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Tilth Market opens May 5 with Cinco de Mayo theme

"One of the many vendors at the Tilth Market is Stonefield Farm, located in Clinton. The flower and vegetable farm uses an organic method of intense raised bed gardening to produce its masses of flowers, which are sold in bunches during the market season. South Whidbey Tilth Farmers MarketOpen every Saturday through October, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a mid-week market starting in late June, from 4 to 7 p.m. The market is located at the corner of Thompson Road and Highway 525. For more information and a calendar of events visit www.swhidbey-tilth-farmers-market.bigstep.com/, or contact Joyce LaGow, market manager, at 360.579.1871 or by e-mail at joyce @whidbey.com.The South Whidbey Tilth Farmers Market will open its second season on its own land at the corner of Thompson Road and Highway 525 on Saturday, May 5, with a festive and colorful Cinco de Mayo celebration. Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday, commemorates the 1862 battle in which 4,000 Mexican soldiers defeated an invading French-led army twice its size. At the Tilth market, visitors can enjoy Mexican music, hot Mexican food, and other delicacies while shopping for fresh vegetables and fruit as well as hand-crafted articles for home and garden. A special treat awaits kids, who will have two opportunities at smashing a piñata, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. This year's greatly expanded market continues to be an old-fashioned, family-oriented market. Its site now includes several new structures, including a welcome sign and scarecrow on the highway.On the large grassy courtyard, picnic tables and a kids activity center will be set up. Parking for customers will be accessible and convenient, especially for the handicapped. Despite its growth and expansion, the Tilth Farmers Market retains its essential character, notes market manager Joyce LeGow. Its core is growers and producers of farm and farm-related products. We are opening with more than twice as many vendors as we had last year on opening day, she said. My intent is to have a European/South American-style open air market. And the vendors love it. Everyone's getting into the act and dressing up their booths.On opening day and other market days, shoppers will find island-grown spinach, lettuce, leeks, bok choy, green onions, rhubarb, fresh-sprouted alfalfa, broccoli, radishes, salad mixes and other produce from local farmers and growers. Also available will be tomato starts, year-old artichoke plants, many types of lettuce and salad green starts, as well as aloe-vera plants and field-grown herbs. Those in search of native plants and shrubs, fresh-cut flowers and bouquets, will have a wide selection to choose from as growers bring in their spring stock. In true old-fashioned market style, the presence of animals will also be a part of the scene. Two animal recruits visiting Saturdays are a pair of baby llamas named Daisy and Nutmeg. Heritage livestock, animal breeds that have been in the country since its founding, will be presented by Colonial Critters, a 4-H Club that specializes in preserving livestock heritage. And since no market is complete without home-cooked food, there will be soups and salads, freshly baked pies, cookies, Irish soda bread and artisan breads, including doggie bones baked from organic grains.Home-based crafts have always been a country tradition. Among the artisans presenting their wares are makers of homemade shampoos, hand and body wash, bath salts, pottery, iron articles, stained glass, hand-crafted paper, fabric, and yarn spun from llama wool and llama roving - the final, cleaned product from which the thread is spun.A new feature of the Tilth Farmers Market is the Community Produce Table, where backyard gardeners are welcome to sell their excess produce --whether it be a dozen cucumbers or beans that are more than the household can handle --for just the standard eight percent commission. A summer-long lineup of Tilth Market activities for all ages is being scheduled every Saturday through October: May 12 is Kite-Day with the Kite Club. Maxwelton Salmon Adventure, the crucial player in restoring salmon to Maxwelton Creek, will help kids make salmon puppets on May 19 and June 2. Colonial Critters will have their livestock and educational materials on June 16 and July 21. On July 28, a group of local spinners will demonstrate their skills. Also planned are demonstrations on blacksmithing and soap-making. Tilth is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable agriculture and sound environmental policies. Other community-based organizations with similar ideals are also part of the Tilth Farmers Market. Groups such as FETCH, the volunteer organization that operates off-leash dog areas; Sister Island Project; and others who share the Tilth outlook on community development will have booths at the market giving information about what's happening in the community and how anyone can get involved.Community gardening space availableSouth Whidbey Tilth has begun to establish a land-based center at its Thompson Road site to promote organic sustainable agriculture. In addition to the farmers market is a greenhouse sponsored by the Whidbey Environmental Action Network (WEAN) to grow native prairie plants for restoration work; a continuation of a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education project to promote heirloom fruits and vegetables; and a new SARE grant project to promote the value of native forest understory plants.There is also some community organic gardening space available to interested South Whidbey residents. If you would like to grow vegetables for your home use this year, but you don't have enough sunlight, fenced land, access to soil amendments, water, garden tools at home, call Michael Seraphinoff at 360-678-4168 for information. "

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