Northwest NEWS

June 10, 2002

Front Page

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Farmers market finds new digs for 2003

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   Woodinville Farmers Market is finally getting a home of its own.
   This season will be the market's last at the Sorenson School parking lot on Northeast 175th Street. Next year, the market will move to its new location on Northeast 171st Street, adjacent to the Zante farm.
   The market will also be open on Fridays and Saturdays next year.
   "We've been working for two years to come up with a permanent site," said Julie Davidson, volunteer for the market. "We looked around the community and realized that one of the best sites was owned by King County."
   Davidson said Woodinville Farmers Market would enter into a concession agreement with the county. The agreement calls for a rental fee plus a percentage of proceeds to be paid to King County.
   "But we can offset those costs by any capital improvements made to the site," said Davidson.
   It just so happens that Friends of the Woodinville Farmers Market came into a little money recently. They received a $23,000 grant from the state Department of Agriculture.
   The money, said Davidson, will be used for initial site-development, such as grading the site to make it pedestrian-friendly, adding walkways and a parking lot.
   The familiar white tents used by vendors will eventually be replaced by a permanent wooden structure similar to the one at the Redmond market. They also hope to have restrooms and coolers for produce on-site.
   And plans are underway to turn a half-acre of the land into a "pea patch" for the community, she said.
   "It's a wonderful agricultural use for protected agricultural land," Davidson said. "(The new market) will be a great adjunct to the community. It fits in perfectly with the tourist district."
   Market Manager Grant Davidson said the vision was to feature the farmer more, to have a wider variety of farmers.
   "We'd like to offer anything from mushrooms to hot house tomatoes to lettuces, in addition to the usual corn, beans and broccoli," said Mr. Davidson. "But the emphasis will be on the farmer and value-added products.
   "For example, we could have an herb grower who uses the herbs to make vinegar. We currently have a farmer who grows wheat, grinds the grain and makes the bread she sells. That's what I mean by 'value added,'" he said.
   "We'd also like to have farm-fresh milk and eggs," he said, "and one or two small specialty cheese makers. In two weeks, we hope to have someone who brings in crab and halibut. We're talking about a person who catches his own fish, on his own boat, then processes it himself.
   "Right now, we have a honey vendor who has his own hives and provides a wide variety of honey, such as blackberry, fire weed and maple."
   According to Mr. Davidson, the aim of the Woodinville Farmers Market is to create a market that focuses on the farmer, one that creates a direct-selling outlet for farmers.
   What the small farmer has to sell, said Mr. Davidson, is not what one can get from Dairigold or Carnation or Tillamook. What a small farmer has to sell is fresh local produce, he said.
   "By buying from small farmers," Mr. Davidson said, "you support the individual farmer, you get fresh produce and you know it's fresh you help the state economy, and you help small farmers generally.
   "When a farmer goes to a large supermarket to sell his lettuce, he may get 20 cents a head. Then the store turns around and sells it for, say, 99 cents a head. The farmer never realizes the value of his product.
   "We hope our market will allow farmers to get the full price for their products. It's the only way they can survive. And I think the public will be very supportive of it," he said.
   "(The farmers market) is a wonderful little subculture," said Julie Davidson, "that fits in so well with Woodinville, 'County living, city style.'"