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Farmers Market is Business of the Year
The Mercer Island Farmers Market may have ended its season several weeks back, but the community is still showing its love. On Thursday Joel Wachs, past M.I. market board president, Patty Spahr, market manager and Kari Fish, the current board president accepted an award for business of the year by the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce.
“They have brought a whole bunch of energy and activity to Sundays on Mercer Island,” said Terry Moreman, executive director of the chamber. “It’s an economic magnet. People come from all over the place.”
The Farmers Market launched a ten week test run in 2008. Though it only ran a short season that first year, it quickly picked up momentum, crafting an image for itself as family-oriented with a focus on sustainability.
The response though, wasn’t always positive. Having opened on the cusp of the recession, said Nannette Bassett, one of its founders who does marketing and publicity for the market, some Island businesses feared it would detract from their own customer base. Community collaboration helped change that. Three years ago the market organized a coupon book and outreach booth for local businesses to rotate through.
“It’s been a very good partnership in shopping local,” said Moreman.
Now in its sixth season, neighbors can buy fruits, veggies, jams, flowers, pasta, cheese, eggs and a host of other delicacies.
“I’m very proud that [the Chamber] and other organizations on Mercer Island have recognized the market as being a strong business partner to the community,” said Bassett.
Next year the market will further grow its vendor base by offering wine and beer tasting. (Under Washington’s new law only three wineries or microbreweries can offer samples at a farmers market per day.) Food trucks, live music and cooking demos are also offered.
Moreman attributes the Farmers Market’s success to the sharp business chops of those managing it and its community feel.
“Neighbors know the vendors and the vendors know the customers,” said Moreman.