Amie Rodriguez Albaugh of Amie’s Garden outside Sequim was among the vendors in 2021 at the Port Townsend Farmers Market. The Jefferson County Farmers Markets organization has opened a startup fund for people of color interested in vending at the 2022 markets in Port Townsend or Chimacum. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Amie Rodriguez Albaugh of Amie’s Garden outside Sequim was among the vendors in 2021 at the Port Townsend Farmers Market. The Jefferson County Farmers Markets organization has opened a startup fund for people of color interested in vending at the 2022 markets in Port Townsend or Chimacum. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Start-up fund aims to include more people of color

Food, farm and art vendors encouraged to apply

Farmers markets can and should become more welcoming, Jefferson County Farmers Markets director Amanda Milholland believes.

She and the JCFM board and staff are extending an invitation with money behind it: the BIPOC — Black, indigenous and people of color — Start-Up Business Fund.

“Farmers markets historically have a reputation of being white, middle- to high-income spaces,” Milholland noted.

When people of color aren’t included at a farmers market, “our community misses out,” she said, “on relationships to our neighbors, diverse market products and part of the culture of our place.”

The fund aims to address some of the barriers BIPOC entrepreneurs have faced, including lack of access to the traditional financing and inherited wealth that can help grow a business, she added.

In 2020, the JCFM formed an equity committee, which in turn established the BIPOC fund. Applicants can receive $500 to $1,500 to develop their farm, food and art businesses and join the market in Uptown Port Townsend on Saturdays and in downtown Chimacum on Sundays.

While there’s no deadline to apply, Milholland encourages BIPOC entrepreneurs to contact her before this Tuesday — the deadline for Port Townsend Farmers Market vendor applications. That market will open for the season on April 2.

Information can be found at www.jcfmarkets.org while Milholland can be reached at 360-379-9098 or [email protected].

“We encourage farm, food and art businesses that are BIPOC-owned to apply for the fund at the same time that they apply (to vend at) the Port Townsend or Chimacum Farmers Market, so they can receive notification of both their application status and fund support at the same time,” she said.

Prospective vendors have a bit more time to apply for Jefferson County’s other market. The deadline is April 1 for the one that will open at 9122 Rhody Drive in Chimacum on June 5.

Last season, the BIPOC fund supported four recipients, including Juri Jennings of the Peddler, a bicycle-powered grocery delivery enterprise and the Jefferson County Anti-Racist Fund, which set up its information booth once a month at the Port Townsend market last year.

“They used funds to create signage, for printing and to provide a stipend to volunteers for their work representing JCARF at the market,” Milholland said.

More information about the anti-racist fund, which supports BIPOC people through the sharing of resources, including food, housing and transportation, can be found at www.jcarf.org and on Instagram via jeffersoncountyantiracistfund.

As for the BIPOC start-up fund, Milholland hopes to grow it this year.

“We have $2,500 set aside for the fund at the moment, and we are looking for more sponsors and donors,” she said.

Current sponsors include the Chimacum Corner Farmstand, the Port Townsend Food Co-op, the Jefferson Community Foundation and United Good Neighbors.

All together, the Port Townsend Farmers Market, held at Tyler and Lawrence streets from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., when it opens in the spring, has room for 70 to 80 vendors, Milholland said. Chimacum’s market will have space for up to 30 vendors.

Both farmers markets will continue their programs to make farm-fresh food available to shoppers with modest incomes, Milholland noted. Information about these food access programs is available at www.jcfmarkets.org and by phoning 360-379-9098.

At the same time, JCFM is aiming to create a new environment.

“JCFM recognizes that BIPOC folks are more engaged and better served by our markets when our vendor base includes BIPOC vendors and the diverse products they offer,” Milholland noted.

“Each vendor business brings new and interesting products that enrich our markets, and attract new shoppers.”

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Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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