For the third consecutive year, an anonymous local resident has stepped forward to lend the Mercer Island Farmers Market a funding hand.
The market is set to open for its 15th season on June 5 in its usual location next to Mercerdale Park, and the resident is once again willing to match Islanders’ personal donations up to $5,000. The funding campaign will kick off on May 22 and potential donors can keep their eyes on the market’s website at https://www.mifarmersmarket.org/ for details.
Market president Jennifer Goodrich said they beat the matching goal the last two years and are hoping to meet or surpass the goal again by opening day. With market business sponsors feeling a monetary pinch due to the pandemic in 2020, the resident jumped into action with the matching scenario and has kept it going into the present day.
“We’ve been blown away, quite frankly, considering all the craziness of the last couple years. We think the Island appreciates having the market, and I think they really appreciated it during COVID when a lot of other community events were unfortunately unable to operate,” said Goodrich, adding that Aljoya is the market’s premier sponsor again this season and some small local businesses have also entered the sponsorship realm to help with the market’s operating costs.
Sam Bradshaw, the market’s manager, said it’s a “huge deal” to have the donor on board again and added that the nonprofit was awarded $2,500 from the Mercer Island Community Fund this season.
The market — which features fresh produce, live music, food and crafts — will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday, with a continuous weekly schedule from June 5 through September.
Marketing committee member Eunyoung Kim said one of the board members reached out to her to help with their mission of diversifying the market with vendors from different ethnic backgrounds offering produce not previously made available to customers.
The market’s website now includes a statement that reads: “We welcome and respect the differences within our community and are committed to advancing equity and inclusion in all areas of our mission.”
Farmers markets have always had a place in Kim’s heart, she said. While growing up in South Korea, she and her mother used to exclusively shop in open markets.
“I have a lot of fond memories of markets. It’s a community place where you see everyone every day,” she said.
Goodrich echoes Kim’s sentiment, adding that she enjoys the positive energy of the market while shopping with her kids and meeting friends each Sunday.
Bradshaw noted that they have 62 approved vendors this season and will feature about 50 of them per market, with the roster including Oxbow Farm, Premier Catch, Snohomish Bakery and Cookies With Tiffany.
Live music will also take center stage and Paul Sommer is the man in charge of the tunes.
“We are all excited by this year’s live music lineup. Look for some fabulous performances from many local well-known and loved artists,” he said. “Every week will feature music that will include bluegrass, western swing, country, jazz, blues, rock, soul, folk, gypsy swing as well as one of our returning favorites Yaamba Marimba, playing music from Zimbabwe.”