It’s where to be through the spring and summer months.
And when the weekend rolls around, what better place to take care of the shopping than outside at the local farmers markets to buy farm fresh produce and local goods?
The farmers market season kicks off in Bayview next weekend on South Whidbey and vendors are gearing up to make it a most auspicious beginning to the warmer months.
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there is one or another market to catch on the South End.
Saturdays are for Bayview babies.
Opening day at the Bayview Farmers’ Market is 10 a.m. Saturday, April 28 at Bayview Corner and continues until 2 p.m. every Saturday through October.
Market board president Shirlee Read said this rain or shine market will feature a variety of booths selling local produce, baked goods, hot foods, crafts and artwork, weekly music and chef demos. Read herself serves up her Kitchen Door homemade pies, both savory and sweet at the market in the famous convivial atmosphere that attracts both locals and visitors on Whidbey Island.
“It has become ‘the’ place to be on Saturdays on the South End,” Read said.
Locals may have already caught a glimpse of local artist Anne Belov’s winning poster for the 2012 market, which will be available for purchase and signing by the artist on opening day. Starting Memorial Day through Labor Day, shoppers will have the opportunity to buy raffle tickets to win the framed original art piece by Belov used in the poster.
Also available this year are snazzy market shopping bags with the market logo and, in a bit of welcome news, the well-intentioned but problematic composting toilets at Bayview Corner are being replaced by flush toilets.
“Bayview Farmers Market supports up to 70 vendors and has a tangible economic impact on the South End during its six-month season,” Read said.
“For the vendors it offers a way to make a living locally doing what they love and for the customers it means access to fresh locally-grown produce, really good baked stuff and lots of other goodies without going off-island.”
At the market, she said, social and business connections are made, young vendors have the opportunity to learn how to market and sell through the “kid and card table” program, and there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
“On behalf of the board, I invite people of all ages to enjoy the market experience every Saturday this year!” Read added.
If one happens to miss the chance to shop outside on Saturday, there’s always Sunday.
Just a stone’s throw up the road from Bayview Corner is the South Whidbey Tilth Market, which begins its 41st season at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 29 and continues through 2 p.m. every Sunday, through Oct. 27.
Look for the scarecrow at Thompson Road and Highway 525 for Tilth, which is a family-friendly kind of place situated on a sprawling lush meadow with picnic tables, live music and children’s activities including a sandbox, assorted toys and tricycles for the kids to enjoy.
This market is a community gathering place for customers to meet and know their local farmers and crafters, where fresh, local, seasonal produce is prominently featured. The vendors are certified organic growers or use organic or sustainable growing methods. Along with food products, such as local pies, jams, doggie biscuits and breads, crafters feature needle crafts, hand-spun yarns of sheep and alpaca fiber, knitted and felted goods, rustic cedar furniture and planters, as well as fine art and photographs.
Kym Saephan of Whidbey Rice, Kim McJury “The Leftover Queen,” and other hot food vendors will offer delicious hot foods to eat in or take out. Assorted hot and cold beverages featuring organic Café Mam coffee will be available in the Laughing Cat Beverage Bar to benefit Tilth, along with fresh coffee beans by the bag.
Early customers may enjoy a hot cup of coffee by the pavilion porch until the bell rings at 11 a.m. to open the market and well-behaved dogs on leash are welcome.
The South Whidbey Tilth Farmers’ Market accepts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Washington State Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which begins in summer.
Vendors are still welcome to join the Tilth market. Visit www.south whidbeytilth.org/market to find out more or call market manager Lynae Slinden at 341-4456.
Shoppers will be happy to hear that Fridays are also an option.
The newest best bet on the block is the Second Street Market in downtown Langley, which happens from 3 to 7 p.m. every Friday. This is more of a strictly summer market which starts June 1 and goes through Sept. 21.
“Our small farmers, artisans, cheese makers and honey collectors are the bones of this market, which began last summer,” said this year’s market manager Fran Abel.
“In a survey of last summer’s market, visitors used descriptive words like ‘cool, fun, awesome, super, fantastic, wonderful and great,’” she said.
But, the market builders, who are now supported by the new Langley Main Street Association and the Port of South Whidbey, didn’t want to start the market just for fun, Abel said, but because they believe strongly in strengthening the community while stimulating the economy.
“Our dream was, and continues to be, to turn Langley into the place to be on Friday night,” Abel said.
Abel said the hope is that more shops will stay open until 7 p.m. and that the streets will be bursting with people hanging out, shopping, eating and enjoying all the benefits of downtown Langley on Friday nights.