April showers bring May flowers, but sporadic patches of sunshine, warmth and blue sky remind us that the “rainy season” in Oregon will soon be drawing to a close – and that means more outdoor community gatherings, special events, and public markets!
Here in Eugene, the Saturday Market has kicked off its 43rd season in the streets of downtown, providing an excellent outlet for goods created by local artists and craftspeople, and local farmers can now be found selling their produce and foodstuffs at the nearby Lane County Farmers’ Market, where the selection of edibles and plants will only continue to get better as summer approaches.
The Eugene Producers Market, early ancestor of the Lane County Farmers’ Market, began in 1915 and was the first official public market in the Eugene area. Several Oregon cities and towns have a history of similar public markets, and today there are at least 120 farmers’ markets across the state (Landis).
Not only do today’s public markets provide a good reason to mingle with others and enjoy the outdoors, they also serve to continue the long Oregon tradition of promoting locally-made goods and farmers’ markets. The following clip from Jacksonville’s Oregon Sentinel, one of our state’s earliest newspapers, reveals that buying local has been a priority for Oregon residents since as early as 1859:
Support for farmers’ markets in the early 20th century can be traced through Oregon’s historic newspapers, from Bend:
to Klamath Falls:
as well as statewide:
Anyone who has ventured out to one of these markets or bought produce directly from an Oregon farm or orchard knows that we arguably have the best tasting strawberries, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, apples, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and most definitely cherries, on earth…and the list goes on!
In addition to the Farmers’ Market and Saturday Market, local “Art Walks” will become increasingly popular as the weather improves and more people opt to spend time outside mingling with the community. The feeling that comes from buying locally grown and locally crafted goods, supporting your neighbors and socializing with the people who live in your town, is age-old and unmatched by things like online shopping and fast food, which, while convenient at times, often neglect communal well-being.
Among the many Oregon-made products that could be found for sale 100 years ago are things like:
just to name a few. After all…
…so we might as well responsibly enjoy the wealth of the land and the talents of the people that Oregon hosts, and help our neighbors and communities in the process!
Wherever you happen to reside, let the beautiful spring and upcoming summer weather persuade you to venture outside, visit your local farmers’ market or art walks, and other events where you can buy local and support your community!
Research more about the history of public markets and goods made in Oregon by browsing and searching through Historic Oregon Newspapers, or learn more about other states’ farmers’ market histories and local products through a keyword search in Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.
Landis, Rebecca. “Farmers’ Markets.” The Oregon Encyclopedia. Oregon Encyclopedia – Oregon History and Culture. Portland State University, 2008-2012. < http://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/entry/view/farmers_markets/ >