Local producers invited to new market
Jefferson County has a rich farming and ranching community with bountiful products to offer, but those goods often get overlooked. Farm stores are off the beaten path, and Madras does not have a reputation for those types of products.
But, at last week's Madras City Council meeting, Madras City Recorder Lysa Vattimo proposed an idea to help solve that problem – the Madras Farm-to-Table Market.
"The way I presented it to council is: Please allow me to plant the seed, nurture it, and see what grows," Vattimo said. "The first year is the nurturing year."
Vattimo and City of Madras Human Resources and Administrative Director Charo Miller proposed the initiative March 23, which the council approved.
"Staff has developed an idea for a Madras Farm-to-Table Market that would provide residents and visitors with convenient access to high-quality, farm-fresh products grown in Jefferson County," Vattimo said. "Our focus is to assist Jefferson County farmers and ranchers in getting their products out from their farms and into the city for sale in a convenient, highly visible location where they can be profitable. We believe these two things together are a win-win for our community."
The outdoor market debuts Friday, May 28 at Madras City Hall Plaza. The Madras Farm-to-Table Market will pop up from 2 to 6 p.m. each Friday through Sept. 3, spanning Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The plaza, located at the corner of Southwest Fourth and Southwest E streets adjacent to Madras City Hall, provides high visibility to the large volume of people driving through town and easy accessibility for the locals.
The city will not charge vendors who would like to participate in the market, however, Vattimo, the market liaison, must approve applications. All items sold at the market must have been grown in or have substantial amount of ingredients grown in Jefferson County. Producers are welcome to sell their produce, meat, eggs, dairy, honey, consumable grains and seeds, baked goods, and wines and spirits.
This type of market is a perfect fit for Cheri Bowen, who runs Green Drive Mercantile in Culver with her husband and three small sons.
"We're just small. We do a variety of things, but we're kind of tucked away, so not too many people know about us," Bowen said. They will sell their products at the Madras Farm-to-Table Market this summer.
They sell berries, produce, beef, pork, eggs, butter, milk, honey, goat soaps and other local items from a mercantile store on their farm. They are also opening The Produce Barn soon near their Culver farm and at Crescent Moon Ranch in Terrebonne.
"Lysa has put a lot of time and effort into this, and I want her and the team to know that we really appreciate what they are doing to allow us to have this opportunity," Bowen said.
The city has partnered with Madras FFA and the Jefferson County School District to offer an internship program, which will allow students to learn the marketing side of farming.
Vattimo also wants to teach vendors how to display their products and market their businesses. The city earmarked $3,500 for the market project, and Vattimo is eager to secure vendors for the 2021 season.
She is pleased that her dream is becoming a reality.
"I'm hopeful that we build a strong foundation that's a sustainable program so that we won't be providing as much support in the years to come and it'll just grow and take off," Vattimo said.
Madras Farm-to-Table Market
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