One of the mobile market sites is in the small town of Mosier (population 460). We visited to see how their market is promoting community and healthy, local eating.
The Mosier Farmers’ Market is held on Sunday afternoon, from 4 to 7 PM. We arrived early to help set up in the parking lot of the 10 Speed East Coffee Shop and the adjacent vacant gas station lot, where the market is held. The merchants started arriving and setting up their displays and canopies about 3 PM. Then the local fire truck arrived to block off the street between the two parking lots and filled a small pool with water for kids to cool off in.
We met Suzi Conklin who explained that this is the first year they’ve had a farmer’s market. She and some friends had taken a study course from the Northwest Earth Institute called “Menu for the Future” and decided that Mosier needed a farmers’ market. They investigated the neighboring Hood River Farmers’ market, talked with the managers there, learned about the Gorge Grown Food Network and the mobile farmers’ market, and started planning. Thus, the Mosier Farmers’ Market came about. The first market day was July 3, 2011.
When the market was all set up, it was a bustling and busy sight:There were about 10 fruit and vegetable vendors. The most common vegetables were tomatoes, green peppers and summer squash, but we also saw eggplant, hot peppers, cucumbers, potatoes (red, yellow, blue). Fruits for sale included blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and melons. Theo, the son of one of the vendors was selling “natural bird feeders” (sunflower heads).
There were other food items, too. Various vendors offered honey, jams, preserves, pickled beets, baked goods, eggs, pork and beef. One of the vegetable vendors was making vegetable juice smoothies.
The mobile farmers’ market truck and its stand offered some items others didn’t have, such as sweet corn, cherries, bread, kale and shallots, as well as many of the vegetables that the other vendors had. The driver appeared to know all the other farmers and was quick to refer customers to them.
Additional booths included the Seniors of Mosier Valley, who were selling lawn ornaments, weather vanes and raffle tickets for a quilt to help purchase a new refrigerator. The local volunteer fire department was selling t-shirts and sweatshirts and recruiting for additional volunteer fire fighters. The mayor had a table to sell her hand-made jewelry. Another woman was selling candles, plants, cutting boards, and glass ornaments. One young girl, with her mother’s help, had a few games for the kids and was also selling water and muffins to raise funds to go on the 6th-grade school class trip to England.
The information booth, manned by one of the organizers, gave out information about the market, sold some posters and some consignment items such as granola and small numbers of red, yellow and purple cherry tomatoes. They gave away house plants in exchange for donations for the school garden.
We were told that five years ago, only 1% of the produce consumed by people in the Columbia River Gorge was produced locally. This vibrant new Mosier Farmers’ Market is already improving its local community food system and helping reach the goal set by the Gorge Grown Food Network of 20% local produce by the year 2020.