PUBLIC PROFILE: Stacy Van Voorhees, Medford Thursday Farmers’ Market Manager
Rogue Valley Messenger: You and Tom moved here with your son Oliver a few years ago. What brought you to southern Oregon from NYC?
Stacy Van Voorhees: The journey began back in the “Old World,” pre 9/11, 2001. We were newly married and had been rag-tagging around NYC for 15 years. Our partnership inspired us to stabilize. Tom landed a gig at a new fancy food shop in Brooklyn at the forefront of the American cheese revolution. His first day on the job, en route via subway directly under the Twin Towers the first plane hit. As if the first day on the job isn’t stressful enough…
Despite the drama, to answer your question, the key word here is cheese! From that little shop in Brooklyn, Tom advanced to Murray’s Cheese, a small, burgeoning hub of cheese royalty. In a fit of total whimsy, we reached out to the Rogue Creamery. Within a week, Tom was here in Central Point casing the joint to assess the possibilities. That weekend, I flew out, loved it, got a house (with daffodils) and a job. Tom started working immediately (on Valentine’s Day) while I returned home to pack up our life with our 4-year-old. A week later Tom came back, we loaded Susanne and the moving truck and kissed NYC goodbye. It was a whirlwind!
RVM: You are a person who likes to get involved. You manage the Medford Thursday Farmers Market (and previously managed the Ashland Farmers’ Market) and the Ashland Film Festival and you live in Central Point. What’s up in CP that you are involved in?
SVV: In addition to working in whatever way would fit around the child-rearing piece, I have volunteered at Britt, CASA, Ashland Independent Film Festival, Hearts & Vines, Bee Girl, and more. Our first philanthropic family outings in CP were planting flower boxes in front of the businesses downtown and building a playground with the United Way. I work at Costco now, in addition to the Rogue Valley Growers Cooperative Market, so time is stretched thin.
Tom is on the Central Point City Planning Commission and Chamber of Commerce. We make a pretty big deal out of the CP 4th of July celebration every year.
RVM: What are future plans as far as being involved in the greater Rogue Valley community?
SVV: When time allows, I would love to become more active supporting public artwork and the growing farmers market in town. I also plan on getting involved in the Crater Foundation now that our son is going to high school there. It is a great organization for the kids!
RVM: You and Daria Land manage the wonderful Thursday Medford Grower’s Market. What is happening at the market that folks will be excited about?
SVV: Site managing the Thursday Market is like building a city from the ground up, with new challenges and adventure, every single week. Throughout the season, vendor attendance accordions from 30-40 in the Spring and Fall when produce is still growing to 70-80 in the summer high season. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to create a harmonious balance and keep everyone happy. I am also the Outreach and Administration Manager in charge of all Public Relations, Marketing, Advertising, and Social Media. It feels like there’s been a real uptick of buzz around the markets (Tuesday at the Ashland National Guard Armory and Saturday on Oak Street, downtown Ashland) this year, in particular, which is awesome! Coming up, we have Kidz Day the second week of July at all three of our markets. The Great Tomato Tasting in September is always a big hit. We strive to make every week at market a special occasion.
RVM: The Grower’s Market has a great location in Hawthorne Park and there is something for everyone to do, including an exercise station and a playground with a water feature for the kids to run through. I see lots of multi-generation families there. How have you shaped the market and what is your vision for making it even better?
SVV: Hawthorne Park is a perfect spot for this market. When we were forced to relocate out of the Armory parking lot (due to renovations) three years ago, there were a couple of new locations in the running. I pushed hard for the park because it seemed the perfect combination of downtown hustle and bustle and farmy, family fun. Medford Parks & Rec Department has been so supportive and accommodating of our ‘special needs’. They are really dedicated to improving the parks, and city at-large, for all citizens. We appreciate those hard working people very much. We also thank our business and residential neighbors for their patience with parking. It gets a little Hunger Games at times.
RVM: You and Tom and Oliver have embraced the Rogue Valley and giving it your all. It’s a far cry from NYC, isn’t it? Still pinching yourself?
SVV: We pinch ourselves every day! We loved our NYC life, but have not missed it, even once. I thought after ten years I would be used to the beautiful landscape, laid back environment and west coast vibe. Not so. We’re Rogue Valleyians now, and love the life we’ve carved out for ourselves. Thank you for welcoming us into the fold!