A Look Back at a Farmers Market Success Story

In the summer of 2008, NorthWest Crossing debuted its first Farmers Market with a dozen vendors along the small block of Fort Clatsop Street. The Market was founded on the desire to create an experience beyond shopping, where neighbors and community members alike can support one another. “That first year was a huge leap of faith, for us and the vendors who started with us,” said Valerie Yost, NorthWest Crossing Marketing Director, reflecting back on the time. “We wanted to create a sense of community and bring neighbors out to support their local farmers and artists.” Back then there was a much smaller pool of vendors to choose from and  it was about having enough product variety to be able effectively hold the event.  “We’ve come a long way,” says Yost. “From our humble beginnings, we’ve established ourselves as a Saturday ritual for many families in Bend.” 

 

Over the years, Market organizers have offered a number of different programming elements at the Market. Music has alwa

ys been an important draw for the Market, but aside from farm vendors and artists, that has been about the only consistent piece! From petting zoos, aerial artists and chef demonstrations, to bagpipers and beekeeping experts, organizers have worked to seek out ways that would allow the NorthWest Crossing Farmers Market to be original and engaging.  

 

NWX resident and good friend to the developers, Dean Wise, brought his hoppy hobby of brewing beer to the market in those early years, to share his passion and offer tastings. Romy Mortensen, a board member of the NorthWest Crossing development team, remembers this time fondly as she explains how it just felt like everyone at the market was family and knew one another. As the Market has grown, that feeling has not only grown, but evolved. Although attendance has increased considerably, one can still appreciate the mix of new and familiar faces present at the Market each week. 

 

Many vendors have made their entrepreneurial debut with us, from community members sharing their hobbies, as well as established, growing businesses. Sparrow Bakery found a niche at the Market as a vendor that guided them to the decision to open a location in the NorthWest Crossing neighborhood center in 2014 to serve customers year-round. But even with a 2,000 square-foot restaurant space, Sparrow still sees the value of serving customers each Saturday on the street at the Market.  

 

An important aspect of the Market has always been to support local nonprofits and give back to the community. The

High Desert Food and Farm Alliance (HDFFA) has been a central component of the market for the past 4 years, creating a place where market-goers can contribute to a growing food-pantry, working to provide foods beyond non-perishables.  HDFFA is part of a team trying to grow our fresh-food pantry in Central Oregon and are at the Market

each week to accept monetary donations that are spent on fresh produce, as well as produce donations from market patrons and farmers with leftover product at the end of each day. With this effort, the NWX Farmers Market is helping the vulnerable populations in our community gain access to fresh, healthy foods.

 

Providing educational opportunities to the community are just as important to Market organizers. Over the years, we have hosted many organizations and demonstrations that have enlightened and inspired guests, from composting to

Kim Rivera of Backyard Bees of Bend

cooking techniques. This year, the Community Spotlight Vendor booth is sponsored by FarmMade and has featured Kim Rivera of Backyard Bees of Bend, and our local CampFire chapter. The goal of this booth is to add a community education element to the market, where visitors can learn more about different activities and organizations in the area. 

 

To our vendors that have been with us throughout the years: thank you! We truly appreciate those that have traveled on this journey with us. KarenLynn of BlissPillow is one of those long-time vendors and remembers her debut summer in 2009. She attributes her expanding business in part to her consistent commitment to our Market in a growing neighborhood. In reflecting back to her early Market days, she even believes that she was our first vendor selling non-edible items. To gain that spot, she remembers having to sell her company to the market manager, explaining that her millet-filled pillows are farm-sourced and therefore an appropriate product to be featured in a farmers market! 

 

Today, we are proud at not just the growth of the Market, but of the quality of vendors that we host, each with their own unique product or service that contributes to the character of our Market and community. It has grown to be a place where you can not only do your fresh food shopping or buy your loved ones a unique gift, but also enjoy meeting new business owners, experiencing local music, or simply meet a friend for lunch on a beautiful summer Saturday. We are grateful for ten years of amazing sponsors, vendors, and patrons, for this Market would be nothing without all of the generous support.