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Time for a new direction with farmers market
It was beginning to look like Enumclaw was going to have its own weekly seasonal farmers market by 2011, but a dearth of interested food vendors has derailed that possibility. Yes, our Plateau is farming country but, surprisingly, there are only a few small farms growing produce.
In 2008, more than 500 Enumclaw residents were surveyed for what they wanted in a farmers market; 98 percent requested fresh veggies and fruits, without chemicals on them or in the soil, as their top priority. If it is called a farmers market, they do not want it to be a part of a flea market, a garage sale, a craft market, a street fair, a circus or an opening event for dog and horse shows. Shoppers want to purchase a variety of quality food directly from growers, on their way home to refrigerate it.
Late last fall, GRCC Enumclaw Campus agreed to contract with the Enumclaw Plateau Farmers’ Market to use the GRCC parking lot when school is closed on Fridays. Six years ago, Department of Transportation statistics showed 6,000 commuters stopped at the Griffin-Porter stoplight on Friday afternoons. The landmark site is also easy access for walkers, bikers and strollers. Volume of potential shoppers is essential to sustain any farmers market. Undoubtedly this location could revitalize the downtown economy. Bravo GRCC, we applaud you as the first community organization to provide solid market support.
Within the past decade there have been two prior attempts for an Enumclaw market. A major learning gleaned from them for this third try is that an abundance of diverse, fresh food must be at market weekly for shoppers to continually return. Of a recent vendor questionnaire to 200 food growers within 100 miles, only a handful expressed tentative interest in participating in an Enumclaw farmers market. Conclusion? It’s time to begin a Plateau Food Growers Association that draws new farmers to the area, as well as connects and strengthens those already farming here. It is also time for Plateau residents to grow more food on the fertile land that still surrounds us. The quality of our future and a strong local economy is literally in our own back yard.