Editorial | Harvest

Last Sunday was the final day for the inaugural season of the Mercer Island Farmers Market. The market, held for 10 Sundays along S.E. 32nd Street adjacent to Mercerdale Park, was blessed with a nearly perfect run of good weather throughout August and September.

Was it a success?

Based on the crowd at last Sunday’s market, the market did not lose its appeal even after 10 weeks.

Market organizers showed some wit in selecting vendors who were sure to attract Islanders and visitors alike. There were items beyond the amazing flowers and the fresh vegetables. The handmade pizza baked in a wood-burning oven right on the street was a huge hit — with more than 30 people lined up at one point last Sunday. Chocolate cupcakes, always in season, were snapped right up. Pumpkin-carving by a dad from the Halloween-crazed Lakes neighborhood was a smart move certain to attract those ghosts and goblins without any interest in onions or tomatoes.

The benefits of such an event are hard to quantify. The intent of the market was to offer organically grown goods to Islanders and help along the farmers who grow these goods. Did it meet expectations? Was it truly a sustainable event — friendly to both the earth and the environment? To be sure, plenty of people walked to the market, and there were lots of strollers and bicycles. But there are always costs. The goods had to be driven in by truck. Many shoppers drove their cars to the Town Center to check out the market. And there are more prosaic questions. Did the vendors make enough money to come back? Did the market also help sustain local businesses in the Town Center?

Despite the crowds, at the stroke of 3 p.m. on each of the last 10 Sundays, the block was clean and quiet. All evidence of the activity was gone with the exception of a dozen or so crows checking for pizza crumbs. The Island now boasts an informed and savvy bunch of Islanders who are experts in planning this type of event, tailored to the sensibilities and tastes of Islanders.

Islanders smiled and chatted as they waited patiently for their pizza or produce. The value of another event that brings Islanders together outdoors is, of course, priceless.

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