April showers may bring May flowers, but those flowers are also the lead into the best part of spring: The opening of area farmers’ markets.
The Pasco and Prosser farmers’ market both open the first weekend of May with the Kennewick and Richland markets opening in June. And area farmers are deep in dirt getting ready.
“I’m looking out my back window and see a guy planting seeds in a field and others pulling handlines,” said Alan Schreiber of Schreiber & Sons in Eltopia. Schreiber is one of many farmers who regularly send produce to the area farmers’ markets.
“We are planting five days a week right now – two in the green house and three in the fields,” said Schreiber.
Mike Somerville, Pasco Farmers’ Market manager, said the markets initial week typically have a few dozen vendors with flowers, bedding plants, organic beef, free-range eggs, fresh honey and a few early spring vegetables.
But by late July and early August, more than 50 vendors are there each week with vast varieties of anything that can be grown in the Mid-Columbia soil. This year, market growers will be able to purchase everything for their dinners – and select a bottle of wine to enjoy with the fare.
Somerville said the Pasco Farmer’s Market has seen steady growth in his seven years as market manager, and now during the height of the season, 5,000 to 6,000 people visit the Pasco Farmers’ Market during the four hours it’s open on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Somerville said this year visitors can expect more entertainment, including belly dancers, bluegrass music and barbershop quartets, and local chefs may also be doing cooking demonstrations at the market.
The Kennewick Farmers’ Market which is from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. on Thursdays, won’t open until June 4, but market manager Ann Steiger said she is anticipating a busy year.
We’re the smaller of the three (Tri-Cities) markets, but we see growth every year,” she said.
At it peak, the market has about 30 vendors and the relaxed, intimate feel of the market gives visitors a greater opportunity to talk to the producers. “The farmers market is all about meeting the farmers and seeing where your feed is coming from,” she said. “You get to meet the producers and you can get recipes, or talk to them about storing and managing the produce.”
John and Tara Ebert, who started the Richland Farmers’ Market in 2006, said sales at the market have nearly tripled since the first year.
The Richland Farmers’ Market is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays and starts June 5. The market starts out with about 35 vendors and by the peak of the season has about 50,” she said.
The market’s peak attendance last year was on July 4, when more than 2,500 people walked through the market. “I think we are getting a pretty good reputation for vendors and we provide entertainment most weeks,” said John Ebert.