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Winter market opens at new location

A steady stream of late-morning customers Tuesday helped the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market kick off its Winter Market at a new location — Phoenix Plaza Civic Center, 220 N. Main St.

The market chose the spot for its location between Ashland and Medford, which host markets at other times of the year, said Executive Director Daria Land.

“We wanted to encourage Phoenix and Talent,” said Land.

Last year, the first season for the Winter Market, it was located in a warehouse in north Medford that didn’t have heat and didn’t offer much room for vendors. This year the Winter Market has 36 vendors, including some of the most popular from the other markets, said Land.

“It’s more central, warmer, there’s ample parking,” said Tom Clarke with Coquette Bakery, who was in last winter’s market. “The response has been great.”

Markets take place Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Feb. 25, although the board will soon decide whether to open Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, both of which fall on a Tuesday, Land said.

“It was a large market. It was very good. This is much more convenient for me,” said Sharry Teague of Ashland, who said she appreciated the 15-minute drive from her home and noted she went to last winter’s market also.

Teague said she’s glad the market stays open for the winter, then she grabbed a bite to eat at the Killa Dilla Quesadillas stand.

Others also said they were glad for the chance to continue to buy products from local growers and crafters in the winter.

“I hope to get the meals here,” said Roy Thomas of Medford, who had a stroller loaded with produce. “It’s well worth it.”

“I’m glad they are open for the winter,” said Jeanne Sexton, who lives in the Dark Hollow area.

Growers started a shift toward winter crops in September when they knew a market space would be available, said Land.

“It allows people to shift their diets seasonally,” said Christi Reilly with TerraSol Organics in the Applegate. Reilly raises greens, squash and pumpkins, and partners with another grower who supplies root crops and cabbages. She says lettuce she raises in a hothouse should be available into March, but after that it may be harder to come by.

“We’re doing good,” says Kyra Eddy of Sun Spirit Farm in the Applegate. Salad mix and other fresh items should be available throughout the market time, she said.

“I think I was the first sale this morning, which was fun,” said potter Benjamin Wood, of Studio B LLC.

Those seeking variety will find a good balance of commodities. While natural foods are the most dominant category, Land said, artisan food items, crafts, and food and beverage services are also popular. Among items available are lavender products, salts, salsa, herbs to fight allergies, kombucha, mushrooms and pasta.

“I have a feeling the food truck business will build,” said Land. One food truck was at Tuesday’s event, and two vendors set up hot food operations outside the main entrance.

“I’m so impressed with so many people here. It’s bustling,” said Peter Salant of Salant Farm Ranch in the Little Applegate, which has been selling its natural beef at market locations around the valley since 2008.

Early civic center planning called for use of the building as a market space, Mayor Chris Luz recalled. He said bookings for use of the space have exceeded the city’s expectations. Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency constructed the 6,500-square-foot building and turned it over to the city to operate in July 2018.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Patricia Bronstein of Walker Creek Farm helps Lilywood Moss of Phoenix buy some sweets at the Rogue Valley Growers Market inside the Phoenix Civic Center Tuesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Kyra Eddy of Sun Spirit Farm helps weigh vegetables for customers at the Rogue Valley Growers Market inside the Phoenix Civic Center Tuesday.