There may be no better setting for a growers market than a city park.
With the aroma of baked goods, lunch fixings and alluring garden produce attracting a Thursday throng, Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market has settled in for its 2017 season at Hawthorne Park.
The spring weather has been a mix of bluster, spray and occasional sunshine, but this week was promising from the get-go.
"We've seen an increase in people, and more people are getting involved," said James Mulhern of Rise Up Artisan Bread in the Applegate Valley. "It's great to see people out and about and the sunshine coming through. We've been selling a lot, and it seems it's getting better for everybody. It's great to see local food supported."
Rise Up Artisan Bread, owned by Jo Ferneau and Rosie Demmin, has operated for nine years in the Little Applegate Valley. It now produces about 2,000 loaves per week.
"Last season, Ashland was a lot busier than Medford," Mulhern said. "From what we've noticed, Ashland has seen a decline, and Medford has seen a great influx — a lot more families, new mothers and older folks, as well. It's been really interesting to see the demographics that show up, especially on a Thursday during working hours. But I think people are getting inspired — with the current administration, people want to get more involved in their community."
Four & Twenty Blackbirds Bakery, an Ashland fixture since 1988, has seen real possibilities since rolling out its pies, scones, muffins and cookies in the Medford market two weeks ago.
"We decided we'd come here because we really wanted to expand into this wonderful community, said Alfred Hanan. "We're at the Ashland market every Tuesday. We have been in some stores here, but we're expanding all the time, and we thought this was a great opportunity to make sure everybody here (could) try some of our delicious pie."
The fair-like atmosphere appeals to Penny Green, who came for lunch.
"I've been coming for three or four years," Green said. "I come because I like to support the local farmers, so I get a CSA box and I enjoy all the other vendors as well and get some lunch."
After moving to Hawthorne Park from the Medford Armory in 2016, the market seems to have found itself in the heart of Medford.
"I love working at the market," Mulhern said. "It's really a great time to interact with customers and get to know the community that exists here in the Rogue Valley."
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/EconomicEdge.