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How Great Coastal Gale spawned an annual market

Good eating every Tuesday
By Nancy McCarthy

The Daily Astorian

Published on August 24, 2018 12:14PM

A & B Farms of Molalla offers berries throughout the summer. One of 29 vendors, the farm has been at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market since the beginning.

Nancy McCarthy

A & B Farms of Molalla offers berries throughout the summer. One of 29 vendors, the farm has been at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market since the beginning.

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Once banned from the Cannon Beach Farmers Market due to concerns about competition with local businesses, cut flowers are among the most popular items purchased at the market.

Nancy McCarthy

Once banned from the Cannon Beach Farmers Market due to concerns about competition with local businesses, cut flowers are among the most popular items purchased at the market.

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Steven Sinkler, owner of The Wine Shack, pours out one of the store’s premier labels, Puffin Wine.

Nancy McCarthy

Steven Sinkler, owner of The Wine Shack, pours out one of the store’s premier labels, Puffin Wine.

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Jeff Wong, founder of Community Supported Fisheries in Garibaldi, prepares fish and sausages at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market.

Nancy McCarthy

Jeff Wong, founder of Community Supported Fisheries in Garibaldi, prepares fish and sausages at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market.

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Dave Quinton, left, and Brad Griswold play music during the Cannon Beach Farmers Market. Support for the musicians comes partly from the city of Cannon Beach and from donations by local businesses and individuals.

Nancy McCarthy

Dave Quinton, left, and Brad Griswold play music during the Cannon Beach Farmers Market. Support for the musicians comes partly from the city of Cannon Beach and from donations by local businesses and individuals.

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Produce is available from three vendors, including Veggie Girls, at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market.

Nancy McCarthy photo

Produce is available from three vendors, including Veggie Girls, at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market.

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Roasted, flavored nuts are offered for sale at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market.

Nancy McCarthy photo

Roasted, flavored nuts are offered for sale at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market.

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New to the Cannon Beach Farmers Market, Blackberry Bog Farms brings produce, eggs and free-range chickens to the market.

Nancy McCarthy photo

New to the Cannon Beach Farmers Market, Blackberry Bog Farms brings produce, eggs and free-range chickens to the market.

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Visitors throng to the farmers market, which offers a variety of food and beverages. At the information booth, they can buy market souvenirs, ask questions about Cannon Beach and pick up brochures about local birds, hiking trails, day trips and state parks.

Nancy McCarthy photo

Visitors throng to the farmers market, which offers a variety of food and beverages. At the information booth, they can buy market souvenirs, ask questions about Cannon Beach and pick up brochures about local birds, hiking trails, day trips and state parks.

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Locals and visitors visit the Cannon Beach Farmers Market on Tuesdays from mid-June until the end of September. This is the market’s 10th anniversary.

Nancy McCarthy photo

Locals and visitors visit the Cannon Beach Farmers Market on Tuesdays from mid-June until the end of September. This is the market’s 10th anniversary.

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Dogs, as well as people, are welcome at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market.

Nancy McCarthy photo

Dogs, as well as people, are welcome at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market.

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Every Tuesday for the past 10 summers, the City Hall parking lot in Cannon Beach turns into a farmers market.

Instead of cars parked in the spaces, there are at least 25 booths filled with produce from local farms, berries, mushrooms, honey, organic meats, wine, peaches and lots of other homegrown goodies.

Musicians fill the air with songs as chefs prepare fish tacos, sausages, Ramen bowls or Kobe beef burgers.

Cannon Beach locals and tourists visit regularly — one day the counters at the market’s entrances clicked off 2,331 visitors. They come from all over the U.S. and foreign countries; some from Australia and Scotland stopped by the market’s information booth recently.

“It’s a great market,” said Jackie Johnson, of Maple Valley, Washington. Johnson, who visited the market for the first time last year, called this year to make sure it was still going.

“You’ve got some good vendors with good-quality products; that’s what I like about it,” Johnson said. “You’ve got some interesting things, some different things. We have a lot of (farmers) markets, but I haven’t seen the variety and the quality of the products.”


Blowing into town


You might say that a hurricane launched the market.

