CORRECTIONS: In the previous version of this article, Rain City Greens was misnamed as Rainier City Greens. Additionally, Fantello Creamery is the host of the REKO Market, but not a founder. The article has been updated.
Fans of fresh food, flowers, and other farmer’s market fare will be happy to know Enumclaw’s REKO Market will continue to operate through the fall.
An alternative to traditional farmer’s markets, the REKO Market (which stands for rejäl konsumtion in Swedish, or reilua kuluttamista in Finnish, both meaning “fair consumption”) allows people to pre-order their produce and pick it up at a later date, meaning there’s very little human contact — perfect for the world of COVID-19.
In fact, the pandemic was the reason why Julie Kintzi and other local food producers decided to form their own REKO market, which is popular over the Atlantic, but less so in America.
“It was uncertain if farmers markets would start this year or what they would look like,” Kintzi said in a previous interview.
Since the REKO Market started last May, the group has grown to more than 1,300 members on its Facebook page, though that doesn’t mean every person shops at the market every week.
The market has also added a few vendors since spring, and now have a total of 10, with offerings from fresh greens from Cascadia Greens and Rain City Greens, baked goods from The Baker’s Cookie and Revival Bakery, an assortment of cheeses from Fantello Creamery, berries and honey from Sidhu’s Farm, flowers and squash from Twinkletoes Farm, and much more.
The market “has been tremendous for us,” said Paul Fantello, co-owner of Fantello Creamery and the business that hosts the market. “We’ve been able to reach so many people, local, through this REKO market. It’s been a game changer.”
Fantello normally sells their products to restaurants, PCC, or Pike Place Market, though they have wanted to have more of a local presence. Last year, they joined the Enumclaw Farmer’s Market, but because of COVID, they decided to go with REKO this year.
“This created a whole new market for us,” Fantello continued, noting that the certainty of how much he sells during the week and the small window of time people pick up products allows the creamery to do more of what they do best — make cheese. “People seem to enjoy the availability of being able to pull up to a certain location, they don’t have to leave their vehicles, and have their products that they would traditionally get at a farmer’s market actually put into their vehicle for them, and they can just exit right out the driveway.”
Traci Knight of Revival Bakery doesn’t have her own storefront — she just takes private orders — so having the REKO Market model available to her has allowed her to extend her reach in a way she never could before.
“As far as the market itself and the business model, it’s great. It’s pre-sale, so I don’t have to produce an indiscriminate amount,” she said, noting that she bakes out of a certified kitchen rather than in her own space. “I can just produce what I need, and I know that it’s sold.”
Knight also said she enjoys how easy it is to give customers their orders, specifically mentioning that everyone is masked and gloved for extra safety.
The market’s current plan, Kintzi said, is to stay open until Thanksgiving with holiday-themed goods and then close through the winter to get organized for next year.
“We’re going to see, from week to week,” Kintzi said. “[Sales] went up really high in August, and now they’ve tapered down a little bit, so I’m hoping they go back up.”
HOW TO SHOP AT REKO
Shopping at the market is simple, and you start by becoming a member of the Enumclaw REKO Market Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/528024898100679/.
Once a member, users can see producers post various items for sale. Users then post their order in the comment section of the post with an email so the producers can contact them for payment. Orders are due noon on Fridays.
Once the products are ordered and paid for, users then visit Fantello Creamery (39719 236th Ave S.E. Enumclaw) between 2 and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday to pick up their order.
Like a farmer’s market, the food you’re buying is from licensed farmers and producers — hobby farmers are not allowed.
It should be noted that the Enumclaw REKO Market Facebook page removes posts after orders are completed and the week is finished, in order to cause no confusion as to what products are being offered in the current week.