Learning curve

City plans changes to Farmers Market schedule for next year

Officials hope new dates, times will reduce conflicts, guarantee an abundance of fresh produce
By Dan Aznoff | Oct 18, 2018
Courtesy of: City of Mill Creek Many of the shoppers who attended the first year of the Farmers Market in Mill Creek this summer were drawn to the vendor who offered small plants that could be planted in their own gardens. The street fair will be the only market in Snohomish County on Tuesdays when it returns for its second year.

The first year of the Farmers Market in Mill Creek brought together dozens of vendors with residents eager to have fresh produce and hand-made items from local artisans.

But the city thinks it can do even better next year.

Based on feedback from the regular vendors and a survey of shoppers at the market, the city announced plans to start the weekly marketplace one month earlier and end before the start of the Evergreen State Fair. Officials said the hours would be shortened to accommodate vendors and commuters.

The move, according to city spokesperson Joni Kirk, will guarantee the availability of fresh produce for the opening of the market on June 18 and an abundant supply through the summer until Aug. 20.

The market will remain in its present location in the parking lot of City Hall, but move from Friday afternoons to Tuesdays from 3 until 7 p.m. The changes will allow the market to stay open later to for commuters and not conflict with vendors who participate in farmers markets on Saturday.

“With the new day, Mill Creek still has a niche in the market since there are no other Farmers Markets on Tuesday in Snohomish County,” Kirk said. “The new time will also open up available parking spaces to community members since businesses will not need to save parking for their clients after they close for the day at 5.”

Kirk added that the city would work with the adjacent businesses to ensure parking lots are open for event parking after normal business hours.

“This could easily solve the parking problems and encourage local businesses to be more involved with the market,” she said. “It provides the start to sponsorship conversations.”

Market Manager Sarah Jensen will be retained to operate the weekly street fair. Kirk said the manager’s connections will be a valuable asset in securing quality vendors and musicians throughout the duration of the market season.

The first year of the Farmers Market in Mill Creek averaged 28 vendors per week, with a one-week high of 36 contracted booths.  Kirk said the number and variety of vendors was impressive compared to other start-up markets that normally average in the teens and rely on non-food items during the first few years of operation.

Local musicians were another highlight of the Mill Creek endeavor. In addition to the booths contracted by growers, the Mill Creek market featured shoppers access to information on local non-profit organizations, free blood pressure/health screenings, voter registration and updates about the Swift Green Line operated by Community Transit.

The city also plans to retain the Power of Produce (POP) program that encouraged young people aged 4-13 to participate in farm-friendly craft projects. Kids who participated in the activity or veggie-tasting were given $2 to spend on produce. Kirk said the POP program attracted between 20 and 50 kids every week.

One person who was thrilled with the change was Mayor Pam Pruitt, who took off from work early every Friday to pick up produce before heading home for the weekend.

“I love the market and what it brings to our community,” Pruitt said. “The Farmers Market is a gathering place for residents and draws people from outside our city to spend money in Mill Creek.”

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.