Farmers ready for this year’s market season

By Sarah Meyer, PNT Staff Writer

Local growers say the crops are looking good and they’re ready for the official opening of the Portales Farmers Market.

The market will be open at a new time — 5 p.m. — Mondays and Thursdays now through the end of October, said Margie Plummer, market manager.

“We got a lot of rain the last couple of weeks,” said Smokey Ball, who farms east of Portales. “The crops look real good.”

Ball said he’s been gardening all his life, and he will be offering all kinds of vegetables at the Portales Farmers Market. He also sells fresh produce at the Clovis Farmers Market.

Don and Denise Wiley, owners of Good Shepherd Farm, halfway between Clovis and Portales, also sell at both markets.

“The crops are awesome,” said Don Wiley. “This is a good year for us.”

They’re relatively new to farming, though Don Wiley said he’s always had a garden.

He got serious about farming three years ago after retiring from the Air Force.

Denise Wiley said she’s always been interested in herbs, but had never grown produce until marrying Don two years ago.
“It’s all new to me,” she said.

Their farm was certified organic last year, but not this year. “Too much paperwork,” Don Wiley said, though he still uses organic farming methods.

The couple now has onions, carrots, beets, squash, swiss chard, kale and herbs, along with cut flowers.

Benefits of shopping at farmers markets, according to Ball, are that the produce is fresher, it’s usually good quality, purchases help support local farmers, you know where you’re getting your food from, and it’s usually not sprayed with chemicals.

Plummer encourages anyone who has extra produce from their garden to sell at the farmers market.

“We’ve got the customer base,” she said. “We need more vendors.”

With the recent health scares related to store-bought produce, Plummer said, “people are interested in fresh, locally grown produce.”
Vendor fees at the Portales Farmers Market are $5 a day or $50 for the season. The market will accept WIC and Senior Nutrition Program vouchers.