Something amazing happened at the acre sometime in the last two weeks. We had finally found a groove in allocating our time between the day jobs and farming. Planting was happening, transplanting was getting done, irrigation was timely. And weeding, we’d even kept up with the majority of the weeding. And that’s when it happened. We realized we had vegetables big enough to take to market.
Luckily we had been preparing in the wings, just in case any of our vegetables were marketable, and we had the basic supplies ready. We submitted our Salem Saturday Market application and continued along. Last week we got a call from the Saturday Market folks letting us know that they were full. While we were welcome to show up around 5:30am and line up for a spot in case a vendor canceled, they couldn’t guarantee us a space. We panicked a little and promptly re-evaluated our options. Should we harvest our meager supply Friday night for a potential showing Saturday morning? Were there other markets still accepting vendors? If so, how far away were they? And if our goal is to have a CSA subscription program one day, would it be beneficial to begin cultivating customers further away?
Thursday we dropped by a retirement party being held at Thompson’s Brewery in South Salem for one of Jeff’s colleagues. Next door to the Brewery, in the parking lot of the Salem Heights Community Hall, were signs for the South Salem Farmer’s Market. The signs stated that the market is held on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays so we decided to check it out Friday at lunch. When we returned Friday we quickly discovered how tiny the Market is as there was just two booths, a strawberry vendor and a potted plant vendor. We got the number of the market coordinator who told us that space was open and we could be the primary vegetable booth if we wanted it. Much discussion about the market size and location ensued. The market is tiny, but so are we right now. We decided to try it out.
Saturday, in search of rhubarb and pricing comparison, we stopped by the Salem Saturday Market. I found no rhubarb but we were both blown away by the quantity and variety of vegetables available. We got a late start, but these folks had zucchini by the wheel barrels full and green beans galore. We felt a little disheartened as we flashed to the kale, collards, and chard ready for harvest in our field but also glad we hadn’t attempted to compete with those farms. We continued through the market and happened upon the Minto Island Growers booth where we were relieved to see a friendly face in a set-up much closer to our own visions. Renewed with the belief that we could indeed make a go of it with what we had, we harvested Saturday night. Each new experience has been an interesting learning experience and our first harvest was no different. Combing through the beds of vegetables in search of harvestable produce was exhilarating. Just seeing how much was really out there to harvest was a great experience.
The Market ran from 10am to 4pm yesterday. For our first day and the size of the market, we feel we made a successful showing. We were one of two booths, the other being strawberries and the obvious bigger draw. We sold out of our meager supplies of peas and potatoes and the salad mix was popular. We sold the majority of our colorful chard and head lettuce and a few bunches of mustard greens and collards. It was a long day but a good one too. Overall the customers were enthusiastic and, assuming the first taste was positive, they indicated they’d be back and were excited to have us in the neighborhood. We’re excited too and hope to continue to provide fresh, seasonal vegetables throughout the summer.
Come look for us on Sundays in South Salem at the corner of Liberty and Madrona!