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Pro-fresh-ionals

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Farmers’ markets allow local growers to connect with consumers
Fresh produce at Barking Moon Farms booth at the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market in Ashland. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Krystin Williams, of Ashland, left, Genevieve Brown, 5, and Brianna Brown, of Ashland, shop on opening day of the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market in Ashland. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Flowers for sale at the Fry Family Farms booth at the Growers Market. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Flowers and vegetable starts are for sale at Fry Family Farm. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Nick Hardage buys plants from Ben Carder of Fry Family Farm at the Growers Market in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Jessica Stapp and her 3-year-old twins Royal (white hat), and Avalon sample Vital Salts at the Growers Market in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Jaimie Griffin, executive director of the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Markets in Ashland and Medford. [Courtesy photo]

There were no fireworks heralding the opening of the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Markets in Ashland and Medford March 1. But there was a lot of celebrating going on as crowds thronged to the outdoor markets.

Shoppers were welcomed by booths brimming with tumbling bunches of fragrant herbs and veritable forests of dark leafy greens. Vendors sold bedding plants, flowers, freshly baked loaves of bread, organic meats, winter and early spring produce, artisan goods, handcrafted gifts and more.

Fans of the market love the ambience of shopping for a cornucopia of goods in an outdoor setting. There’s a sense of community as friends greet friends. And the frugal among them appreciate being able to buy one sprig of dill or get a bargain on a basket of slightly dented tomatoes.

In addition, there are educational moments for children, inspiration for meal planning, and buskers playing music or making balloon animals to add to the fun.

Hours at the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market are 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays in Ashland at the National Guard Armory, 1420 E. Main St.; and 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursdays in Medford in Hawthorne Park, East Jackson and Hawthorne streets.

The Ashland market will move this summer, to a new location near Southern Oregon University. Watch for a future announcement and check for updates at rvgrowersmarket.com. The Ashland Saturday market on Oak Street opened May 7.

The outdoor market season runs through the end of November. As the seasons change, so does the mix of offerings at the market, reflecting what is being freshly harvested locally at the time.

The mix of vendors is quite varied.

You’ll find bakeries such as Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Bright Star, Coquette, Windmill, Rise Up! and others.

Offering freshly harvested vegetables and fruits are farms such as Antonio’s, Banyan, Barking Moon, Bigham, By George, Oak Valley, Green Ridge, Rolling Hills, Wild Circle, Windborne, Wizard Way, Waterleaf, Peach Rock, Whistling Duck, Tipsy Bee, Sweet Lucy and more.

Other growers sell microgreens, fresh eggs, lavender and flowers.

You can buy mushrooms, artisan cheeses, ice cream, coffee, cider, doughnuts, jewelry, jams, seafood, beef, pork, chocolates, soaps, salsa, skin care products, honey, shave ice, crafts and more.

Each market has food vendors ready with grab-and-go snacks and lunches you can eat on site or take home.

Double Up Food Bucks, SNAP and Oregon Trail Card participants are welcome. See the RVGCM for details on how the programs work.

The RVGCM is under new leadership. Jaimie Griffin is the new executive director.

She previously was the community relations director for a senior living community in the Rogue Valley. Before that, she was director of marketing and development for an orthopedic group in the Seattle area. Griffin grew up on a forestry farm in rural Washington State and professes a love for sustainable farming, with a specific interest in agroforestry practices.

“The Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market is a vital ingredient of our local food system and community,” she said. “It’s a centerpiece in the valley for connecting farmers to consumers, helping to bring fresh ingredients into our diets.”

Griffin said she admires the sense of community at the markets, as a place where neighbors shop together and farmers serve as food educators.

“It reinvigorates how consumers shop and eat,” she said. “I look forward to being able to make a positive impact on this organization and the community.”

If you haven’t experienced a trip to the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market, it may be time to check them out. You can’t get much more local than a farmers’ market.

These sustainable marketplaces present a unique opportunity to meet the people who grow your food, connect with your community, and explore the best in local farm-fresh produce and handcrafted items.

It’s all in good taste.

Click here to read the 2022 edition of Our Valley.