Downtown market to sprout this weekend

Ashland's first Saturday Rogue Valley Growers Crafters Market opens this weekend and organizers said they were looking forward to seeing all the new faces.

Markets are hosted on weekdays in Ashland and Medford. The new Saturday market will run from 9 a.m. to — p.m. on a portion of the existing First Place subdivision's parking lot, across from the post office on First Street.

Tracy Harding, who manages the Saturday market, said she's thrilled to provide a venue to those who couldn't get to the Tuesday market.

"I just met a woman the other day who said she takes one day off of work a month so she can attend the Tuesday market," she said. "People won't have to do that anymore."

Chris Jagger of Blue Fox Farm, one of the vendors at the Saturday market who also sells at the Armory, said he grows 40 to 45 different kinds of vegetables on six acres in the Applegate Valley.

He said he'll be curious to see if there will be a dip in sales at the Tuesday market.

"At the Tuesday market, we have our regulars that we see every week," he said. "But there's been a huge demographic of people who can't get to that market because it's on a weekday. So there could be a whole bunch of new people we haven't even met."

Harding said Saturday's market will be a third of the size of Tuesday's market, which usually has about 75 vendors.

"But customers will find similar products, like produce, goat's milk, some crafts and maybe plants," she said. "There will be variety there."

Ashlanders Art Bullock, Philip Lang and Colin Swales all expressed concerns about parking congestion when the Planning Commission considered granting a conditional use permit for the Saturday market. But none of the three appealed the commission's June approval or responded to the Tidings' request for interviews.

"I didn't anticipate any of them appealing," said Harding. "They all expressed support for the market, just concern for the location."

Harding said she's passionate about people reducing their single occupant vehicle miles and hopes that Ashlanders will walk or bike to the market.

Harding said she also hopes the market won't produce much waste and encouraged customers to bring their own bags and baskets.

She also teamed up with Key of C coffee shop on Lithia Way across from the market, which is offering 15 cents off drinks to people who bring their own coffee cups.

"Tracy is an avid recycler," said coffee shop owner Ardyce Hutmacher. "And I whole-heartedly agree with people cutting down on the waste they create. That's why I'm offering the discount."

The Saturday farmers market is slated to run every weekend through Nov. 20.

Reach reporter at 482-3456 ext. 226 or .

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