When locals visit the Mercer Island Farmers Market they can gather a basket of goods and a mind full of knowledge.
The 16-year-old market will kick off its 2023 season from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 4 along Southeast 32nd Street and 77th Avenue Southeast near Mercerdale Park. The market will run on Sundays through mid-October and feature a Harvest Market on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Attendees can shop away for fresh produce like vegetables and fruit, along with baked goods and more to the sounds of live music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
On the learning front, members of NIGH (No Islander Goes Hungry), Mercer Island Youth and Family Services and the Mercer Island Community Fund will be present on select dates throughout the season to discuss community issues. Master Gardeners will also be on hand to share their knowledge with the green-thumbers on the Island.
Children can also get in on the action by learning about sustainability, where foods come from and more.
Board President Jennifer Goodrich delved into how the market resonates with the tight-knit community: “I think the Mercer Island Farmers Market is a mix of community engagement, vendors — from farmers to prepared foods — crafters and just kind of a general enjoyment of that type of atmosphere. Sustainable food systems, music, liveliness.”
The Mercer Island Community Fund has provided a $5,000 grant to the market this year to help the nonprofit with the costs of insurance, permits, tents and other necessities to keep the market rolling. Also lending a major hand for the fourth consecutive year is a generous Island family that is offering to match up to $5,000 in community donations. While they’re still in the midst of the donation drive for this year, Goodrich noted that the total of community donations and the family’s match reached about $12,000 for each of the last three years.
Goodrich spotlighted a trio of the hard-working vendors that have been selling their products at the market for copious years: AG Family Farm (Quincy) and its certified organic fruit, Cookies with Tiffany (Seattle) and Hayton Farms (Fir Island in Skagit Valley) and its berries.
In all, there are 50 Washington state vendors listed on the market site and some of them sell items like hot sauce, jewelry, fresh flowers, clothes, handmade soaps and more.
“I think what’s really fun about us is vendors come back year over year. I think we’re like a solid, mid-sized market. I think they find us to be of value to them as well. It’s a very reciprocal relationship,” said Goodrich, adding that they try to keep table fees as low as possible for vendors, who often pick or gather their quality products from their farms on the day of the market.
Some of the sponsors for the market — which draws about 1,500 people throughout each Sunday — are longtime platinum sponsor Aljoya along with Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and Riot Games. Goodrich said the city of Mercer Island provides vital support by opening the streets where the market resides and hanging the event banners.
“I think it’s a really special time and I think it’s something that Mercer Islanders, in particular, appreciate,” Goodrich added about seeing people enjoying the market together and picnicking at Mercerdale Park on sunny summer Sundays.
First out of the gate on the music front, YAAMBA Marimba will perform on June 4 and Ranger and the “Re-Arrangers” will offer swing standards, traditional European melodies and the music of Django Reinhardt on June 11.
For more information, visit https://www.mifarmersmarket.org/
To donate, visit https://www.mifarmersmarket.org/donate