Marla Becker and Larry Almo of Aljoya smile at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Mercer Island Farmers Market, which was hosted by Aljoya in its garden patio. Katie Metzger/staff photo

Mercer Island Farmers Market turns 10

  • Thursday, August 17, 2017 12:59pm
  • Life

Aug. 10, 2008 is an important date in the history of Mercer Island.

On that Sunday, the first farmers market opened on the Island, thanks to grants provided by the Mercer Island Community Fund and the city, and also to the hard work of a group of Islanders who were passionate about supporting local farmers and bringing fresh, organic produce to the Island. After running a 10-market season that year, the Mercer Island Farmers Market (MIFM) took off from there and hasn’t looked back.

The Market celebrated its 10th anniversary with board members, sponsors and volunteers at a garden party hosted by Aljoya on Aug. 10.

Ten years after its experimental run, the MIFM is a vibrant hub of activity for Islanders of all ages, local farmers and artisan food venders, local businesses, community volunteer groups and nonprofit organizations. Today, about 50 vendors sell fresh produce and artisanal foods every Sunday for 18 weeks, starting in June.

On each market day, shoppers enjoy the live music of local musicians, ranging from jazz and bluegrass to folk and marimba.

At the Children’s Table, beloved educator Judy Witmer develops hands-on activities to educate children about nutrition and farming. Master Gardeners and monthly Tasting Events add to the market experience. T

he Market has an average of 2,500 visitors per market day, and over 45,000 visitors per season.

Since vendor fees cover approximately 64 percent of the costs needed to keep the Market open, the MIFM relies on a dedicated base of volunteers to keep the Market running, including VOICE and National Charity League (NCL). However, the Market still needs financial resources to cover Market day programming and other expenses.

During the first full market season in 2009, Aljoya enthusiastically became the presenting sponsor, and has remained the Market’s premiere sponsor ever since.

When asked why Aljoya is such a strong supporter of the Market, Executive Director Marla Becker replied that they share similar missions, both promoting community and nutrition.

“We want our residents to feel welcome in the community, and feel like they’re contributing to it,” Becker said. “With Aljoya, the Farmers Market was a perfect fit. It’s so fabulous to have locally, for all of the people that live on the Island, but also because we really push nutrition and healthy eating.”

When Aljoya opened in 2008, the same year as the market, 75 percent of its residents were from the Island, Becker said.

“I was amazed that it’s been 10 years [of the Farmers Market],” Becker said. “We’ve been open nine years this September, so we got in on the ground floor and have seen it grow every year. It’s gotten better and better.”

To learn more or make a donation, go to the website at www.mifarmersmarket.org.

Market sponsors

Platinum: Aljoya

Gold: Caruccio’s, the city of Mercer Island, Orthodontic Associates of Mercer Island, Island Books, MICA, Covenant Shores

Silver: Bennett’s, Mercer Island Eyeworks, Mary Lee & Associates, Dermatology Arts, Mindy’s Fitness Over 50

Bronze: Khue Dang, Anni Zilz, Martin Weiss and Betty Delaurenti, Coldwell Banker Bain, Seattle Children’s

Judy and Dan Witmer raise a glass to the market’s 10th anniversary. Katie Metzger/staff photo

MICA’s Jami Cairnes, Sharon Perez and Keith Imper pose for a photo at the celebration. Katie Metzger/staff photo

Mayor Bruce Bassett and Councilmember Benson Wong show their support for the market. Katie Metzger/staff photo

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