Starting on June 3, Bend's Wednesday Farmers' Market once again filled the Brooks Street Alley with a cornucopia of Central Oregon's agricultural richesse. Running until October 14, Bendites can make the weekly pilgrimage to the promenade of pop-up tents overflowing with richly colored carrots, tomatoes, beets, lettuce, potatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, and take the opportunity to put face to fruit—or vice versa—with the chance to meet the farmers who grow and raise their food.
Two friendly and familiar faces at the marketplace this year are Jim and Debbie Fields from Fields Farm. Participants at the Bend Farmers' Market for nearly 17 years, the Fields are a well established presence not only at the market but in the community as well. Involved with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and U-Pick programs, the farmers' market is just one way that Fields Farm makes local, fresh, and healthy produce available to the community. And as far as "local" is concerned, it is tough to be beat Fields Farm. With the farm situated only a short distance from where the produce is sold, Jim Fields says, "If these carrots could walk, they could walk the three miles to market!"
The Fields have been working the soil of their 10-acre farm for the last 26 years, and over the course of their tenure have not only seen Bend's population grow but also the demand for farmers' markets.
"Bend has grown tremendously and those who have come here more recently expect farmers' markets. There are many environmentally-minded folks who are making a purpose of supporting us," says Fields. He adds, "And it's always nice to hear how much [people] like something you grew."
Another familiar and equally friendly face at the market again this year is Alan Rousseau of Pine Mountain Ranch. A participant at the market for over a decade, Rousseau has made Pine Mountain Ranch into a veritable artisan of sustainably-raised meats. Using what he calls "consciously uncertified organic practices" to manage the land and animals of his farm, Rousseau currently raises North American bison and Tibetan yak, as well as heritage pork, all of which are available for direct purchase at the Ranch each Friday from 11 to 3 pm, and will be sold at the market beginning next month.
Situated 10 miles from Bend, Rousseau uses Pine Mountain Ranch as a means to not only supply healthy meat to consumers, but also to educate the public.
"Our lifestyle is to educate people," Rousseau says. "We're teachers and friends to our customers and the reward of our work is to watch people get healthy." One way Rousseau has been doing this is by making the Ranch a venue for education, with hands-on opportunities, wagon rides, and even overnight stays.