It sure is nice to have some real Oregon weather, cool, gray, and rainy. I hope it lasts as we can use the moisture following a droughty new year. Fire danger is right around the corner, already the City of Cottage Grove is on the patrol looking for high grass and weeds.
The motivation is, of course, fire danger (tinder is fire-friendly). Dry vegetation and wood debris are fuel for fire that if the right spark comes along could be disastrous. I have been pumping the sickle, harvesting my yard and going to orchard grass. I now have two massive compost stacks heating up through the aerobic reaction of greens and browns. I doubt that my efforts will be acknowledged and am expecting a letter saying my “yard is out of compliance.” It will be fixed by June 15, though, which is the deadline to clean up.
If your yard is fire-safe, well-groomed, and attractive, you might want to throw your hat in the ring for “Yard of the Week.” You can nominate yourself or one of your neighbors who is making an extra effort via phone, email, by letter, or in person. Call City Hall, 541-942-5501, or the Chamber at 541-942-2411 or email to: [email protected] or [email protected].
The South Valley Farmers Market (SVFM) has moved its operation from Thursday afternoons to Saturdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. This decision was made by the voting members of the SVFM. Accessibility to the market was an important consideration; this avoids folks not needing to rush to get there after work.
The SVFM is a nonprofit, a self-governing group of vendors who put on the market. If you are not up on your nonprofits, a 501.C (6) is a business association much like a chamber of commerce that exists to promote business but doesn’t make a profit or pay out dividends.
In an interesting twist, the SVFM is joining the Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce this year. There will be a ceremonial ribbon cutting during the Saturday, June 5 market as folks from the market are welcomed into the chamber. There is excitement among both entities to be joining forces.
Market manager Abbi Aldrich is happy with the move to Saturdays. “Most of the longtime vendors stuck with us as we made the move and new vendors are trying us out and often joining the market,” she said. “Every week we are seeing new customers. We have two plant vendors, a couple of pastry sellers, hazelnuts, mushrooms, a number of farms with seasonal produce, tie-dye and other craft vendors. We are happy to add a brand new farm, Singing Bird, a collaboration between a grandmother and granddaughter. They join Rocky Point, Singing Creek, Branch Road, Brice Creek, and other local organic growers in bringing you fresh produce.”
One of the usual suspects is the “Poetry Peddlers” booth occupied by resident poet Charles Matton, often joined by friend and fellow wordsmith Michael. Customers will receive an improvised poem on any subject suggested to him. Matton, after some hard pondering, will peck out a poem on his vintage portable manual typewriter. The sounds that come from the ideas being put to paper via an old-school technology is a sort of music not heard often and is very evocative. If you have never had the experience I heartily recommend you to treat yourself to a unique poem pulled out of thin air by the “Poetry Peddler.”
In another slight change the market has inched closer to the Cottage Grove Armory. That gives a wider spacing for social distancing by 4 feet. “We love our connection with the Armory. It goes back a number of years as we have moved into the building for the winter season,” Aldrich said.
Residents on the SNAP program receive a $20 match that doubles their purchasing power and puts high-quality food on the table.
Last year was hard for many market members. Customers at last year’s SVFM were encouraged to come pick up their items and not linger. Lingering is one of the joys of an open-air market, taking in the atmosphere and cultivating relationships with the folks who are growing your food.
There is a less-hesitant feel now and as a positive sign there are more kids present. “We are still following state guidelines and asking people to please wear masks and observe the 6-foot spacing. We are also looking forward to some fun collaborations with entertainment and live music that should be coming soon, and are positively looking for a good season,” Aldrich said.
The June 5 SVFM ribbon cutting will take place with the “Oregon Gran Fondo” as a backdrop. This event will bring up to 350 riders (event cap set to be Covid safe) to town for one of Oregon’s triple crown of bicycle rides. The route choices range from a 25-mile gravel run to the 134-mile “Gran Adventure.”
There are a number of safety measures such as staggered starts, distanced relief stations, sanitizing throughout, and masks required when distancing is not possible. Where there is a will there is a way! This one has put Cottage Grove on the bike world map.
If a Gran Fondo seems intimidating you might consider joining Jeff Gowing on his annual “Mayor’s Bike Ride.” Participants will saddle up on Saturday, June 19 at 10 a.m., at the Row River Trailhead Park (Highway 99 at Main St. just across the tracks) and head from there up to Mosby Creek Trailhead. Treats will be available there and riders can turn back to town or keep going. Our Mayor in past years has led the charge to do the whole distance to Culp Creek and back, 34 miles. The great thing about the Row River Trail is you can turn around at any time and enjoy a downhill ride home.
The Row River Trail will be getting some work done as a result of grant funding through the BLM, which just signed a contract with Cottage Grove for the section from Mosby Creek Trailhead to the end of the line at Culp Creek. Partnering with the City will be the conservation crew from Al Kennedy High School and some regular volunteers like Don Strahan.
Invasive plant species will be targeted and places where equipment reach will see some hand-work action.
Downtown got a little brighter this past week with the delivery of hanging baskets that were put up along Main St. from River Rd. to Gateway Blvd. Donors honoring loved ones contributed to “Downtown Cottage Grove,” which purchased and will water and maintain this splash of color along the main drag. Thank you to everyone who chipped in to make this nice gesture to beautify our historic district.