Port Townsend Farmers Market welcomes new director; Amanda Milholland returns to roots to lead hometown event
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Newly named Port Townsend Farmers Market Director Amanda Milholland prepares her garden for the winter with help from her three-month-old daughter, Inez.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — The Halloween edition of the Port Townsend Farmers Market will introduce its new director, a Port Townsend native who has returned to the area to become involved in the local food movement and raise her family.

“Food and farming are the two things that I'm really passionate about,” said Amanda Milholland, 33, who was named this week as a replacement for Will O'Donnell.

O'Donnell, 39, is leaving his position at the end of the month after serving in it for seven years.

Milholland will take over from O'Donnell at the Oct. 31 market.

“Buying local food helps support the economy,” she said, “and at the farmers market, you are buying food from the people who are growing the food.”

Milholland, 33, graduated from Port Townsend High School in 2000. She attended Evergreen College and spent two years in the Peace Corps before settling in Portland, Ore., where she met Gabe Van Lelyveld, also a Port Townsend native whom she had known peripherally in high school.

The couple wed in May. They have a daughter, Inez.

Inez, who carries her mother's surname, is named after Inez Millholland Boissevain, a distant relative who was an important figure in the women's suffrage movement in the early 20th century.

The historical Inez Milholland was recently named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of 10 women who belong on the new $10 bill, which is due in 2020 and is to feature a woman on its face.

Amanda Milholland promises that both she and Inez will attend the Oct. 31 farmers market in costume.

The new farmers market director is the daughter of local activist Doug Milholland and his wife Nancy and the older sister of Danny Milholland, also an activist and entrepreneur.

She joined the Peace Corps in 2006 and was assigned to Uganda with the intention of providing HIV counseling but was impressed by the agricultural society

“A community has a lot more financial security when it has a close relationship with its food and where it comes from,” she said.

“This connection increases community resiliency and it is important for me to live in a place that has that kind of connection.”

O'Donnell said he has no concrete plans about the next phase of his life, only that he “wants to do something different.”

During his tenure, the market has grown from a 12-vendor event behind City Hall to a weekly community celebration that attracts 70 vendors and pulls in more than $1 million a year.

Each vendor pays a booth fee and a percentage of profits to the market. That funds administration, publicity and expenses, Milholland said.

Milholland said she wants more youth programs at the market, specifically planning to present a children's music show at least once a month.

She also would like to increase options for lower-income families to purchase food.

“When you buy produce from a supermarket, it is less expensive but it is usually grown far away, using workers who are not paid well,” she said.

“When you buy local, you support local farmers and keep the money in the community.”

O'Donnell said in a news release that Milholland brings “the exact right combination of applicable professional skills, community connections and engaging personal presence.”

The Port Townsend Farmers Market operates from March to December at the corner of Lawrence Street and Tyler Street.

The Jefferson County Farmers Market also operates seasonal markets on Wednesday in Port Townsend and on Sunday in Chimacum.

For more information, go to jcfmarkets.org.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 21. 2015 11:26AM
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