By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“We have some really great vendors this year,” said Will O'Donnell, who is in his fifth year as market manager for the Jefferson County Farmers Market.
“All the local farmers have started an early cycle, and we will have lots of fresh, local eggs and produce,” O'Donnell said.
A parade of about five goats will open the market on Tyler Street between Lawrence and Clay streets at 9 a.m., he said.
It's the third year for the market's running of the goats, which are provided by Harmony's Way Farm in Chimacum. Owner Felicia Allen, who is a nationally known milk goat breeder, sells goat milk soap at the market.
Otto & Kristin Smith and Friends will perform music on violin and concertina, O'Donnell said.
Among the more than 50 vendors will be some who are new to the market this season.
Beaver Valley's Moonlight Farm will sell humanely raised pork and eggs, O'Donnell said.
Port Townsend's Woodland Nursery will sell Japanese maples, and two new artisan bakeries will offer their wares.
Artemis Breads will offer gluten-free breads and pastries.
Pane e Olio will sell Italian-style focaccia with traditional and local/seasonal toppings courtesy of Kellen Lynch, who is described by O'Donnell as a hometown boy who has made his way back to Port Townsend after culinary school and a few years cooking in some of Seattle's best restaurants.
The market is hosting the launch of the two bakeries.
“We really want to be a place that people can start sustainable businesses,” O'Donnell said.
The market will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday through December.
The Saturday Port Townsend market is the first of the three Jefferson County markets to open for the season.
Chimacum Farmers Market's opening day will be Sunday, June 2. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Wednesday Port Townsend market will open for the season July 3.
It will run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at a location to be determined.
O'Donnell said the Saturday market can draw as many as 2,000 patrons on a nice day, with about 80,000 people attending every year.
He had expected that economic conditions over the past few years would decrease market business, but that has not happened, he said, adding that goods sold at the market may appear to be more expensive, but that isn't the case.
“If you compare us to what's available in a supermarket, it should be 'apples to apples,'” he said.
“If you compare the price of organic lettuce at the market with the same product at Safeway.”
O'Donnell said measures are in place to make it easier for lower-income people to shop at the market, which is the recipient of a grant from the state Attorney General's Office.
Under this agreement, those with an EBT card can get an additional $5 if they purchase $10 in negotiable tokens.
Also, a grant from the Women, Infants and Children and Senior Farmers program provides $5 vouchers to those who qualify.
“We want to help people fill up their baskets with more fresh and healthy food,” O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell said most people are willing to spend a little more for quality food.
“People have found that calories are cheap, and nutrition and health are more expensive,” he said.
“We are encouraging people to invest in local, healthy and nutritious food.”
O'Donnell said most of the people attending the market are local, with some visitors from out of the area, though he shies away from using the word “tourists.”
“We are a foodie destination,” he said.
“We attract people who share our values about the importance of local food.”
For more information, visit www.jeffersoncountyfarmersmarket.org.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.