Head to Farmer's Market

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It's May and warm weather activities are getting started all over the area. Putting a long winter aside, there's the promise of family fun at the Walla Walla Valley Farmers Market. The market opens for its new season May 1 and will run Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. through October 30.

Come out and make a day of it! Enjoy the sights and sounds of the market: You've got the produce, the outdoor concert and the opportunity for the family to have some fun together. Take the grandkids and enjoy.

You can indulge your senses with food, art, soap, music and just about everything else. Market Executive Director Aimee McGuire said the upcoming season is "Looking good. We've got some new vendors and some new farm vendors." McGuire said there will be the traditional concerts each day, the core group of vendors and some new vendors as well. According to McGuire, the market's focus is still on farm vendors providing quality produce fresh from the farm to families. People may be eating more vegetables for health and economic reasons.

Antoinette La Rondelle has been cooking up her Greek and Lebanese food at the market for about 12 or 13 years. She has fun every year and enjoys her conversations with customers and other vendors. At the market, socializing is part of the fun.

Another long term market vendor is Midnight Oil Soap owned by "Soap Goddess" Kim Hedine. She has a very loyal clientele, having also been at the market for 13 years. "I love the Farmers Market," she said. "The people that come to it are really supportive and positive." Sometimes the hot summer weather is a challenge but her customers are so much fun, she keeps coming back.

She enjoys constantly creating new soaps with more wonderful ingredients.

Her soap kitchen at home is being remodeled and rearranged for greater efficiency.

"I juiced some carrots from my garden and I just added a huge amount of this carrot juice to the soap and it turned out wonderful," she said.

Making these products for the market is her way of combining creativity and healing. She just created a soap honoring last spring's amazing thunderstorms. Collected rain water, used within 24 hours, retains the energy of the thunderstorm, Hedine said. She also has new projects lined up. She wants to extract energy from flowers and add that to soap. After that, she wants to add the magic of the first snowfall into a new soap this coming winter.

Mary Jane Fehrenbacher raises sheep for wool and meat, so she offers USDA lamb by the cut, as well as yarn and items made from wool such as shawls and scarves. According to Fehrenbacher, there are many hand spinners looking for clean wool to get their projects started.

Author, photographer and market artisan Jim Willis sells notecards, magnets as well as matted prints and framed prints by special order. He agreed with the other vendors that the market is an enjoyable social atmosphere as well as a commercial venture.

These are just a few of the offerings at the Farmers Market this year as the season gets started.

The Walla Walla Valley Farmers Market operates at Crawford Park at Fourth Avenue and Main Street, on weekends May 1 through October 30

For more information call 509-520-3647.

New farmer's market

A new farmers market is slated to start in Milton-Freewater on Wednesdays from June 1-September 28 at 4 p.m. It will be located at 1221 E. Main St., the former location of Oregon First Community Credit Union. To find out more or become a part of this new venture call 541-561-0731.

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