Kristin Frost Albrecht, the market’s first manager, recalled how the Great Coastal Gale in December 2007 devastated the North Coast but alerted residents to the area’s weaknesses, including the lack of locally produced food.

“That event brought to light our susceptibility to natural disasters and our region’s limited food security, should we be cut off from major distribution routes,” recalled Frost Albrecht in an email. She now manages a food bank in Hawaii. “In particular, Cannon Beach residents had limited access to fresh produce.”


A big deal


But several challenges arose, including finding local farmers.

“We discovered that, out of Oregon’s 36 counties, Clatsop County was the 35th in terms of agricultural production,” Frost Albrecht wrote. “Of the farmers who were in the North Coast region, nearly all were age 65 or older, with many considering retirement and leaving farming.”

However, Bob Neroni and his wife, Lenore Emery, had a solution for that. As operators of the EVOO Cooking School, they also had difficulty obtaining local produce. They asked then-City Manager Rich Mays — who had never been to a farmers market before — if a market could be started. They talked to other chefs about collaborating on purchases, too.

“Because we were so small, it was really difficult for farms to come and deliver, say, a case of tomatoes,” Neroni recalled. “But with the idea of the market, and at the same time the chef’s collaborative … one case turned into 20 cases. That was worth their while coming.”

There were other challenges, too: finding a location; working around city ordinances prohibiting outdoor merchandising; dealing with local merchants’ concerns about competition; and securing financial support.

After the Cannon Beach City Council agreed to sponsor the market and to allow it on the City Hall parking lot, a farmers market committee got to work.

“There was a lot of effort by the committee to try to structure what kind of farmers market we wanted and what the rules were,” said Rainmar Bartl, who, as city planning director, guided the group through the web of city ordinances affecting the market. “That was a big deal.”


The city’s ‘living room’


The committee had high expectations.

“We wanted this to be a serious food market with a “gold standard,” with the vendors as “growers/sellers,” Frost Albrecht said. “In vetting our vendors, we visited every farm, as well as artisan producers to make sure they were the ones growing, harvesting and/or foraging their products.”

Vendor Anne Berlinger, of Gales Meadow Farms in Forest Grove, appreciates the policy.

“I like it that Cannon Beach is what you see is what is grown at the vendor’s farm; that’s really important,” said Berlinger, who has been with the market since it started.

The committee decided early on not to allow crafts to avoid competing with local merchants who might carry similar items.

The “no competition” rule was so strict that cut flowers were banned the first year because some local businesses carried cut flowers. The “cut flower” controversy heated up until Daryl “Hank” Johnson resigned from his membership on the city’s design review board in protest of the ban. He later rejoined the board, however.

The “food only” policy sets Cannon Beach apart, said market manager Philomena Lloyd, who works 19 hours a week organizing the market.

“It’s one of the things that makes our market unique in the whole North Coast area. It’s kind of an identifying thing, and I think our food vendors appreciate it,” Lloyd said.

Ten years later, the market is thriving with 29 vendors from Oregon and southern Washington.

“The market became Cannon Beach’s ‘living room’ — a place where you were going to be sure to see your friends, neighbors, family every week — and buy fresh, local, seasonal food,” Frost Albrecht said. “While the food was the reason, what became apparent was that the market was all about community.”

INFO BOX

Cannon Beach Farmers Market, 10th anniversary

When: 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sept. 27

Where: City Hall parking lot, midtown

Number of vendors: 29, plus community booths

Number of volunteers assisting the market: 24

Items for sale: They include produce, honey, wine, cheese, salad dressings, baked goods, organic meats, cured meats, candy, flavored nuts, hummus, mushrooms, peaches, cranberry goods, coffee, tea, olive oils, cut flowers

City-sponsored market: The city of Cannon Beach budgeted $40,853 for the market this year. When it started, Lake Oswego was the only other Oregon city to sponsor a farmers market.

“Probably the major one (key to success) was the city’s financial support,” said former Planning Director Rainmar Bartl. “There were other farmers markets at that time that were struggling, but they didn’t have any financial support. Really, the city stepping up with financial support was critical. It took a lot of stress out of everything.”















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