Camas Farmer’s Market events to highlight local farmers, sustainability

'Common Ground' documentary will play at Liberty Theatre April 20 and April 24; 'Farmers Forum' set for April 20 at Lane Cellars

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Clockwise from left: Washougal farmer John Spencer raises a flower at the 2023 Camas Farmer's Market; Shady Grove Farm owner Steve Inzalaco works in the field with his son; and farm equipment is seen at the Get To-Gather Farm in Washougal. (Photos courtesy of John Spencer and Camas Farmer's Market)

Washougal farmer John Spencer still remembers the feeling he had right before making a decision that would drastically change his life for the better. 

It was 2019, and Spencer — a longtime Port of Camas-Washougal commissioner — was working full-time as a consultant for local government entities and fire departments around the United States. 

One day, while having lunch with a friend, Spencer said he was having trouble focusing on his work. 

“He said, ‘Obviously, you don’t love what you do,’” Spencer said of his lunch companion.

The more Spencer thought about it, the more he realized that, although he liked his job, he was not passionate about it. 

“I started to realize that, whenever I was avoiding work, I was out on the farm, planting trees.”
Spencer’s family had purchased 135 acres near Washougal — a mixture of forest and farm lands — in 2004, and he owned about 70 acres with his mother and sister. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Spencer had already been experimenting with growing things like tomatoes, lettuce, squashes and flowers on the land and “toying” with the idea that he might be able to spend more time cultivating the land. 

The pandemic provided the push Spencer needed. 

“All of my contracts were with fire departments and they all canceled in a one- to two-week period. It was pretty fast,” Spencer said. “So I shrugged my shoulders and said, ‘OK, I’m a farmer now.’’

Since then, Spencer has learned farming through trial and error — losing trees and produce to the area’s deer before building solid, 7-foot fences; realizing the land was too shady for brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli; figuring out just how destructive squash bugs can be to a pumpkin crop; and losing his greenhouse to the blustery Gorge winds. 

“It was a big learning curve,” Spencer said. “I had no background in farming whatsoever.”

What he lacked in knowledge, Spencer made up for in a passion for farming and a love of community. 

“I started carrying crops from other local farms to try to offer more variety and to get people up here, shopping, and that has turned out to be a major boon,” Spencer said. “Our mission is to produce good food and create a place for people to gather.”
In fact, Spencer’s farm is called the Get To-Gather Farm, and it is becoming known for its annual events, including pumpkin patch festivities in the fall and an Easter egg hunt that attracted more than 350 participants this year. 

“People need stuff to do,” Spencer said. “They need to get outside.” 

Spencer offers plenty of opportunities for people to visit his farm, pick their own fresh herbs, visit with the farm’s flock of chickens, buy fresh-laid eggs, and buy unique vegetables and fruit they won’t find at their local supermarket. 

The farm is organic in practice, Spencer said, and lucky to have the excellent soil the Willamette Valley is known for. 

“Except for citrus and other (crops) that need really warm weather, we can grow anything here,” Spencer said. 

As his farm continues to grow, Spencer is hoping to share the beauty and serenity he’s found with others in the Camas-Washougal community.

“I hope to inspire people,” he said. “That people will come out here and fall in love with the place.” 

One of the ways Spencer and other farmers promote their farm — and meet new customers on a weekly basis during the warmer-weather months — is through farmer’s markets, including the Camas Farmer’s Market, held in downtown Camas from 3 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday, from the first Wednesday in June through the first Wednesday in October. 

Later this month, the Camas Farmer’s Market will host two fundraiser events, including a Farmers Forum from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at Lane Cellars, 340 N.E. Fourth Ave., in downtown Camas, featuring Spencer as well as Camas farmers Lindsay and Steve Inzalaco from Shady Grove Farm

“The forum … will offer attendees the opportunity to learn more about the successes and challenges faced by small farms in 2024,” Camas Farmer’s Market organizers noted in a news release previewing the event. “This intimate (forum) will offer the community a chance to learn more about how to best support local farmers.”

Tickets to the Farmers Forum cost $10, and proceeds will directly benefit the Camas Farmer’s Market. The Lane Cellars menu will be available for purchase during the event. For more information about the Farmers Forum, visit

The second fundraiser, a double screening of “Common Ground,” a documentary that, according to the Camas Farmer’s Market news release, “explores regenerative agricultural practices, aimed at improving the health and sustainability of the soil, water and ecosystems to create a more resilient food system,” will take place at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 20, and at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, at the Liberty Theatre in downtown Camas. Tickets for the screenings cost $10, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the local farmer’s market. To purchase tickets, visit

“We are thrilled to partner with the Liberty Theatre and Lane Cellars to host the ‘Common Ground’ screenings and the Farmers Forum,” said Leah Nichelson, manager of the Camas Farmer’s Market. “Not only will attendees have the opportunity to learn more about regenerative agriculture and get a peek into what life is like as a modern farmer, but they will also be supporting a worthy cause that benefits our entire community. Supporting local farms and regional food systems is an important part of a sustainable future.”

For more information about the Camas Farmer’s Market, visit