By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The market opens for its 23rd season at 9 a.m. Saturday with a visit from state Secretary of Health John Wiesman, who will cut the ribbon that signals the availability of fresh produce, meat and crafts on a weekly basis.
The ribbon cutting will be followed by the market’s annual goat parade, which features flower-festooned fiddlers, mother and baby goats, and kids strolling around the market.
More than 60 vendors are expected to participate.
The market, which operates on Taylor Street between Lawrence and Clay streets from April to December, contributes not only to local nutritional health, it enhances the social and economic aspects of the region, according to participants.
“It’s a really fun community event and a great place to hang out,” said Red Dog Farm owner Karyn Williams, who has participated for 10 years.
“I get to see all of the other farmers and connect with my customers. It’s a fun scene to be part of every week.”
Williams said her sales at the market account for about 30 percent of her annual revenue.
“It’s like payday,” she said.
“It’s how I buy my seeds and pay my employees.”
The first day is always special to Williams because “it’s like starting school again. It’s a bit of a reunion and a party.”
Will O’Donnell, the market’s director, said that Wiesman is making the trip to Port Townsend to help celebrate the market’s opening while promoting his Healthiest Next Generation initiative.
The goal of the initiative is to help children maintain a healthy weight, enjoy active lives and eat well by making changes in early learning settings, schools and communities.
Port Townsend already has a head start in meeting a number of the initiative’s goals, O’Donnell said.
“In the past few years, we’ve made a lot of progress getting good food into the hospital and the schools,” O’Donnell said.
“The market is at the center of this effort.”
O’Donnell said that 2014 was the market’s best year, pulling in more than $1 million in sales at the Saturday market alone.
There are no projections for 2015, with the goal “to make local food more accessible to more locals, regardless of income level,” he said.
Visitors to the Port Townsend Farmers Market will find lots of seasonal produce: from greens of all shapes and sizes to leeks, potatoes and other produce.
It also features a variety of food vendors along with fresh local coffee.
The mild winter and warm spring has led to an early bumper crop of tulips, which will be available by the bucketload on opening day.
Eggs will also be in abundance, and their spring yolks are typically a beautiful orange, O’Donnell said.
The market also features local beef, pork, chicken, lamb and salmon direct from the producer or fisherman.
O’Donnell predicts a good business for the market this year but with a possible drawback late in the season.
“The Olympic Mountains didn’t get any snow this year, so this could affect our water supply,” he said.
“This could affect the planting season, and there could be fewer crops in the fall.”
The Saturday market is one of three managed by Jefferson County Farmers Markets.
The Chimacum Farmers Market operates Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. between June and October.
The market is located at the Chimacum Corner Farmstand, across from the Chevron where state Highway 19 meets Chimacum and Center roads.
Also, the Wednesday afternoon market operates on Polk Street between Lawrence and Clay streets in Port Townsend from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. beginning in July.
For more information, visit www.jeffersoncountyfarmersmarket.org.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.