Tilth Farmers Market opens for business this weekend in Freeland

Michael Seraphinoff and Landon Primrose, managers of the Tilth Farmers Market, display their produce during last year’s season.   - Photo courtesy of South Whidbey Tilth
Michael Seraphinoff and Landon Primrose, managers of the Tilth Farmers Market, display their produce during last year’s season.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of South Whidbey Tilth

One of South Whidbey’s oldest farmers markets returns to the fold today with its unique variety of sociable agribusiness.

“We’re hoping for nice weather, and that a lot of people will come and join us,” said Michael Seraphinoff of Greenbank, co-manager of South Whidbey Tilth.

“We’re really excited for this year,” said Landon Primrose, 22, of Langley, the other Tilth co-manager. “It’s a great way to get local members, particularly farmers, really involved in their community.”

The Tilth market joins the Bayview market, which opened its season this past Saturday, and the Greenbank farmers market, which opens this Sunday.

“We had a great crowd,” said Sharon Warwick, Bayview Farmers Market manager. “Everybody was happy to have the market back.”

The annual Tilth Farmers Market opens the new season from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2 at its 11-acre property along Highway 525 at Thompson Road, between Bayview and Freeland.

There will be the usual food, plant and craft vendors; music; speakers and activities; and in honor of the season, some maypole dancing, Seraphinoff said.

This week’s opening is leading up to a big splash the following Saturday, in honor of Mother’s Day, he said.

The local chapter of Tilth has been promoting sustainable farming with a social emphasis since 1982, when about 20 people gathered to join a loose association of nonprofit Tilth chapters throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The group now has about 200 members, from absentee property owners who visit on weekends to small-scale farmers who actually earn a living with the help of Tilth, Seraphinoff said.

The group bought the property about 10 years ago, and has gradually expanded its activities to promote wise use of land and resources, he said.

It offers classes; workshops; garden plots; forest, plant and trail restoration; wildlife habitat improvement; and a demonstration of how to manage plants along a highway without herbicides.

It also works closely with Greenbank Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program.

But its most visible component is the farmers market, where vendors offer their weekly bounty for sale from booths, while musicians play and crafts people demonstrate their skills.

“We try to find ways to make it more than just a place were economic transactions occur,” Seraphinoff said. “It’s a place where ideas are exchanged.”

Today, Linda Good and friends will play music while visitors dance around a maypole. At 12:30 p.m., Anza Muenchow of the Community Supported Agriculture program will discuss CSA and how people can get involved.

On Saturday, May 9, the Tilth’s grand opening will feature plant sales by the South Whidbey medical support group Friends of Friends and the nonprofit Native Plant Stewards, along with the first plant clinic of the season conducted by the Master Gardeners of WSU Extension of Island County.

Seraphinoff, 62, a semi-retired English teacher, has been involved with the local Tilth chapter since its inception.

“I think it’s important to have a balance in life,” he said, “Some hands-on gardening and some bookish brainwork.”

The Tilth market runs each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Oct. 31. A Wednesday evening market will be offered from 4 to 7 p.m. each week from July 1 through Sept. 2.

At the Bayview Farmers Market, about 40 vendors participated in the opening weekend, which featured hot local food, and crafts from local artisans, Warwick said. As the weather warms, more produce, including berries, will be available each week, she said.

The market runs each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through October at Bayview Corner, on Bayview Road just off Highway 525.

Warwick said six new farmers are participating at Bayview, and more venders are expected this month as the weather warms. She said last week’s market grossed about $8,000.

“We’re looking forward to a fantastic year,” Warwick said.

A list of all vendors and more information about the Bayview Farmers Market can be found at its Web site;Click here.

Meanwhile, Greenbank Farm opens its Sunday farmers market this week, featuring local produce, specialty food products and original arts and crafts. For information, Click here.

There’s also a Master Gardeners clinic each Sunday. For information, Click here.

Greenbank Farm is at Highway 525 and Wonn Road in Greenbank.

Larry Lowary of Clinton, a regular vendor at the Bayview Farmers Market, said the local markets are a big deal on the island.

“If things continue this year as they did in 2008, I’d imagine the combined sales will top the million-dollar mark, and that’s pretty impressive,” he said.

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