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Farmers Markets Signal Spring in the Willamette Valley

By Matt Wastradowski

It's no secret that farming is big business in Oregon. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Willamette Valley alone produces more than 170 crops and commodities each year-and, in all, roughly 35,000 farms throughout the state help make agriculture a $50 billion industry in Oregon.

And while the arrival of spring means warmer temperatures and colorful blooms for most of us, the season means something else to Oregon farmers: Spring brings the chance to celebrate and share their bounty at farmers markets throughout the state.

Even with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic keeping much of the Willamette Valley indoors and at home, this spring is no different: More than a dozen markets will open this spring and summer, offering the chance to support local growers, eat healthy, and share in the riches of the region.

Farmers markets are considered an “essential” business-but will open this season with new rules, restrictions, and regulations for keeping everyone safe and healthy. Exact policies may vary from market to market, but here's a quick rundown of what to expect this spring:

A collection of squash sitting on top of a table for sale at a farmers market.
  • Shopper Limits: Market organizers are generally asking just one shopper per household, per visit. (That means no pets, please.)
  • Sampling: Most, if not all, markets are prohibiting samples.
  • Food Packaging: Most items will be pre-bagged and inaccessible to customers before purchasing; if you'd like to buy something, you may be asked to request it from the vendor, rather than touch the item.
  • Hot Foods: If vendors are dishing prepared food items, they will serve it to-go, and visitors won't be allowed to eat at the market itself.
  • Social Distancing: Staff and volunteers will be on hand to ensure visitors are keeping six feet apart at all times.

Which markets will open this spring? Here's a rundown of some regional favorites. Just keep in mind that rules may change at any time, so check online before visiting a market-just to be safe.

Corvallis-Albany Farmers' Markets: The Corvallis-Albany Farmers' Markets will showcase baked goods, honey, produce, and other regional favorites; the Albany market will open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays between April 18 and Nov. 21, and the Corvallis market will open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Wednesdays between April 22 and Nov. 25.

Independence Farmers Markets: Independence offers a pair of markets in its growing downtown core, each boasting fresh produce, flowers, handmade goods, and more. The Original Independence Farmers Market and the Riverview Market are open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through November. (The Original Independence Farmers Market is asking visitors to practice smart social distancing this year; among other changes, that means that only one shopper is permitted in each booth, and produce will be pre-bagged.)

Lane County Farmers Market: Based in Eugene, the Lane County Farmers Market will be open Saturdays through Nov. 14; the hours of 9-11 a.m. will be reserved for seniors and high-risk visitors, and the general public will be welcome 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can also stop by a Tuesday market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays between May 5 and Oct. 27. Keep in mind that no public tables or seating will be provided, booths will be spaced out further than usual to accommodate social distancing, and visitors are asked not to handle produce and food items that they are not buying.

McMinnville Farmers Market: The McMinnville Farmers Market will open May 7 and continue 12-6 p.m. Thursdays through October. The downtown market features more than 60 vendors selling seasonal produce, farm-raised meats, fresh flowers, and more.

Pints of cherry tomatoes for sale at a market.

McMinnville Grange Farmers Market: The year-round Farmers Market at the Grange is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays-and is currently limited to food vendors selling pre-packaged items (or fare that the vendors will package themselves).

Newberg Wednesday Market: The Newberg Wednesday Market will offer produce from area farmers, crafts, flowers, and food items to-go. Hand-sanitizing stations will be available this year, and vendors will be asked to provide sanitizer, as well. The market will run 4-8 p.m. Wednesdays between May 6 and Sept. 30.

Oregon City Farmers Market: The Oregon City Farmers Market is currently open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. As of April 11, 2020, visitors are not permitted to walk through the market; rather, customers can order items ahead of time (either by contacting vendors directly or through the market's mobile app) and drive through a line of vendors to collect their orders.

Salem Saturday Market: The Salem Community Markets will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays between April 4 and Oct. 31; 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays between May 4 and Sept. 28; and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursdays between May 7 and Sept. 10. The market will feature a mix of produce, plants, dairy items, and more-and will encourage healthy practices through additional hand-washing stations, limitations on the number of visitors in each booth, safety signage, and more.

Sherwood Saturday Market: The Sherwood Saturday Market will run 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays between May 2 and September. The market's vendors sell a wide variety of goods, including produce, salsa, baked goods, artisan items, and honey.

Spencer Creek Community Growers Market: The Spencer Creek Community Growers Market will open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays between May 30 and Oct. 10, serving fresh produce, nuts, eggs, baked goods, and more.

Sweet Home & Lebanon Downtown Farmers' Market: The Sweet Home Farmers' Market will run 2-6 p.m. Tuesdays between June 2 and Sept. 29, and the Lebanon Downtown Farmers' Market will run 2-6 p.m. Thursdays between May 21 and October. Vendors will sell baked goods, homemade ice cream, produce, whole grains, produce, plants, and more.

Veneta Downtown Farmers Market: The Veneta Downtown Farmers Market will open for the season on May 2, and continue 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through October. Visitors can pick up produce, baked goods, arts and crafts, and more.

West Linn Summer Street Market: The West Linn Summer Street Market offers a mix of fresh produce, artisan crafts, vintage items, a beer and wine garden, and more. It will run 4-8 p.m. Wednesdays between June 3 and August 26.

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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