Farmers markets to celebrate on the Peninsula this Saturday

Port Angeles and Port Townsend farmers markets are celebrating National Farmers Market Week with special events.

National Farmers Market Week began Sunday and extends through Saturday.

The Port Angeles Farmers Market will host a sidewalk chalk drawing contest for children younger than 16 and another contest for adults. Both will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the market in The Gateway pavilion at Front and Lincoln streets.

Contestants are encouraged to draw their favorite fruit or vegetable.

Farmers market customers and vendors will vote for the best drawing in each category.

The winner in the children’s category will receive a $10 gift certificate. A $20 gift certificate will go to the winner in the adult’s category. Contestants need not be present to win.

At the Port Townsend Farmers Market, Chef Arran Stark will cook local produce from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

During the month of August, Stark also is hosting a Wednesday cooking class in partnership with Jefferson County Farmers Markets and with support from Jefferson Healthcare and the Port Townsend Food Co-op.

The free community classes are from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the culinary arts room at the Port Townsend High School, 1500 Van Ness St.

Class topics will include meal planning, preparing local vegetables, lean meat and protean, whole grains and beans, and cooking on a budget.

Limited space is still available. To sign up, contact Amanda Milholland, market manager, at info@jcfmarkets.org or 360-379-9098.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers markets have increased nationwide by more than 60 percent since 2009 to more than 8,500 today.

Growers selling locally create 13 full-time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned while those that do not sell locally only create three, USDA said.

According to the Washington State Farmers Market Association and research by Washington State University, sales at just 115 markets surpassed $44 million in 2015, averaging $406,000 per market.

The Port Angeles Farmers Market began in 1984 and currently has nine farmers selling a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

In 2015 the Port Angeles Farmers Market generated more than $358,000 for local producers, said Cynthia Warne, market manager.

“The Port Angeles Farmers Market began accepting electronic benefit transfer food stamp [EBT] benefits in 2010 enabling low-income members of the community to have access to healthier food choices,” Warne said.

“This year we received a two-year grant to extend EBT recipient’s buying power with the Fresh Bucks program. For every $5 a customer purchases in EBT tokens they receive $2 in Fresh Bucks to spend on any EBT eligible foods.”

Fresh produce is healthier, Milholland said.

“Produce loses nutritional value as time elapses from the time of harvest,” she added. “Jefferson County Farmers Market vendors travel less than 50 miles to bring fresh produce to the Port Townsend and Chimacum Farmers Markets.”

The Jefferson County Farmers Markets offering the food assistance programs Gimme5 and Fresh Bucks make it easier for all shoppers, regardless of income, to eat nutrition-dense food from local farms.

Since the inception of Gimme5 in 2013, the markets have provided community members who are low-income with more than $37,000 in matching funds for food from area farms, she said.

Jefferson County Farmers Markets has partnerships with such agencies as Jefferson Healthcare, the Port Townsend Food Co-op, United Good Neighbors, the USDA and Pane d’Amore Bakery.

For more information on the Port Angeles Farmers Market, see http://port angelesfarmersmarket.com.

For more information on the Jefferson County Farmers Markets, see http://jcf markets.org/