Conventional wisdom in the farmers’ market community says that it takes five years for a market to really get established, so it is with great anticipation that organizers look to the start of Millwood Farmers’ Market’s fifth season on the corner of Euclid and Marguerite in historic Millwood.
On May 24, 2007, the market made its debut with a dozen vendors and a few hundred curious shoppers. The organizing team made up of farmers, business owners, and church leaders hoped that some day this little neighborhood market would grow to be a vital expression of community life. The experiences during the first four years of the market have far exceeded those hopes.
The market has grown to include as many as forty vendors during the season and as many as 500 shoppers on a Wednesday afternoon. The farmers and artisans have developed a dedicated group of customers who come back week after week for bread, honey, vegetables, and freshly harvested fruits. The market was the impetus for a new state law allowing Washington non-profit organizations to host farmers’ markets without losing their property-tax exemptions. It has developed a strong relationship with the West Valley School District, with City School students selling plant starts and an annual poster contest featuring the art of West Valley students. The market has been mentioned in The New York Times, Farmers’ Market Today Magazine, on CNN’s Belief Blog, and on NPR and PBS. Most recently, the Millwood Farmers’ Market was featured in the book, Year of Plenty, which contains a chapter on the city of Millwood and its market. (See excerpt from Year of Plenty chapter that accompanies this press release. This excerpt will be featured in an upcoming edition of the Farmers’ Market Today magazine.)
After spending the winter indoors at The Crossing Youth Center, the Millwood Farmers’ Market moves outdoors at 3223 N. Marguerite on May 18. Hours are 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sept. 28. More information is available at www.millwoodmarket.org. On opening day the winners of this year’s poster contest will be honored. (See winners in the box to the left.)
“We once again have great variety of vendors,” said Pastor Craig Goodwin, market director. “Thirty-three vendors have been approved for the 2011 season.”
At the market, you can buy directly from the people who grow, raise or gather vegetables, fruit, bread, eggs and meat, along with specialty items such as wild mushrooms, huckleberries, honey, jam and salsa. The market also features the work of a select group of artisans, including locally hand-crafted soaps and jewelry.
Millwood and more than 100 other markets statewide accept state WIC (Women, Infants and Children) coupons, which help provide nutritional foods to supplement diets for low-income families. Shoppers may also use EBT (electronic benefits transfer), debit or credit cards, which are swiped at the market’s main booth, in exchange for tokens accepted by vendors.
Fast fact: According to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), “as of mid-2010, there were 6,132 farmers markets operating throughout the U.S. This is a 16 percent increase from 2009.” There are currently 146 farmers’ markets listed by AMS in the state of Washington.
A new feature at the AMS site allows the mapping of all the markets in the state. Go to http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/googleMap.aspx?state=WASHINGTON for an interactive online version showing all the markets in Washington.