Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the Enumclaw Plateau Farmer’s Market has announced that this year was a hit.
“I would rate the market this year as an outstanding success against the spreading pandemic,” said Lance Smith, the EPFM secretary. “We never had a closed Thursday in our season this year due to positive cases, extreme weather, or fire smoke.”
Of course, this year certainly didn’t resemble the last, and business was certainly slower.
In an email interview, the nonprofit announced they had just under $73,000 in sales between June and September. Out of that, $34,000 in sales went toward local meats and produce.
This is a precipitous drop from last year’s sales totals. According to a 2019 EPFM report, the farmer’s market saw just under $119,000 in total sales last year, with just over $52,000 of that going toward meats and produce.
The number of vendors that attended the market also dropped, from an average of 22 last year to an average of 11 in 2020.
It’s unclear how many customers attended the market last year, since there was no need for EPFM to record how many people were coming and going.
This year, though, was a different matter, as the market had to keep strict track of how many people were shopping at the market at one time. In doing so, they discovered more than 4,318 people visited the market this last season, with an average of 266 per market day.
All this isn’t discouraging EPFM from coming back for next year, though.
“By all attempts, there will be a 2021 market,” Smith said. “Will it be designed and operated like 2020? Only time will tell what the public health regulations will set as standards and what the county’s case numbers will be next June.”
One major goal of the market for next year will be to allow people with food stamps — otherwise known as SNAP — to spend their benefits at the market.
EPFM applied for that opportunity this last season, but was denied.
“EPFM will reapply for our 2021 season in hopes it will be accepted,” Smith said. “We did have produce farmers (vendors) authorized to accept Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants, as well as Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) recipients.”
The market organizers are also planning a fall “Edible Enumclaw” fundraising event, with additional details to come.
Of course, a farmer’s market is more than just business and money — it’s a monumental effort taken on by people all across the Plateau.
“We had over 2,150 volunteer hours so far in 2020 by over 30 individuals. We are thinking that this number is still very much on the low side as our tracking tools haven’t been able to capture every single minute that the board and volunteers and myself have spent making the market happen,” said Liz Clark, the market manager. “The market is very much a year-round endeavor and we are anticipating going over 2,200 hours most likely for the year.”
Clark also thanked Jake Devaney Customer Farming, Ritter Farms, Chance LaFleur at Preferred Capital Management, Paddy Irwin at Lewis-Irwim Farms, the city of Enumclaw, and various Enumclaw residents for helping place banners around the city; the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce for the safety vests that volunteers wore; Big Mountain Enterprises for loaning the market the traffic barrels for traffic control; Tractor Supply for loaning additional equipment; the Washington Farm Bureau and King County for the free face masks and sanitizer; the Washington State Farmers Market Association; and Anne Gannom at Enumclaw’s Country Financial in Enumclaw for sponsoring the market.