Willamina gets its own Saturday Market

WILLAMINA — Mayor Corey Adams cut the ribbon at the inaugural Willamina Saturday Market a little past 10 a.m. on July 6. On this first Saturday, the market featured 11 vendors — three small farmers, a jeweler, a restaurateur, a coffee roaster and a West Valley Community Campus representative.

Next year, the Saturday Market will be held on the campus, a reincarnation of the old Willamina High School campus, purchased two years ago by Dick Paay through Paay LLC. This year, it is being held on a section of downtown street, closed off for the occasion.

Dave Buswell manned the campus table to inform market-goers about the new community event venue. He said it totals 44,000 square feet, of which 7,000 has been renovated for re-use so far.

Buswell said Paay is soliciting ideas from the community. He said about 40 have come in so far, one calling for development of a community theater and another for a community kitchen.

City leaders touted both the Community Campus and Saturday Market as signs of a revitalization under way in Willamina. They said the market also signals the rising value placed on locally grown produce, as opposed to the mass-market produce often imported from distant points for sale in chain supermarkets.

The mission statement of the Community Campus reflects that. It calls fo the campus to be “a catalyst for change,” to “bring together our rural communities and create a community that maybe we could not create singly.”

Among the first-day vendors was the Bare family of Bare Farms. They have traditionally raised cattle and hay, but fourth-generation members Sage and Amanda Baller have diversified into produce, chicken, eggs, canned goods and plant starts as well, all offered Saturday, along with locally raised beef.

Autumn Greenwood of Honeycreeper Farm is at the other end of the spectrum. She just launched her operation four years ago.

“We raise a little of everything at our place,” she said, citing fare that includes bacon, eggs, jelly and jam.

“I love raising pigs and chickens, and we went from there,” Greenwood said. The eventual goal, said said, is to “raise a whole diet.”

Nick Marrant, the market’s founder and manager, said many longtime local farmers have begun diversifying their operations of late. They are even selling fabric woven on home looms, hand-made quilts and jam and jelly products, not just traditional produce.

Marrant said the goal of the Willamina market, modeled after McMinnville’s, is simply to “keep it local.” He said McMinnville market founder Barbara Boyer had helped him with the planning and execution, and that’s the mantra that had worked for her.

He said that the city council has been very supportive of the market, as well as other community-oriented efforts in Willamina. He said it would run 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday from July 6 through Aug. 24 this year.

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