ROSEBURG, Ore. — After just two years, Amanda Pastoria’s impact on the Umpqua Valley Farmers’ Market in Roseburg as its manager has been recognized and honored at the state level.
Pastoria was named 2019 Oregon Market Manager by the Oregon Farmers Market Association at the organization’s annual meeting on Feb. 22 in Corvallis, Ore. There are about 105 farmers’ markets in the state.
“I cried, and I’m not a crier,” Pastoria said of hearing her name. “I was overcome with emotion, I was super touched.
“I’m definitely filled with gratitude,” the 42-year-old added. “I work hard at what I do and it’s nice to receive the appreciation.”
The Umpqua Valley Farmers’ Market, a year-round Saturday market, has experienced increases in vendors, customers and sales in the past two years. Pastoria said vendor spaces have increased by 18%, SNAP sales by 12% and credit card sales by 67% in those two years. The market hit a record high 58 vendors at its peak last summer.
“We’ve had some incredibly small businesses pop up,” Pastoria said. “It’s nice to see that entrepreneurial spirit, to see success stories here at the market.”
Pastoria has established the Food Hero and Fruit and Veggie Prescription programs at the market. Last summer’s 10-week Food Hero program attracted 672 kids who sampled a fruit or veggie recipe, then did an activity and were rewarded with a $2 voucher to spend at the market on fruits and vegetables.
“It’s all about health and wellness,” Pastoria said of the two programs.
Pastoria has also created special activities that enhance the market at Easter, Fourth of July, National Farmers’ Market Week in August and at Halloween.
“I’m always looking for new fun ways to bring people in to enjoy the market on Saturdays,” Pastoria said.
Jim Leet, a 14-year small farm vendor at the market and a past president of the market’s board, said Pastoria has been innovative.
“She’s brought in some new fresh ideas, celebrations that spotlight different times of the year,” Leet said. “She’s been successful in getting those ideas and activities implemented and they have helped bring in new people. She hit the ground running and hasn’t slowed down since.”
Prior to becoming the market’s manager a couple years ago, Pastoria worked at the Big Lick Farm booth in trade for produce. She liked the culture of the market so much that she had her own kitchen certified, made organic vegan and vegetarian foods, and opened her own booth, Nurturing Your Nest, at the market.
But when previous market manager Heather Barklow resigned, Pastoria knew that position was “an excellent fit for me.” She applied and was hired.
“I feel so grateful to do a job that I am passionate about, and love,” she wrote in a letter to the market vendors. “I am incredibly blessed to work with so many creative, hard-working, loyal and dependable vendors. They give the community a reason to gather. They educate the community. They create the desire for our community to return to us each week for amazing quality, local goods.”
Pastoria also recently accepted the market manager position for the Canyonville Farmers’ Market in Canyonville, Ore. She’ll manage that market’s summer season, on Wednesdays, from May to September.