FREE RANGE THOUGHTS & FRESH PICKED IDEAS
When the residents of the resort town of Hood River, Oregon woke up on the morning of Monday, June 16 2008 they found their main street taken over by giant carrots. The larger-than-life homage to fresh produce was the work of Gorge Grown Farmer’s Market and Owen. Gorge Grown Food Network, sponsor of the Farmers’ Market, serves as a central source to inform and connect local Columbia River Gorge farmers, food producers and consumers. Their primary initiative each year is the Gorge Grown Farmers’ Market.
Once the idea struck the Owen team contacted several vendors. But none could fabricate the carrots to their satisfaction and none were willing to donate either their services or labor. Undaunted, the team kept researching. Luckily Hood River if famous as a windsurfing and kite boarding destination. The team consulted a few local surfboard manufacturers and decided they could build the carrots ourselves. They built a first “alpha-carrot’ out of fiberglass, created a hard foam mold around it, and formed the carrots from that mold. The carrots are made out of the same foam material that keeps surfboards afloat. All told, the carrots cost less than $1,500 to produce.
The campaign also consisted of printed pieces that turned car and truck antennas throughout town into delicious looking grilled vegetable skewers.
On opening day, the Farmer’s Market was mobbed with customers and sold out in thefirst few hours. The next week, to keep up with demand they doubled their number of vendors. In the two weeks since the carrots were first installed, images of them have appeared in two regional newspapers and 20+ websites around the world, including the front page of trendhunter.com.
“Owen did an amazing job with this whole operation and went way beyond the expected level of involvement” says Todd Dierkner, Farmers Market manager, “and are to be given much of the credit for the great turn-out last night — and in the weeks to the biggest challenge will be recruiting enough farmers to meet the demand.”
The idea has even sparked a look-alike-ripoff in Antwerp. Check the dates, Owen had them by a year +.