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CROP Farmers Market and Farm Tours members seek to increase local tourism and economic development in Crook County

CENTRAL OREGONIAN FILE PHOTO
 - Connie Close, who owns Just 1 Acre in Prineville, is pictured at her booth during a CROP event last summer. She will host a pop-up farmers market at her farm on Sept. 21.

Looking for fresh, local produce?

How about sustainably raised meat and eggs from small farms or hand-made artisan products from Central Oregon?

Look no further than a farmers market at Stryker Park in downtown Prineville.

This season, Crooked River Open Pastures CROP Farmers Market and Farm Events will be held in the form of a weekly market and monthly farm tours.

"The CROP farmers market is alive and well, and we're going to have a permanent location and be doing our farm events five times this season," said CROP member Linda Stephenson.

CROP is a series of pop-up farmers market and farm tours taking place throughout the Crooked River Basin at Stryker Park and various farms.

The 2019 CROP season begins Saturday, May 18 at Wine Down Ranch, a cattle ranch on McKay Creek Road.

In previous years, CROP events were held at various farms on select Saturdays throughout the season.

"We changed the structure from a traveling market to having a consistent downtown location to be more accessible with one weekend a month having a featured farm host the event to continue our founding vision and values of educational-based farm tours that connect the community to their farmers," said CROP President Laura Johnson-Fujiyama.

CROP will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday at Stryker Park through Sept. 28, except for the third Saturday of each month, when a Crook County farm will host.

CROP serves Crook County and surrounding communities by providing a variety of local agricultural products and artisanal goods. Members aim to educate community members about local farms, local products and sustainable living. It is a project of the Crook County Small Farm Alliance in partnership with High Desert Food and Farm Alliance.

The events were created to bring more awareness of the abundance of local food grown in the Central Oregon region and to increase tourism and economic development.

Organizers say the CROP vendors seek to create an enjoyable atmosphere that serves not only the market but also promotes a sense of community within Crook County.

CROP members will pay Crook County Parks and Recreation District a small fee each week in order to rent Stryker Park for the market.

"We are seeking sponsors to offset our startup expenses, which include insurance, signage and advertising," Stephenson said.

Crop is currently accepting vendor applications for this season.

"We are a farmers market, so it is important for us to find the right balance of artisans and crafts to compliment the farmers, produce, meat and eggs," Johnson-Fujiyama said.

The weekly farmers market at Stryker Park will feature vendors with their produce and products, music and a food vendor. The nearby splash park will open at the beginning of summer.

"Families can come, watch their kids play in the water and peruse the farmers market," Stephenson said.

Five CROP farm events are scheduled and will feature a farmers market, farm tours and an education piece on the different farms.

"Agritourism is so popular right now," Stephenson said. "What we want to do is educate, and maybe they can come and purchase some crops."

At the first CROP event of the season, Wine Down Ranch will showcase their greenhouses and produce as well as the logging aspect of the ranch with old-fashioned horse logging demonstrations.

Auntie Bean's, a small vegetable farm with a farmstand and animals on the Madras Highway, will host a CROP farm event on June 15.

Bluestone Natural Farms in Powell Butte will host the farm event on July 20 and offer locally grown seasonal produce, herbs, plants, grass-fed beef, pork, goat meat and milk.

Stephenson, who owns L & S Farm and Garden on Gerke Road, will host Aug. 17. Known as the "Rhubarb Lady," she moved to Prineville from La Pine last June, where had a retail garden center for 29 years.

She raises Southdown Babydoll sheep, chickens and rhubarb. She has a commercial kitchen and sells jams, jellies, salsas and barbecue sauces made with her rhubarb. During her CROP event, she will offer tours and provide tips on greenhouse growing.

Just 1 Acre, a 1-acre farm on North Main Street, will host the final farm event on Sept. 21. They have a small herd of Nubian milk goats and make soaps, lotions and body butter from the milk, and they grow seasonal produce.

"We are all looking forward to this new, exciting season and connecting with our longtime customers as well as meeting new ones," Stephenson said.

CROP Farmers Market and Farm Events

The event will be held at Stryker Park on the corner of Fourth and Elm streets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday May 25 to Sept. 28 except the third Saturday of each month when a different farm will host.

Call Laura, 541-233-3100, for information.

For vendor information, visit www.cropfarmersmarket.com.

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