PORT TOWNSEND — A new location spurred participation by both vendors and shoppers at the Wednesday Farmers Market, said Amanda Milholland, director of Jefferson County Farmers Markets.
The Wednesday Farmers Market at the Jefferson Transit Haines Street Park and Ride at 440 12th St. ended its season on a bright, sunny note, Milholland said, with children’s activities, early fall produce, fish, bread, music and jars of preserves lining the market stalls.
With summer now a memory, many vendors will continue displaying their goods at the Saturday Market at Tyler and Lawrence streets, through Dec. 15, or at the Chimacum Market at the Chimacum Corner Farmstand, 9122 Rhody Drive, on Sundays through October.
The Wednesday Market was an uptown staple for the past 12 years on Polk Street. The decision to move to another location was based on a steady decline in both participation by vendors and number of shoppers.
Milholland said the new Wednesday Market averaged between 250 and 350 visitors each month, an increase over last year.
Milholland said the market has grown in this new location from an average of seven to 14 vendors. She didn’t have any sales figures to share; she said only that the response has been excellent.
Community participation has expanded to encompass new neighborhoods within walking distance, people who live and work at the Port Townsend Boat Haven and surrounding businesses, and those who use Jefferson Transit from all around the county, she said.
“If we are going to have a thriving Wednesday market, it really requires a greater community investment in our small local businesses that participate in this mid-week market,” Milholland said.
The mid-week market plays an important role for new vendors, acting as a kind of business incubator, she said.
“During their first year of business, vendors want to start with one of our smaller markets and feel out the flow and what they need to produce and run a market business,” she said.
“The experience allows them to have a direct sales opportunity in the middle of the week which is super important for them to survive as small local businesses.
”It’s a low-bar entry point.We don’t charge high vendor fees and we want to help encourage these small businesses to flourish, provide food to our community, and provide reliable employment opportunities,” she said.
“This is where a lot of people’s small farm businesses start. This is an important part of what this market offers.”
As an example, Meghan Mix, owner of Hopscotch Farm and Cannery, was thrilled with the response to her business, which is named Hopscotch for a reason. She’s been jumping around from plot to plot all around town to grow her produce.
“I don’t own my own land,” Mix said. “ I’m a micro multi-plot farm so I’m farming on six different plots around Port Townsend. I leverage community resources for free land and water as I get my business started.”
She said her plans are to evaluate her participation in the market and that she “will most likely be back next season at the mid-week market and possibly the Saturday market as well.”
Milholland said this year was the first season of a weekly youth club at both the Port Townsend Wednesday and Chimacum Sunday markets.
Partners included the Port Townsend Public Library, Jefferson County Library, YMCA, 4-H, the ReCyclery, the Organic Seed Alliance and Prosper Yoga. They participated in different projects aimed at helping youngsters learn about growing food and understanding nutrition.
“We are grateful to the support of Jefferson Transit this season,” Milholland said. “Tammi Rubert and her team were very welcoming of our mid-week market and worked closely with me to help make this season a success,” she said.
For more information, see jcfmarkets.org.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]