Farmers Market season begins
Ryne Kalouger, 5, of Snohomish struggles to hold a bag of kettle corn that is almost as tall as he is while talking to his sister Alice, 4, while they were shopping with their family at the Snohomish Farmers Market on Thursday, May 25. Shoppers flocked to the market on Cedar Avenue as nearly 50 vendors were on hand at the market last week.
It’s nice to get to know the person who grew that tomato you’re holding.
While fresh produce and homemade products are two of the draws to local farmers markets, area managers say customers are also looking for the person-to-person contact with growers and producers they can’t find in a supermarket.
“We’re not just selling fruit,” said Karen Erickson, co-manager of the Everett Farmers Market. “Customers create relationships” with farmers, bakers and other vendors, Erickson said, and that produces a personal type of shopping experience.
On a recent blustery Thursday at the Snohomish Farmers Market, a bundled-up Sarah Dylan Jensen watched shoppers stroll up and down Cedar Avenue from her perch near the old Carnegie library. The aroma of freshly-popped kettle corn filled the air.
Jensen, the Snohomish market’s manager, said about 60 to 70 percent of sales at the market comes from
farmers or processors —those who take homegrown ingredients and add things to create new products, such as blackberry honey. The other 30 to 40 percent of sales come from arts, crafts and prepared foods, she said.
Despite gusts of wind and raindrops that day, Snohomish market shoppers examined flowers, candles, jewelry and other wares under several dozen white canvas tents.
Vendor Shannon Moore, of the Snohomish Candle Co., said she bought her husband a candle-making kit several years ago as a gift. “Our hobby turned into a business,” she said. Now, in addition to the farmers market, the Moores sell their hand-crafted candles at several local stores, such as McDaniel’s Do-It Center and the Cin-A-Mon Stik. The company was named “Top Candle Maker” for 2016 by North End Metro Magazine.
Not far from Moore’s booth, Scott Jenrich of Lake Stevens could be heard discussing varieties of his “pure local honey.” To this reporter, who sampled the “fireweed honey,” Jenrich explained that fireweed is a plant native to the Cascade Mountains that got its name because it was the first plant to grow back after a major forest fire.
Stories, color, history, relationships. All these seem to be part of the farmers market experience.
On Mother’s Day, Deborah Rolfsness sat beneath a tent at the Everett Farmers Market and tended her business, “Deborah’s Trailer Trash.”
“I sold trailers and motor-homes for 17 years,” she said. Now she sells acrylic paintings of, what else, campers, RVs, and motor homes— in various colors, sizes and settings.
Rolfsness quit her job in vehicle sales when her mother was gravely ill and took up painting instead. For six years she has sold her art, which she said is a tribute to her late mother. “It’s been a really wonderful, fantastic ride,” she said.
Gary Purves, co-manager with Erickson of the three Everett market locations, said the waterfront site averages about 100 vendors per week
and has nearly 150 who participate. It’s been operating for 24 years.
The Everett Mall Friday afternoon outdoor market, now in its fifth year, generally has between 20 and 28 vendors, he said. A “micro market” at Providence Regional Medical Center offers a variety of fresh berries weekly from the Swanson Family Farms, which currently is the hospital’s sole vendor.
New vendors are added to the other markets each year, Purves said, as well as new products and concessions. “We’re going to see
an increase in our vendors at the mall (location) by about 30 percent” this year, he said. The waterfront site will see a 20 percent increase in vendors who are accessible by paved road—a boon for disabled patrons and those with strollers. “That’s quite an improvement,” he said.
The Port of Everett has added a permanent covered picnic area at the market site, Purves said, as well as a new access road at Boxcar Park.
Debit and credit cards are welcome at the Everett Farmers Market, and this is the seventh year for the SNAP program, which helps
low-income shoppers purchase fresh produce with their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards and tokens. The market will match their token purchases of up to $10. “They double their purchasing power” at the waterfront and mall sites, Purves said.
A sad note was the April death of longtime Everett market helper Barbara Copeland, known as “The Token Lady.” Copeland handled the EBT transactions and welcomed patrons. “She was a really great addition to our team,” Purves said. “We will miss her tremendously.”
Last year, Molly Daniels saw the need for a farmers market in Monroe, so she started one. More than 4,000 people showed up on opening night, she said. Over 30 vendors already have signed up for this year’s market and Daniels hopes even more will come on board—especially those from the local community.
Beginning June 28, the Monroe market will meet at Lake Tye Park on Wednesdays, but is adding another market this year on the third Saturday of July, August and September.
A feature of the Snohomish and Monroe markets is the POP Club for kids. POP
stands for “Power of Produce” and allows children under 13 to sign up to receive $2 to spend on fresh produce at a market each week, with parental permission. It teaches
kids how to make good
purchasing decisions, Jensen said.
Area managers stressed the family-oriented, neighborly aspects of farmers markets. “You have a lot of neighbors
… people running into each other, hugging each other …” Erickson observed.
In the words of new market manager Molly Daniels, “it’s a ton of fun.”
A sampling of area farmers markets
Snohomish Farmers Market
Intersection of Cedar Avenue and Pearl Street in Snohomish
Thursdays 3 - 7 p.m. (through Sept. 28)
425-280-4150 / email@example.com
Monroe Farm-to-Table Market
Lake Tye Park, 14964 Fryelands Blvd. in Monroe
Wednesdays 3-7 p.m. (June 28 - Sept. 6), and the third Saturday in July, August and September from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
360-421-1118 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Everett Farmers Market
at Boxcar Park (615 13th St. in Everett)
Sundays 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. (through Oct. 15)
(425) 422-5656 / email@example.com
Friday Farmers Market
Everett Mall – Sears Parking Lot (1402 SE Everett Mall Way in Everett)
Fridays 3 to 7 p.m. (June 23- Sept. 8)
Contact information same as Everett Farmers Market
Wednesday Farmers Market at Providence Hospital
(at hospital, 1700 13th St. in Everett), Wednesdays from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Contact information same as Everett Farmers Market
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