Bayview market commits to aiding community in need

The Bayview Farmers Market opens Saturday, April 26, and this year’s market includes changes that could increase access to fresh, local products.

Annie Jesperson and Nathaniel Talbot take a break from work in their greenhouse at Deep Harvest Farm in Langley.

The Bayview Farmers Market opens Saturday, April 26, and this year’s market includes changes that could increase access to fresh, local products.

For the first time, many farmers will be accepting food stamps for their products. Shoppers who use EBT food stamps get a receipt that can be submitted for another $10 to spend on additional products.

Vendor participants include Glendale Shepherd, Pam’s Place Produce, Skyroot Farm, Ebb Tide Produce, and Deep Harvest Farm. There are also many others that are in the process of getting set up to accept EBT food stamps.

Annie Jesperson, with Deep Harvest Farm, said farmers benefit with an expanding customer base and giving back to the community through offering food products to a wider range of people.

“We don’t want our market to be limited to just people with high incomes,” Jesperson said.

EBT food stamp payment should be available at the market later this spring.

Funding for the program will come from a portion of income the market earned in the 2013 season. The Bayview Farmers Market is a non-profit co-op. Money is donated to organizations, such as Hearts and Hammers, Whidbey Nourishes, and matching bucks for the EBT food stamp program.

Also new this year is the market’s planned move to the grassy field just south of Bayview Hall. It’s hoped that will increase visibility from Highway 525, and bolster parking, market President Shirlee Read said. Parking will be in the same area as in previous years, but there will also be specialized parking near the market for disabled, elderly, and load/unload vehicles.

This year’s market will see many returning vendors and some that will be selling  for the first time.

A recent addition to the market, the Outrageous Hot Dog Company, will offer four types of hot dogs: Vietnamese, Mexican, Barbecue and one dubbed the “Whidbey Island” dog. Outrageous Hot Dog Company owner John Cannon said Read and market Manager Sharon Warwick were supportive and encouraging. Working with the other vendors will be fun too, he said.

“The vendors are just such an enthusiastic, fun, hardworking, entrepreneurial group of people that have such interesting backgrounds in preparing interesting products for friends and neighbors on Whidbey,” Cannon said.

Many farmers also see benefits of working at the market. Lynn Swanson from the Glendale Shepherd Farm is in her third season of vending. Her products include pasture raised lamb, aged sheep milk cheese, yogurt, and a variety of sheep milk products. Swanson appreciates the opportunity to sell her goods locally, but she also enjoys the chance to catch up with the community.

Jesperson and her partner, Nathaniel Talbot, also utilize the market to interact with people. One-third of their profits are earned there from vegetables and seed packet sales. Their farm is certified organic.

Talbot believes that shopping local is valuable to a local economy.

“You maintain the health of the community and neighbors by supporting the business they run,” Talbot said.

According to Gerry Betz, processor and concessions representative for the market, 90 percent of produce sold is Whidbey grown. Over half a million dollars in total sales remains on the island in local pocketbooks.

“It is a farm market for the farmers,” Betz said.