Magic fills downtown Chehalis every Tuesday in June through October when the Community Farmers Market is in season. The normally quiet block of NE Boistfort Street comes to life with rows of vendors offering fresh produce, baked goods, crafts, and other specialties. Lewis County residents can peruse towering displays of vegetables and fruits, tables filled with honey, tea, eggs, sauces, cut flowers, and so much more.
This season will be the 18th year for the Community Farmers Market of Chehalis to offer shoppers locally sourced food and wares. The last two years forced creative juggling around restrictions, and the market operated at reduced capacity for much of that time. But now, operations are at full speed ahead. Armed with a new market manager and a dedicated board of directors, 2022 is shaping up to be a banner year.
In January, Manager Mandy Thompson joined the market as its sole paid staff person. Her previous experience at the Olympia Waldorf School and running her own homestead places her in an excellent position to usher the market into a successful season.
“We have a large community of small farmers and folks who are excited about growing and making beautiful food and products this year,” says Thompson. “This being my first year at CFM, I love seeing all of the enthusiasm and passion the vendors bring to their businesses and farms. I think our farmers market shoppers will see this as well.”
Some of the new vendors include local growers like Roots and Fruits Farm and Loam to Table Farm. Kathy Aust of Natural Beginnings Garden is very excited to join the lineup. “It will be nice to meet new people, talk garden-talk with seasoned gardeners, share the knowledge of microgreens that I will be selling, and just have the opportunity to share healthy and natural products with my community in a new way,” says Aust. “I do enjoy helping others learn how to start their own gardens as well, to encourage sustainable living when possible.” Market regular Sundial Gardens and Soulstice Gardens, run by the previous market manager, teamed up to form Jam Nights, which will offer fruit butters, jams, and baked items.
Of course, long-time favorites such as Piece by Piece Farm, Boistfort Valley Farm, and Constellation Farm will be back. Linda Hill is a regular at the market, usually lining up before the opening bell rings. “I have been a faithful attendee for several years because I love supporting the very hard work of local farmers,” says Hill. “The produce is consistently outstanding quality, harvested the same day and lasts much longer than store-bought. It pays to be the early bird in line at particular vendors. I always come out with my baskets overflowing.”
Other delightful returns include Wild Heart Sipping Vinegar and Hive 5 Bees. For those who want something quick to eat, Huskers will be back in late summer with their delicious Mexican street corn. Another repeat vendor, Mediterranean Flavors, offers an array of tasty hummus flavors with pita bread and addictive pita chips. Shadow’s Farm will return with newly added pizza to accompany their decadent baked goods, eggs, and veggies.
In addition to fantastic food, the market is a fun place to shop for flowers and gifts. Lonely Mountain Growers, Twin City Lavender, and Blooming Artichoke Herbary offer flowers, herbs, teas, and botanical-themed treats. Divine sauces and grilling accessories are available at Sgt. Harts BBQ Sauce. Black Dog Pottery will be rejoining the market with their hand-thrown dishware, fused glass art, and jewelry. For those in search of skincare products such as lotions, balms, and salves, look no further than 3 Feathers Emu.
The farmers market also provides a true sense of community. On any given Tuesday, customers chat with vendors and other shoppers as kids skip down the aisles while musicians serenade the crowd. A Kids Club tent offers children the chance to learn and earn tokens to make their own purchases. Finally, special programs allow seniors and low-income residents to receive funding for healthy, fresh food they might not otherwise afford.
Lewis County is lucky to have several other farmers markets. Among those are the Centralia Farmers Market, which recently moved to the Pine Street Plaza, open May through September on Fridays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Toledo Thursday Market is open Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. The Morton Farmers Market runs Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
June 7 is the first market of the season in Chehalis, with special treats scheduled. Mark your calendars!
Community Farmers Market of Chehalis
NE Boistfort Street, between Pacific and Market in Downtown Chehalis
Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. October through June