Two farms on Thursday, Sept. 16, tried to make up for a farmers market that did not happen in Hermiston. They intend to attract others for a bigger market in following weeks.

The Maxwell Market in Hermiston is a weekly farmers market in Hermiston at the Maxwell Event Center & Pavilion. The Thursday afternoon market, which can attract a dozen to 20 farm booths, sells local produce.

The event, though, was canceled, as organizers cited staffing problems. This market, and the remaining two markets of the 2021 season, would be canceled because it could not find workers for it. The COVID-19 pandemic has created this lack of staff.

A Facebook post for the Maxwell Market states, “Hope to see you for the 2022 season!” So organizers intend to return next year.

Still, a couple of local farms were undeterred by the market’s closure. They got together and set up their own market in McKenzie Park, outside and across the street from the event center. With only two vendors, it was not as large as the planned Maxwell Market, but the participants were glad to have a place to sell their produce, honey and baked goods.

Kraig Mueller, 3rd Gen Farms owner, grows cucumbers, lettuce, melons, carrots and other row crops. A Hermiston resident, he has four fields in Hermiston, nine acres spread out “in all corners of Hermiston.” He wanted to see the market continue.

After all, markets are how he makes his income. With the money he earns at markets, he buys seeds and equipment.

“We’re market farmers, market gardeners,” he said. “We’re farmers, this is our income.”

He was disappointed when he heard the Maxwell Market would be closed. Its closure was uncommon, as he regularly brought his vegetables there every week during the season. Other markets close on occasion, especially for special events, but this one was a surprise.

He also knew that it would be a surprise to his customers. He made promises that he would be in Hermiston every week during the season.

When he heard of the closure, he began making calls.

“The city was kind enough to say, ‘yeah, come down, and we’re not going to charge you anything.’” He also called his farming friends, people who also have booths at the Maxwell Market.

With short notice, he was not able to organize a larger market, but he believes he can attract more people in the following week.

Veronica Delgado, Veronica’s Fresh Produce owner, operated the other booth at the impromptu market in the park. A Pasco farmer, her family has five acres. She has been at the Maxwell Market for three years, and she likes it.

She came to Hermiston on Thursday with peaches, potatoes, beans, corn, plums, honey, baked bread and more.

She said it would have been a shame to lose her goods. When Mueller called her and said they had an opportunity to sell in the park, she jumped at it. Otherwise, she her products would have gone to waste.

“It’s good to be here,” she said. She hopes to return this week.

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