EDITORIAL | Whidbey's outdoor markets continue to grow

Shopping outdoors has been a growing trend on South Whidbey ever since South Whidbey Tilth started the first farmers market 42 years ago.

Tilth has moved a few times, finally finding a permanent home at the corner of Thompson Road and Highway 525. It also moved to Sunday, giving it a day without competition from other markets. It opens tomorrow. It still has a sense of earthiness, thanks in part to the compost tea, that others can’t match. And who else would open its market with a dance around the May pole?

The first vegetables of spring are always enjoyable to peruse. Rhubarb is of particular interest, looking like red celery of questionable cooking character. Cooks have solved the problem by coming up with rhubarb pie, proving the adage that if you put enough sugar in it, anything tastes good.

Today is the Bayview Farmers Market, starting its 11th year behind the Bayview Cash Store. It’s more upscale but with plenty of home-grown, organic food to go with the baked goods, jewelry and fashions.

Both our farmers markets are excellent places to hang out, learn from the friendly farmers and meet friends. The increasing number of people growing and sharing their own food is one of the bright spots of South Whidbey’s society and commerce in recent decades. Old farm skills on the verge of extinction have come to life. We we can watch sheep shearing, weaving, goat milking and other processes. It’s good for the kids to see from whence their food and fiber really comes.

Wait just a little longer and a couple of newer outdoor markets will be available.

The Langley Second Street Market opens June 1, shutting down one of the city’s two main drags so visitors can stop and smell the roses, vegetables and art. It’s another outlet for our creators and farmers and its second year will be better than the first.

The Clinton Thursday Market opens July 11. It’s inaugural year in 2012 was successful with a mix of food dealers and local merchants selling their wares. The number of awnings will likely increase this year as it’s nicely located on a grassy spot along the highway. It gives ferry people a place to stop and locals a place to get together. Definitely worthwhile.

All these markets make South Whidbey a happier, more prosperous place to live. Organizers work long, thankless hours to make them happen and deserve the appreciation and support of the community.


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