Farmers market readies for busy summer

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NORTH BEND - One of the first signs of summer is set to open again this month in North Bend.

Organizers of the North Bend Farmers Market are planning for another summer of produce and crafts, all grown or made in Washington.

"It has to be handmade or grown [to be at the farmers market]," said Pam Whittington, a board member for the Mount Si Senior Center who is also an organizer of the market.

Last year, the Mount Si Senior Center took over operation of the farmers market, which was a popular but costly event that had been running for three years. The senior center wanted to make the market a fund raiser for the programs the center offers and took over the reins.

At its peak, the market drew about 1,000 people, an impressive amount for a 4-hour time span every Saturday. The market has featured fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmers, such as Full Circle Farms, and crafts from local artisans. Last year the market invited master gardeners to come and give advice to anyone who had a questions about growing in the Valley.

"A lot of people found them helpful [master gardeners] last year," said market manager Dawn Taylor.

Organizers are looking for much of the same this year.Vendors from around the state will be invited to bring their food and wares. Fresh flowers and fresh fish will be available along with advice from the master gardeners, who also will be back.

Although much will remain as it has in previous years, that does not mean every Saturday will be the same. As the summer progresses, more produce is made available so the selection can change from one week to the next. New vendors also can sign up for a table throughout the year, making no two trips to the market the same.

The farmers market has been nothing but a good thing for the senior center. Meals at the senior center, which are served Monday through Friday, have more fresh produce and the center also has become involved in a voucher program to help low-income senior citizens purchase produce at the market. In addition to a thrift shop that opened last year and a new shuttle service the center is offering, the farmers market is just one more reason for people to get involved with the Mount Si Senior Center.

* The North Bend Farmers Market will be open for its first day on Saturday, starting June 12 and running until Sept. 25. The market will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mount Si Senior Center, 411 Main Ave.S. in North Bend.

The senior center is also in need of volunteers who help with just about every aspect of putting on the farmers market. Those interested in helping out are invited to call (425) 888-3434.

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