As the coolness succumbs to the warmer days of spring, the Pendleton Farmers’ Market will begin its 2012 season. The market opens Friday from 4 p.m. until dusk in the 300 block of South Main Street. It runs each Friday through mid-October.

Offering a diverse representation of the region’s edible and entrepreneurial offerings, the market is open to additional vendors. For more information, contact 541-969-9466, pendletonfarmersmarket@gmail.com, go to www.pendletonfarmersmarket.net or search Pendleton Farmers Market on Facebook.

In addition to the freshest, high quality food direct from the farm to consumers, the Pendleton market provides musical entertainment, an opportunity to sample new foods and new recipes, hands-on activities such as cooking demonstrations and children’s activities.

“The steady increase in farmers’ markets operating around the country in the last ten years reflects a strong and growing interest in the culinary, social, monetary and public health benefits of markets,” said Karen Wagner, the market’s board president.

The markets, she said, add value to local economies, create vibrant community gathering places and bring diverse groups of people together.

“They offer a healthy, local alternative to the national and anonymous industrial food system,” Wagner added.

The Pendleton Farmers’ Market’s 2012 management team includes Market Manager Cheryl Rolstad and Market Assistant Karen Willis.

“Each year the market seems to deepen its connections and service to the farmers, crafters and the community — our job is to continue that trend,” Wagner said.

Those who attend the market are encouraged to bring reusable bags and containers with them on market days. In addition, having small bills or a debit card helps to streamline purchases. Pendleton is currently one of only three markets in the eastern region authorized to accept debit cards, SNAP Oregon Trail, senior and WIC Farm Direct Nutrition Program vouchers and WIC Fruit and Veggie Vouchers.

Pendleton Farmers Market also will participate in the “Smart Shoppers” program, which provides extra incentive options for SNAP and WIC nutrition programs during monthly themed events. The entire community is invited to participate in those special events during the third week of each month.

With summer just around the corner, the Oregon Farmers’ Markets Association invites everyone to experience local foods at more than 120 member farmers’ markets across the state. A market directory is available at www.oregongarmersmarkets.org.

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