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Arlington Farmers Market wraps up for the year | SLIDESHOW

ARLINGTON — The Arlington Farmers Market has nearly doubled in size since last year and it’s final week this season was no exception.

Pleasant weather and sunny skies on Sept. 1 helped fill the grassy area at Legion Park that is host to the six-year-old market, for its last day of 2012. The market will open again in 2013.

“The city asked us to move to the park because we grew so much,” said Samantha Schuller, volunteer coordinator for the market. “The visitors like it, the vendors like it. It’s great.”

This year was a great success for the market, which averaged between 600 and 1,000 visitors each day, according to Schuller. “This year we added a couple of new vendors, including a cheesecake vendor that people really love and a lot more produce vendors,” she said.

Jessica Feliciano owns Cheesecake Ever After with her husband John, and she is glad to sell her products at the market.

“I absolutely love it, we’ve been having a blast,” she said. “I really feel like I’m part of the community, which is an important part of my business.”

Farmers Market volunteers are hoping that with an increase in attendance there will also be an increase in vendors. “We are really hoping for dairy and meat vendors next year. For people selling ‘high-risk foods’ like meat and dairy, the Department of Health requires that they pay for permits to sell at the market. They can be expensive, sometimes up to $1,000. They have to justify selling for a market. Now that our numbers are getting higher and higher, it’s a possibility. We just need people to come through.”

For some, the size of the market is perfect.

“I sell exclusively at the Arlington Farmers Market,” said Karen Lindsay, owner of Shoebox Baking Company, where she sells baked goods. “It’s the right price and it’s just the right length of time. It’s perfect for me.”

This year also brought a shorter selling season for market vendors. “Last year we had a 17-week season and this year we had a nine-week season,” said Schuller. “Weather really affects things. On cloudy days or really hot days we’d get around 600 people. On pleasant days we’d get more than 1,000. In June and also in fall toward October there are a lot more cloudy days. We decided to focus on days when the weather would be more pleasant.”

The change has been beneficial to vendors who see it as a cost-effective way of organizing the market.

“This is supposed to be an opportunity for small businesses to thrive,” said Schuller. “The vendors have liked it because they don’t risk going home with less money.”

Garden Treasures is a farm and nursery in Arlington which began the market at Legion Park in 2007. Owners Mark and Patricia Lovejoy still sell their produce there.

“The market is a lot busier, there’s a lot more people than there used to be,” said Mark Lovejoy, who also noted that he liked the shorter selling season. “It allows me to get back to the farm and begin harvesting crops for the fall.”

Vendors aren’t alone in their love for the market.

“I come here every week,” said Arlington resident Kim Delker. “I love everything they have. Today, I got the bread, some crafts, flowers and doggie treats.” Kim Delker invited her sister Danyel Delker to the market, from her home in Woodinville. “I really like it. There is a lot of good stuff,” Danyel Delker said.

As of Sept. 1 the Arlington Farmers Market was the front-runner in the Washington State division of “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” contest hosted by the American Farmland Trust. “That’s really exciting, although we are being closely trailed by the Ballard Farmers Market,” Scholler said.

On the last day of the 2012 season, the market added some extra features to show appreciation for vendors and community members alike.

“We have a bouncy house for kids, and we always have a free kids activity. We are pretty oriented toward families,” said Schuller. “This week we have nice weather, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Going into the winter and the next Farmers Market season, Schuller and fellow coordinator Audrey Houston look forward to supporting locals as well as receiving input on how to improve.

“If you really want something to change, tell us and we can make it happen. We are looking forward to thoroughly enjoying an increase in community awareness and support,” said Schuller. “We are hoping to make it an opportunity to move more local foods to local families.”

Although the Farmers Market won’t return until next summer, the organizers still host events in the fall and winter. “In winter, we hold our handmade holiday, the same Saturday as the city of Arlington’s Hometown Holidays is going on,” said Schuller. Market coordinators are in the process of planning a movie screening for sometime this fall, although the date has yet to be determined.

For those interested in learning more about the Arlington Farmers Market or how to volunteer go to www.arlingtonfarmersmarket.blogspot.com or find them on Facebook.

 

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