Bringing fresh back

Camas Farmer's Market opens for its eighth season

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"I'm a farm girl. This feels like home."

-- Tina Eifert, Camas Farmer's Market program coordinator

“I’m a farm girl. This feels like home.”

— Tina Eifert, Camas Farmer’s Market program coordinator

The sounds of music, excited children and friendly greetings echoed through the streets of downtown Camas on a recent sunny Wednesday afternoon.

Add to that a combination of tantalizing aromas, chef demonstrations and kids’ activities, and you have a recipe for summer fun with the Camas Farmer’s Market.

The market, now in its eighth season, is open every Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m., and located between the library and City Hall at Fourth Avenue, between Everett and Franklin Streets.

Tina Eifert is the new program coordinator. She succeeded Marilyn Goodman, who passed away from cancer in August.

“It has already hit me several times and I will get a bit emotional, thinking about her and wishing she was still here with us,” Eifert said. “I accepted the position as Program Coordinator simply because I love real food and the people that grow it, produce it and create it. It’s an easy fit for me to feel passionate about bringing vendors and shoppers together for a mutually beneficial exchange.”

However, she is determined to maintain Goodman’s passion and vision for the market.

“We’re especially proud of our children’s educational component,” she said. “I’m honored to continue using the excellent and comprehensive youth education curriculum that Marilyn created for our market.”

Several old favorites are part of the market this year, such as Klickitat Canyon Winery, Aichele Farms, Columbia River Sourdough Bakery, Lacamas Lavender Farm and Getta Gyro. New food vendors include Hello Waffles, 9 Bar Espresso, Conan’s Hot Sauces and Marinades, Bootie’s BBQ, Herb N’ Roots and Simply Thyme Catering, featuring ready-to-eat dinners made with local ingredients.

“It’s perfect if you want to grab something to take home and enjoy a healthy dinner, without the hassle of cooking,” Eifert said.

She noted Herb N’ Roots serves local, organic, sustainable menus, including vegan and gluten free specialties.

They were recently featured as the market Chef Demo, serving samples of brioche toasts with ricotta and strawberry rhubarb apple jam.

“We specialize in healthy options and dietary needs, including vegan, kosher and gluten-free,” noted co-owner Alex Collins. “We have very much enjoyed being a part of the Vancouver Farmers Market community, and wanted to expand out in Camas. So far, it has been a lot of fun.”

Tamara Leibfarth is the executive chef and owner of Simply Thyme Catering, based out of Vancouver. She has been in business for 10 years.

“Last summer, I experimented with having a booth at the Salmon Creek Farmer’s Market, and decided to come out here,” she said. “They were looking for vendors that offered healthy options. This is our third week here and a lot of people have come by.”

Simply Thyme offers samples at its booth, made with fresh produce purchased at the market.

“I have really enjoyed getting out of my kitchen and meeting new people,” Leibfarth said.

Also new to the market this year is the Produce Pals program. Each week, children ages 3 to 13 who visit the Kid’s Connection booth and participate in that week’s project, receive a $2 token to purchase their own fresh fruits and vegetables from vendors.

“The activities teach nutrition, gardening, healthy lifestyle and caring for our planet,” Eifert said.

New farms this year include Matt’s Plants and Produce and Tumbling Sky Farm.

“We’re excited to see many of our loyal returning vendors, as well as lots of new vendors with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, hot prepared food, beautiful flower bouquets, sweet and savory baked goods and other locally grown/produced foods,” Eifert said.

In addition to all of the food, produce and local products available, market attendees can also listen to local musicians, watch a cooking demonstration, hear a master gardener or attend a nutrition education presentation at the Healthy Living Demos. The kid’s connection booth has an activity of the week from 3 to 7 p.m.

“I believe in farmers,” Eifert said. “I believe in small business and I believe in the power of neighbors helping neighbors. I’m a farm girl. This feels like home.”