Hoodland open-air fair to reopen May 23
Spring has sprung and soon a new season will be upon us: farmers market season. Four years ago, Mount Hood resident Lauren Carusona started the Hoodland Farmers Market because of a lack of local sources of fresh food on the mountain.
With the pandemic that need has only grown, and Carusona looks forward to hosting the market again starting Sunday, May 23.
"Our main goal is to make food more accessible to the locals on Mount Hood because the mountain is a food desert," Carusona explained. "There are not many options to buy healthy, locally grown food."
The first market of the season will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, May 23, in the parking lot at the Whistle Stop, 66674 E. Highway 26, Welches.
To connect residents with fresh produce from nearby farmers, the Hoodland Farmers Market puts an emphasis on accepting produce vendors above all else.
However, other vendors also participate, offering soaps, herbalist products, preserves, eggs, fresh flowers, condiments and more. This year Carusona plans to have around 10 vendors total.
"We're trying to support the local Mount Hood economy," she added.
In the past the market has facilitated cooking lessons and demos and encouraged vendors to offer recipes of how to use certain food items. Because of COVID-19 last year, the market mostly operated with pre-orders and pick-up, but Carusona is hopeful they'll be able to add more back to the in-person market this year.
"We want to educate people to have a deeper connection to their food," Carusona said. "We want to educate the community about how to cook with real food. It's really cool to see connections (between vendors and customers, too)."
While vendors are welcome to operate with pre-orders and pickups still, it is no longer required. Vendors may offer in-person browsing with distancing and masking for safety.
Carusona has most recently been working to establish the market as a 5019(c)(3) nonprofit organization and taking donations to further that goal via a GoFundMe campaign online. As of April 19, the campaign had raised about $1,340 toward a $2,500 goal.
Those who donate more than $25 will be entered to win one of many weekly raffle drawings. Those who hope to win must make their names visible when completing their GoFundMe transaction.
Drawings started April 11 and will take place every week until opening day on Sunday, May 23. Prizes will include items from local vendors and businesses.
"I'm most looking forward to getting back into it and being back with the vendors," Carusona said. "(I enjoy) watching the community come together around supporting local vendors. It feels like (the market) is really more a part of the community now."
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