Farm to market to table

At age 10, Camas Farmer’s Market hits its stride

A basket filled with carrots is not an unusual sight at the Camas Farmer’s Market, which runs from June 7 to Oct. 4 this year, from 3 to 7 p.m. each Wednesday in downtown Camas. The market attracts farmers from Southwest Washington, Northwest Oregon and a few from eastern Washington who provide seasonal delicacies that need the warm temperatures and longer growing season that the eastern part of the state can provide. Contributed photo by Tina Eifert

A child enjoys a fresh, regionally grown strawberry at the Camas Farmer’s Market. Opening day of the market’s 2017 season is Wednesday, June 7, and will feature a health fair with local practitioners. Contributed photo by Tina Eifert

Like most 10-year-olds, the Camas Farmer’s Market is still growing, still changing.

But if you’re talking about hitting one’s stride, the local farmer’s market is more like a confident 30-year-old: Old enough to know what works and just starting to be recognized for its accomplishments.

At a recent Camas City Council work session, farmer’s market staffers and members of the market’s active board of directors sat down with city leaders to review the market’s most recent accomplishments.

Toward the top of the list? The fact that the local market, held every Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. in the heart of downtown Camas, beat out every other Washington State farmer’s market in a recent list of the nation’s most cherished farmer’s market, coming in at No. 39 in the country — No. 1 in Washington — as a “pillar of the community” market in the American Farmland Trust’s farmer’s market contest.

The recognition comes as no surprise to Tina Eifert, program coordinator for the Camas Farmer’s Market. She says the community has long embraced the market as their own and credits much of the market’s continued growth and success to that sense of community pride. What’s more, says Eifert, the board of directors remain active, constantly seeking new sponsors for the market, drumming up support and trying to help the downtown Camas market attract underserved populations like seniors, lower-income families and Camas-area youth.

The board’s efforts are working, Eifert adds — just look at the market’s numbers in 2016. Last year, the market averaged 1,425 customers each week; distributed more than $700 in SNAP Match tokens to vulnerable community members as well as $7,380 worth of food to families enrolled in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program; and had a 19-percent increase in vendor sale over 2015.

This year, the market kicks off on Wednesday, June 7, in its spot between the Camas Library and Camas City Hall on Fourth Avenue, and runs every week through Oct. 4.

Each week brings a special event, including a health fair with local health practitioners on opening day.

For more information, visit camasfarmersmarket.org