After several months of cold and rain, warm weather and sunshine greeted attendees Saturday for the kickoff of the 27th season of the Corvallis Farmers’ Market.
The market, which is held downtown on a portion of First Street and Monroe Avenue, featured more than 50 vendors selling early-market goods such as spring raab, spinach, potatoes, carrots, rhubarb, preserved foods, honey, eggs, meat, and cheese alongside dozens of nursery plants and cut flowers.
“Today’s parting of the clouds felt nothing short of miraculous for many of the farmers,” said Rebecca Landis, director for the market, noting that several traditional items will likely make their debuts later in the season because the six-county area was dumped on with rainfall nearly 24 inches above past years. “The weather that came before this was giving everyone fits. And I think that rain could haunt us through the first half of our season.”
Lending stability to Saturday's offerings, Landis said, were the long-term growth in meat, poultry and non-produce products.
“They are less seasonal, although animal farmers have still struggled with this winter and spring rain and its affect on pastures,” Landis said. “I think the number of vendors will rise more slowly this year, but we should eventually reach the same levels.”
For Camille Storch, co-owner of Old Blue Raw Honey, Saturday was the perfect day for the company’s debut at the market.
“It’s great for honey, because people are excited to be here and they have money in their pocket and it’s a great day,” Storch said. “I think for all of the non-vegetable vendors it should be a good day.”
While Saturday marked the first appearance for Old Blue Raw Honey, Storch is no stranger to the Saturday farmers’ market. She previously worked for several years at Philomath’s Gathering Together Farms and before that she helped her mother, Nancy Muir, at Oven & Earth bakery.
“I think a lot of people know me and don’t know I’ve been doing this honey thing for the last two years so it’s been great to debut this in my own community,” Storch said. “I live here and I like it. The people are great. The food’s great and it’s a really nice place to be on a Saturday morning.”
Not only was Saturday far from Storch’s first time at the farmers’ market, it wasn’t even her first time running a vendor booth by herself. On one Saturday 24 years ago, Storch was helping her mother when Muir suddenly realized that she had take her son to band camp and left Storch to run the vendor booth. Storch was 10 years old.
“She left me,” Storch said with a laugh. “So I did the market pretty much all day by myself. So yeah it’s definitely not a new thing for me.”
Muir, who still operates Oven & Earth at the Saturday market, made her debut 34 years ago at the Albany market. Fittingly, she took Storch, who was 6 months old at the time, along with her.
“She grew up doing this,” Muir said. “She used to help give out change. And before I knew it she was doing everything.”
Storch said she loved working with her mother at the market.
“She’d pack all of her bread and vegetables and then she’d pack a few toys for me. She’d set everything up and I’d hang out. Then I helping her do things here and there,” Storch said. “I went from being a burden, to being somewhat helpful, to being pretty helpful. And then I kind of jumped ship and worked for Gathering Together for a long time. And now I’m selling honey. I’ve grown up here.”
Storch, who co-owns Old Blue Raw Honey with her husband, Henry, in Philomath, noted that the booth won’t run all season. She’s scheduled to sell honey for about six to eight weeks before another honey vendor returns to the market.
“Our good beekeeper friend usually sells at this market and we’ve tried not to impose on his territory. But he’s sold out of last year’s honey and we still have quite a bit of last year’s honey so we’re coordinating with him to be here until he has honey again,” Storch said.
The Corvallis Saturday farmers' market runs for 32 weeks.
In prior years, the opening of the market coincided with Earth Day and the Procession of the Species parade. This year, both Albany and Corvallis parades will fall on Earth Day, which is April 22.