|Seattle’s floating market is unique venue for shoppers|
|Written by Deborah Stone|
Farmers markets abound in our area, as they’ve continued to be very popular with residents who enjoy shopping for fresh, locally sourced products direct from the growers.
Most towns, no matter their size, seem to have gotten in on the act.
The markets appear similar, with booths and tables set up at an established location on a set day of the week during the late spring, summer and early fall months.
For a change of pace however, you might want to check out the Lake Union Park Floating Market.
According to market manager Michael Petrone, it’s the only one of its kind in the entire country.
He says, “I’ve done research and I can’t find another floating market in the U.S. It’s really unique, which makes it a very special experience.”
In its second year, the market, which is open Thursdays from May to December, is located aboard the classic, historic wooden steamship, the Virginia V, docked at the Lake Union Park wharf.
“It’s the last mosquito ship still floating,” comments Petrone. “It’s a beautiful 125-foot boat that was built in 1922 and used to transport farm products and passengers to Seattle and Tacoma. It’s in wonderful condition because it’s been well taken care of. When you come to the market, you can take a free tour of the ship and learn all about its maritime heritage and history.”
The Virginia V Foundation, a non-profit formed to preserve the ship, acquired the vessel in 1980 after its previous owners, Puget Sound Excursion Company, found it increasingly difficult to maintain the vessel as a commercial venture.
It subsequently underwent a six-year major restoration to the tune of $6.5 million and was put back into service in 2002.
Today, it continues to provide public excursions, private charters and visits to local maritime festivals throughout the region.
Currently, there are about 15 vendors participating in the floating market aboard the boat, including BB Ranch, Wheatless in Seattle, Hart Coffee, Hayton Farms, Piper Creek Nursery, Market Pasta and more.
According to Petrone, many of the vendors are certified organic.
“We’ve got a nice variety of locally grown produce, specialty foods and artisan crafts,” he adds. “There’s something for everyone to enjoy. You can also buy your lunch right here or bring it from somewhere else and eat it on board the ship. It makes for a gorgeous picnic spot because you’re right on the water near where the seaplanes take off and land. And for kids, there’s even a twice-monthly story time session.”
A taco boat will soon be moored close to the Virginia V as an added venue, as well as a berry boat, which will cruise up and down Lake Union from Fremont to the UW, selling fresh berries.
“We’ve got a lot of ideas,” says Petrone, “and we’re looking ahead at future sites for floating markets in other places like Edmonds, Tacoma and Olympia. I think it’s going to really take off. Just the other week, we had more than 450 people stop by. We stopped counting after a while.” He adds, “People just love it because it’s such a fun and different concept for a farmers market.”
What: Lake Union Park Floating Market