One group is encouraging people to eat locally this Memorial Day weekend with Whidbey Island Grown Weekend.
The Whidbey Island Grown Cooperative supports farmers and small businesses by promoting locally sourced products through events like the one this weekend, and with its online ordering platform called the Food Hub.
Whidbey Island Grown usually hosts the weekend event later in the summer after harvest season, but organizer Shannon Bly said the group wanted to have more time to celebrate.
“It’s more about showcasing local food and celebrating that we’re about to have a ton of locally grown produce soon,” Bly said.
She encouraged people to shop the island’s farm stands, farmers markets and restaurants to find local products.
The co-op also has an option for businesses to buy local produce through the Food Hub. Bly said it’s a great way to support local farmers in one streamlined and consolidated place.
The group’s website has links to guides of what crops are growing and ready to eat, and where to find Whidbey’s farm stands and farmers markets. There are also interviews with farmers and a behind-the-scenes look at local farms.
Mark and Melissa Stewart own One Willow Farm and sell chicken, chicken eggs and turkeys. They started their farm a year ago during the coronavirus pandemic, although they come from a long line of farmers.
Mark Stewart said events like these are helpful to raise awareness about local growers.
“I think there’s a big shift in getting to know where food comes from,” Stewart said of the pandemic’s effects on the national food system. “This helps to promote that and feature what is all being done here on the island by all the producers here.”
Stewart said his farm’s eggs can be found at Whidbey Farm and Market, which is just down the road from his 1.5-acre farm. He also leases grazing space at the Greenbank Farm for his chickens.
Bly said she hopes the weekend will help people realize the variety of products they can find on the island.
“It’s going to be a beautiful holiday weekend — the world is opening up. Let’s go out and eat some good local food.”