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New partnership formed between Chehalem Park and Recreation District and the Newberg Downtown Coalition

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Mount Angel resident Tom Maurer of Tom's Pies serves up a slab of delicious goodness to Keith Wright, of Newberg, last week during the Newberg Farmer's Market.

The Chehalem Park and Recreation District teamed up with the Newberg Downtown Coalition to help run the farmers' market in the heart of downtown.

Mike Ragsdale, executive director of the NDC and a CPRD board member, facilitated the relationship that both entities hope leads to an improved market experience for locals.

The market, located on First Street across from city hall, is still very much a growing endeavor. Erin Harrington, the CPRD employee tasked with managing the market, said a total of 15 vendors sell their wares at the market on a given week.

Vendors are selling a variety of things from flowers to jewelry, fresh local honey, homemade pies, greeting cards, baked goods, quality meats and – of course – produce from local farmers. Harrington said the market has space for 20 additional vendors if local businesses are interested, and they have a particular need for food options at this point.

"We are looking for more food vendors, like food trucks, but we have just one now," Harrington said. "The market is from 1 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays this year, so that's a good window for local trucks to make some late lunch and dinner sales."

As the relationship between CPRD and the NDC evolves, the vibrant scene at the market will as well, Harrington said. She noted that vendors will only come if they believe a return on investment is possible, and that only happens if people start showing up in greater numbers this summer.

"We definitely need the support of the community," Harrington said. "If we don't have the community coming in and supporting the market, then it's hard to keep vendors. These vendors work hard and they want to sell their products."

Many of the vendors rely on the market as a means for earning a portion of their livelihood, so Harrington emphasized the importance of supporting local businesses when encouraging folks to come and check out the market.

As far as CPRD is concerned, more work is anticipated in the coming weeks and years to improve the experience and draw in more customers. With the tourism that so often sweeps Newberg during the summers, there are multiple avenues through which an experience like the farmers' market can grow.

Right now, it's in a humble stage after its inception in 2011. Part of that might be due to external factors, but positive change can come – Harrington said – if the market is managed well in the future and becomes a kind of meeting place for the community.

"I see the downtown coalition's partnership with CPRD growing and having more to do with the whole thing," she said. "The sky is the limit if we start small and keep growing. As the partnership continues to grow, I think CPRD will have more responsibilities and help it gain popularity."

The Newberg Farmers' Market will continue through Oct. 9. For more information, visit www.newbergdowntown.org/events/newberg-farmers-market.

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