By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“Farmers markets have become culturally relevant,” Amanda Milholland told a class of about 30 Chimacum High School students Thursday.
“They can benefit communities in a number of ways. They become a social hub as they help to generate traffic for businesses around the area.”
Milholland has addressed several groups in preparation for the season's opening of the Port Townsend Farmers Market at 9 a.m. Saturday at the corner of Lawrence and Tyler streets.
There will be a ribbon cutting and an appearance by Derek Sandison, state Department of Agriculture director.
The market's annual goat parade will feature kids and adult goats from Harmony's Way Farm and live music by Otto and Kristin Smith.
About 70 vendors are expected this year. They will offer produce, meat and dairy farms, artisan cheese-makers, craft alcohol producers and a selection of prepared food and art and craft vendors.
While attendance varies, Milholland said on average, about 2,500 people shop or socialize at the market every Saturday.
The Port Townsend market operates from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Sunday through Dec. 17.
The Jefferson County Farmers Market also operates a Chimacum Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays from June 5 to Oct. 30 and a small market from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Wednesday from June 15 to Sept. 14.
Milholland hopes to connect the market to local youth and provide more children's activities, which provides the motive for her visits to schools.
“What I say during one of these presentations may not make an immediate impact but could affect them in the long term,” Milholland said.
“When I was their age, I wasn't quite sure what to do with my life. I want these kids to be aware of what's happening here and possibly work in farming or local food production.”
Teacher Gary Coyan said he invited Milholland to increase students' awareness of their environment.
“I wanted to connect what we are doing in horticulture and food classes with the community,” he said.
“Sometimes if it's not right in your face, you forget that you are living in such an amazing, vibrant farming community, if you haven't known anything else.”
Milholland outlined the difference between shopping at a farmers market and at a large grocery store.
“If you buy something from a grocery store, some money will stay in the community, but most of it will go to the owners who live elsewhere,” she said.
“At a farmers market, you buy from the people who grow the food and keep 100 percent of the cost of the item.”
After her presentation, Milholland had the students stand in a circle with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them.
At her signal, they all sat down on the lap of the person behind them.
“If the person isn't there, you fall on the floor and break the circle,” she said.
“This is like a farmers market, where you depend on a lot of different people to make it work.”
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.