By Molly • Molly Walker • 

Farmers Market gearing up for season

The market, founded in 2001 under the auspices of the McMinnville Downtown Association, is set to kick off its season from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23. It will be setting up in its usual location, along Cowls Street between Second and Third streets.

Harris said she and Boyer began planning for the transition in January 2012 — well in advance of the late spring opening of the market’s 2012 run.

“It was absolutely critical that I did the first year of volunteering,” she said. It was also helpful, she said, that she got to attend farmers market conferences in Oregon and Washington, as it gave her a broader picture.

“McMinnville is a very well respected market,” Harris said. When she told participants which one she would be managing, she said, the typical response was, “Oh, that’s a great market.”

“It’s awesome to take over something so well respected,” Harris said, and she gives much of the credit to the vendors.

“The vendors have a great culture,” she said. “It’s a very respectful culture.”

While she doesn’t plan a lot of outward changes, she does aim to make some subtle tweaks, based on her long experience as an event planner, marketing specialist and sales professional.

She lives on a farm with her fiancé, Scott Cunningham, who owns the Community Plate restaurant downtown.

But she said she isn’t really a farmer. She can raise animals, but doesn’t do so well with plants, she said.

“The changes you’ll see will be in the user experience,” Harris said. For example, she said, the Downtown Association booth will be enlarged and maps will be printed each week to track vendor locations.

Harris credited Boyer, the MDA and the market’s steering committee for teaming up to offer support and smooth the transition.

“They’ve been fantastic,” she said. “I don’t feel alone in the process.

“I feel like I’ve been given the silver platter. It’s something I’m excited about doing.”

This year’s poster features a market rendition created by Carlton artist Lester Ancheta. It was actually chosen from last year’s submissions.

Harris has revised the logo and added downtown to the title, to help brand the market as an MDA enterprise. The logo will appear on a range of promotional material, including shirts, hats, water bottles and other items.

Most of last year’s vendors are returning, and they will be joined by some new ones. The average weekly market attendance for last year was 3,200.

The main focus with be on direct sale of farm fresh foods to the consumer. The lineup includes fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, eggs and cheese, jam and honey, plus an array of craft items.

Special Kids’ Day events will be held periodically, starting on opening day. In addition, musicians will have a chance to play and wineries will get a chance to stage tastings.

The market will continue operating from 1 to 6 p.m. every Thursday through Oct. 10. For more information, contact the MDA at 503-472-3605.

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