PORT TOWNSEND — Children from Swan School kept the beat with sticks as Anne-O and Her Band played tunes Wednesday.
The kindergartners and first-graders, part of the Explorers program at the school in uptown Port Townsend, had individually picked out their own produce items during the final day of the Wednesday Farmers Market at the Haines Place Park & Ride.
Their teacher, Emily Gohn, said they have been studying farm-to-table food programs, and the culmination of that work was to visit the market and find ingredients to make their own street tacos.
While the Wednesday market has wrapped up for the season, the Jefferson County Farmers Markets will continue to operate on weekends. Saturday shoppers will have an opportunity at the Tyler Street location through Dec. 21, and the Chimacum Corner Farmstand will continue to operate Sundays through Oct. 27.
About seven different vendors set up shop Wednesday, part of the core group that Market Manager Amanda Milholland said relies on direct sales with community members.
Cara Thompson from Pan d’Amore Artisan Bakery offered breads and pastries that twinkled in the sunlight. Berry scones and danishes sat at the front of her table, while baguettes protruded out of baskets.
Jaric Jahns, a produce partner at Serendipity Farm in Quilcene, provided customers tomatoes and cucumbers.
“We grocery shop here a couple of times per week,” said Emily Allen, who attends each Saturday market and often brings her boys — Bram Genaw, 6, and Toby Genaw, 3 — to the Wednesday event.
Finnriver Farm and Midori Farms also had vegetables under tents, and Hopscotch Farm & Cannery offered canned goods on Wednesday.
BluJay Kombucha provided refreshments, and children’s activities included the Power of Produce Club (POP), which included the “two-bite challenge,” which encourages young people to try different fruits and vegetables.
“Kids do the activity, and then they get $2 for fresh fruit and vegetables at any of our markets in Jefferson County,” Milholland said.
Part of getting the younger crowd involved is to erase any stigma possibly associated with the market, she said.
“Farmers Markets have kind of had a class feeling around them, that they’re for people who can afford them,” Milholland said. “For us, it’s really important to shift the perspective so people from all income levels can enjoy the market.”
The two-bite challenge also helps introduce healthy foods to impressionable youth who are more likely to enjoy it if their peers are trying it in a fun setting, she said.
The $2 comes in the form of a small wooden token, one of several different currencies accepted, Milholland said.
“They actually have a chance to become a market shopper,” she said. “Kids don’t always have the opportunity to have their own money and to spend it on something they want.”
Funding for the POP comes from local sponsors, including Prosper Natural Health, Port Townsend Chiropractic and the Chimacum Corner Farm Stand.
One of the new programs is called VegRx, a prescription for fruits and vegetables that aims to provide low-income families a seven-month voucher for $20 per month.
Families with children 18 and younger who are insured by Apple Health are eligible, Milholland said.
The program is a partnership with Jefferson Healthcare hospital and the Food Co-op in Port Townsend, she said.
Vouchers are provided while supplies last by clinicians at Jefferson Healthcare when children visit for a medical appointment. The program had a trial season last year and is on its second run this year, Milholland said.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].