New business — Chehalem Flats Farm Market fulfilling long-held goal to enhance local economy

When Jan Ellings and Phil Cleys bought their land more than 20 years ago, the plan was always to utilize the space and produce their own food. But their careers took them all over the country, putting off the dream for a GARY ALLEN - Displaying her wares - Jan Ellings and Phil Cleys own the Chehalem Flats Farm Market near the intersection of North Valley and Dopp roads.

“It’s taken us a long time to get home,” Ellings said. Last July, they made the first step and opened the Chehalem Flats Farm Market. “It took us a couple of years to get the building, but then we put in the lavender field, a fig (orchard) in the back. We’re trying to have unique things, a variety of things that would bring customers in, but we’re also wanting to promote all of Yamhill County and other local farmers. It’s kind of one of our missions.”

As new farmers, she said they are starting off slow and will build on their own products with time.

“We’re just getting our own products up and running, we’re not there yet,” she said. “That was the dilemma for us, do we plant all these things, mature them along, wait another couple years then open the market with more of our own things, or do we just get started? We said, ‘You know what, we’ll just get started, get a feel for the community and what do shoppers want.’”

For now, the market is open Saturdays and Sundays, as Ellings works as a nurse.

“In July we’ll add Thursday and Friday and keep that up until we figure it out,” she said. “We’re going to play it by ear.”

But even with taking the process slowly, Ellings has some grand plans for the future of the market.

“We’re hoping this summer, we’ve got some picnic tables, that people feel they can come in between wineries and have a picnic or before they head to the beach,” she said.

This is part of her mission to help the economic development of the county, stemming from a 2009 report produced by the Board of Commissioners showing that while Yamhill County thrived in agriculture, it lacked in hotels and other activities for tourism.

“Having more for people to come to our county and do helps people to stay here and helps our economy,” she said.

Ellings, along with five other farm markets, are putting together a map for tourists similar to wine tour maps already spread throughout the county.

Aside from that, she’s also looking to come up with even more events for people to take advantage of what the county has to offer.

“Maybe we’ll do a progressive farm dinner, where we’ll have this and then send you somewhere else,” Ellings said. Or maybe host a farmer’s market once a month for other local farmers to participate in. For her, the possibilities are endless.

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