Christianson’s new farmers market opening
The Skagit Valley Farmers Market at Christianson’s Nursery makes its debut May 30 on a site once central to the pea harvest on the Skagit Flats. The market will be open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. most Sundays through the summer.
The new kid-and-dog-friendly market will feature a nice mix of produce and crafts, says manager Kathryn Shiohira, who just happens to be a food safety specialist and a driver for the Puget Sound Food Hub right next door.
“The cool thing is these farmers are already set up and ready to go because to be part of the Food Hub you must have your ducks in a row,” she said. The new market will take place around the Vinery, a new event space that will also be open for viewing on the 30th.
“When we renovated the building, we had a farmers market in mind,” said owner John Christianson. “There is no market between Anacortes and Mount Vernon and a market ties in nicely with our season, which peaks on Mother’s Day.”
The Vinery is named after the 24 stationary pea viners that once stood in front. Truck drivers brought pea vines from area farms so the machines could separate the vines from the peas. The peas went off to La Conner’s San Juan Cannery and other processing plants. The vines stayed behind in enormous piles on the property. “The smell of the stacks fermenting was offensive,” said Christianson, “and the seepage of silage was toxic to ornamental plants.” The smell is gone now, but beautiful photos of the pea harvest between the 1920s and the 1960s, when mobile viners made stationary viners obsolete, line the Vinery’s walls. Some images were taken by the renowned Asahel Curtis, who was sent to photograph the Skagit Valley by the Great Northern Railway. Others were taken by the equally gifted but less-known local photographer Glen Dixon. One or two feature the Mesman farm at Chilberg and Dodge Valley roads.
According to Christianson’s Facebook page, the Vinery is available for weddings and other celebrations and is being offered on a complimentary basis for garden club and agricultural conferences and gatherings. Besides the Vinery Open House, the market’s first day will feature produce, berries, cheese, cut flowers, bee products, jewelry, fresh espresso, wood-fired pizza, and hayrides. “We’re thrilled to share the history of pea vining in the valley and have people enjoy a farmers market all summer long,” said Christianson.