whidbey Tilth opens 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 25.

Gary Ingram, the organization’s president, said Tilth’s market was one of the first to require a mask mandate last year.

The small market has many vendors who have grown their products right on the organization’s 18 acres or made hot food in its commercial kitchen to sell.

“We’re funky,” Ingram said.

He likes to think of the property as a “collective farm” where individuals and couples have grown their own food to sell.

Despite the pandemic, some of the vendors had their best year ever last year. Sales were up, Ingram surmised, because people liked shopping outdoors.

Music was a big draw, pre-COVID.

“It’s a nice scene,” he said. “Before the pandemic, people would come for the whole three hours.”

Live music may be making a return to the Tilth market.

The Langley Friday Street Market is set to open May 14. The market will take place at the east end of Second Street from 11:30 a.m to 4:00 p.m.

“We are looking forward to providing economic opportunity, bringing together community as well as off-island tourism, and creating energy within downtown Langley,” Market Manager Emily Switzer said in an email.

Returnees Whidbey Wax Works, Wild Crow Pie Co. and others will be present, as well as local brick and mortar businesses such as Feather and Fox and Cook on Clay.

The market is currently open for applications. To apply, email Switzer at hellolangley@whidbey.com or go to visitlangley.com.

In Oak Harbor, one farmers market may have closed but another is gearing up to open in its place.

The new Whidbey Island Farmers Market will run 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays starting in June in Windjammer Park.

Elizabeth Agin, who is president of the new market, said the market’s board of directors is attempting to rejuvenate and offer a “produce centric” experience.

Some vendors who are currently signed up were also at the old Oak Harbor Farmers Market that closed, although there is no affiliation between it and the new Whidbey Island Farmers Market.

Agin said there are about 13 full-time vendors signed up. Musicians and food vendors are also welcome.

Vendor inquiries can be directed to whidbeyfarmersmarket@gmail.com.

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