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Ashland farmers market announces move

Photo by Jim Flint Spring onions are available at the growers market, as well as early produce such as arugula, asparagus, beets, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic and leafy greens.

The Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market plans to relocate its Tuesday market in Ashland to the Southern Oregon University campus starting the first week in June.

The nearly two-acre plot of land is near SOU’s residential housing and football field at 1554 Webster St., across from Market of Choice on the Ashland Street side and across the street from Starbucks on the Walker Street side.

In its 35th season, the Ashland market has been located at the Ashland National Guard Armory since 2006, except for a brief period in June of 2015 when it operated on the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum lawn while the armory was inspected for lead dust contamination.

The armory has an upcoming remodel planned, during which time the market could not operate at the site.

“When we learned of this, our organization reactivated a site committee to look for a temporary location,” said Jaimie Griffin, executive director of growers market. “We reached out to SOU to start the process of having our market relocated to the Webster Street site for the next few years.”

The original plan was to move permanently to the ScienceWorks location, and that is still in the picture. But not until after Walker Elementary School no longer needs the space for modular classrooms while the aging school is being renovated. “Walker Village,” a cluster of mobile units, was set up at ScienceWorks in the fall of 2021.

Preparation of the SOU site includes light grading of the property to level the ground for safe walking for customers and vendors, readying an area for on-site parking, and installing an electrical infrastructure for vendors.

“We also have a detailed tree protection plan in place,” Griffin said.

Even though the Walker Elementary School renovation may be completed by early 2023, the market will use the SOU site for the next few years before considering the move to ScienceWorks. It has a facility lease agreement with SOU for up to three market seasons.

Photo by Jim Flint Bedding plants are plentiful at the growers market this time of year, along with early spring produce and locally made crafts.

The Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market plans to collaborate with SOU on several fronts at the new site, including zero waste initiatives and education components such as offering booth space at the market for the SOU Farm.

“The parking space at the new location will be comparable if not more than what we currently have at the armory,” Griffin said.

“The new location is highly visible from the street, so we hope to attract new market customers. Vendors are thrilled to have a Tuesday market location while the armory is under remodel,” she said.

She believes customers will like the new location.

“Ashland residents will have several ways to easily access the market,” she said, “whether by foot, bike or car.”

Griffin anticipates no change in the number of vendors at the new site. The vendor population is a bit smaller at the beginning and end of the season, peaking during the summer when more produce is available.

The Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market changed its Ashland market hours to 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. this year in anticipation of moving to the SOU site.

“In prior years it was 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.,” Griffin said. “The change was to help aid in securing the conditional use permit for the new location.”

Moving the market opening to 9 a.m. avoids peak traffic hours at the SOU location. The Ashland Saturday market (starting in May) and the Thursday Medford market retain the 8:30 a.m. opening time.

To find the market’s new SOU venue by car, when driving south on Ashland Street, turn left onto Walker Avenue, left on Webster Street, left on Stadium Way, then turn left into the customer parking area.

When driving north on Ashland Street, turn right onto Stadium Way, then turn right into the parking area.

There is no access to the market or the customer parking area from Walker Avenue.

With more than 150 registered vendors, the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market is committed to offering healthy options, organic produce, artisan foods and crafts, while buying locally and supporting local growers and crafts people.

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local, and that’s kind of the same thing,” Griffin said.

For updates and more information, go to rvgrowersmarket.com.

Reach Ashland writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.