It’s not hard to see why the Community Farmers Market in Chehalis is treasured by Lewis County. In its 12th season, the market boasts fresh, local food and farmers who are always willing to share their stories and their smiles.

awesome rvLewis County has traditionally been an agricultural community and there was an apparent need for a venue for smaller farms. The market has grown considerably and now has 22 vendors filling Boistforst Street with seasonal foods, artisan breads, and handcrafted items.

Rachael Reiton, market manager, and Mokey Skinner, project coordinator, are excited for what this new season is bringing. “We’ve got a lot of new vendors and two new hot food vendors, Zola’s Mongolian Dumplings and Blue Ninja Dogs. We’ve started the Kids Club and Kreative Kettlecorn is back!”

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Mokey Skinner of Coffee Creek Community Gardens shares her produce and her smile at Community Farmers Market in Chehalis. Photo credit: Sarah Zenger.

Rachel and Mokey, along with members of the board, have been ramping up fundraising (raising a record total at this year’s Family and Friends of the Market event earlier this month), investing in more advertising, and reaching more through social media.

It’s evident that their efforts are working. More than 70 kids came out to register for Kids Club, also known as Power of Produce (PoP), on its first day. (Read more about Kids Club in this article.) “We’re partnering with volunteers from different businesses in the community and are really excited for this new program,” Mokey said.

And it really is all about the community. Farmers from Lewis County are given first priority making up about 85% of the vendors, while others are from neighboring counties. “A lot of it for me,” says Mokey, “is helping to create and nurture a thriving local community. In Lewis County, going to the market is what you do. It’s about keeping people in touch. We all know that if money leaves our community, it’s not necessarily coming back. Having a strong space to come and sell and buy is good for the community and the local economy.”

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More than 85% of the vendors at the Community Farmers Market are local farmers. Photo courtesy: Community Farmers Market.

“My favorite thing about being a part of this market,” says Rachel, “are the familiar faces I get to see each week. There is so much support from the community.”

And it’s not just the vendors and the economy that benefit from the market, clearly it couldn’t exist without the need for it. “What I really like is the variety,” said market regular Vera Welch. “You’ve got a very diverse group of people selling an abundance of delicious local foods. The farmers are always willing to tell you about their products; they’re really easy to talk to. Plus it’s a great place for families and kids.”

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Lewis County residents enjoy shopping for local produce while at the Community Farmers Market. Photo courtesy: Community Farmers Market.

Kalama Sourdough Bakery is in their third full year at the market. Run by Robert Ahrens (who started baking when he was 13 as part of a homeschool project), says that part of what he loves about selling here is getting to see his customers. “I really get to be a part of the community when I’m here. Most of my business is return customers and it’s great to get to see who’s buying our products.” Kalama Sourdough Bakery produces naturally fermented, handmade sourdough breads and is a definite. Plus, they’re usually giving out free samples.

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Entertainers greet kids at the Community Farmers Market. Photo courtesy: Community Farmers Market.

Some of the new vendors at the market this year include the Blooming Artichoke Herbary, Piece by Piece Farm, and Uncle Jim’s Smokehouse. This is also the first year Scratch and Peck Feed is being sold by Coffee Creek Community and Gardens.

From fresh carrots to emu oil, from organic garlic to upcycled bags, the Community Farmers Market is a growing and thriving meeting place for quality goods and strong connections. It’s open every Tuesday, rain or shine, until October 25 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “It’s a small town vibe and we’re personal about everything we do, even buying veggies!”

Visit the Community Farmers Market website to find out more.

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