HISTORY OF THE OLDEST FARMER'S MARKET IN OREGON
In 1943, Salem homemakers had an enjoyable and long-established custom of driving to farms and orchards in Marion and Polk counties during midsummer and Autumn to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for preserving, making jelly and freezing. The inconvenience of tight gasoline rationing was keenly felt in Salem. A Salem native, who was familiar with 'Saturday Tailgate Markets' in California and knew that farm-truck owners had more liberal gasoline rationing than city dwellers, went to a meeting of the Salem City Council and asked them to authorize the holding of the tailgate market on Saturdays at the south end of Marion Square and on the street alongside.
Wind and rain made continuing the outdoor enterprise impractical. Then the suppliers sought out some means of selling their produce within some type of shelter. Through a trustee, they rented vacant land at the northeast corner of High and Union Streets. Two of the enthusiastic farmers bought the property. The whole group put together a building using lumber, windows and other material from Camp Adair, where dismantling of the old buildings was in progress. Salem Public Market was incorporated as a non-profit on April 19th, 1944.
In 1946 members of the corporation bought and paid for the present market site at 1240 Rural Ave SE. There were no buyers for the building at High and Union Street. So market members took down that building and rebuilt it at Rural St. Much of the labor was volunteer, as it is today.
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