Peninsula-grown Thanksgiving: Farmers urge purchase of local produce

DUNGENESS — If you detested Brussels sprouts as a child, Devon Beck has news for you.

The little round vegetables are so sweet when they’re fresh from the field, you can munch on them raw, as she did recently.

“I also like them roasted up with olive oil,” said Beck, a staffer at Nash’s Organic Produce in Dungeness.

Since she works at Nash’s Farm Store, at 1865 E. Anderson Road north of Sequim, Beck may be biased in favor of such things.

But she’s joined by Kia Armstrong, president of the Port Angeles Farmers Market, and Wendie Dyson, manager of the Port Townsend Farmers Market, in her hope that you’ll include local bounty on your Thanksgiving table.

Final PT market

Today is the final Port Townsend market day of the year, and some 15 local growers will lay out their produce: from apples to honey to winter squashes. The farmers market stretches along Tyler Street from Lawrence to Clay, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Despite this fall’s national economic turmoil, both Dyson and Armstrong report that neither the Port Townsend nor Port Angeles market has seen a decrease in appetites for local organic produce.

“At least half of our vendors have done better than last year,” Dyson added.

“My hope is that people are seeing the value of investing their dollar locally, so their money stays in the community. And people aren’t traveling as far, so that makes them more likely to shop here.”

PA market

Armstrong said the Port Angeles Farmers Market, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and other Saturdays at Fourth and Peabody streets year-round, is also holding its own.

“We have a strong base of customers who know they can count on local food. They know where it comes from, and they know the people who grow it,” she said.

While the Port Townsend market is among the most successful in Washington — Dyson said the vendors roster has tripled since 2001 — it isn’t year-round like Port Angeles because many Jefferson County farmers just don’t have a lot of produce in midwinter.

Clallam growers are another story. Armstrong said about a dozen vendors set up stands every Saturday, through all four seasons.

This weekend, the last before Thanksgiving, is the time to shop for potatoes and carrots to “nestle around the bird,” she said, adding that local farmers also offer fresh herbs and garlic for stuffing and greens for salads and stir-frying.

Armstrong urges North Olympic Peninsula residents to visit www.PugetSoundFresh.org for recipes and tips about which local produce is freshest when.

Those who visit the site by today — and pledge to include a locally grown food in their Thanksgiving feasts — can enter to win one of five heritage turkeys raised in Washington or a year’s supply of Organic Valley dairy products.

And for the Jefferson County residents who’ll miss their farmers’ market this winter, Armstrong added that Nash’s Organic Produce will set up a farm stand from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday beginning Dec. 6 at the Port Townsend Food Co-op, 414 Kearney St.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]

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