On Sunday, the Mercer Island Farmers Market not only had tables overflowing with beautiful, local produce but also had an abundance of wonderful activities and events.
An "Early Bird" shopper picking up some free coffee and pastries during the Mercer Island Farmers Market's Power Hour. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., we started off with a “bang” when we had free coffee and pastries at the Information Booth for the MI Farmers Market’s “early bird” shoppers. The “Power Hour” is a small reward for those dedicated customers who come during the market’s first hour. This market season the Mercer Island Farmers Market extended its hours by opening an hour earlier than previous years. We hope that our customers are enjoying the extra time to shop. Some of you have even suggested to us that we open even earlier at 9 a.m. Please let us know what you think of the market’s extended hours by posting a comment below. We can also be reached at info (at) mifarmersmarket.org.
This month’s power hour was sponsored by MIFM board member and long-time volunteer Tanya Bednarski and her family. We wish to extend our thanks to the Bednarski-Johnson family for the many ways that they support our organization.
Mercer Island Sister City Association Chef Tour
The outdoor market in Thonon-les-bains, France in May, 2009. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
At 10:30 a.m., chef, food writer, and cookbook-author Sharon Kramis led a group of fifteen curious and hungry Islanders on a tour of the MI Farmers Market. This chef tour was organized by the Mercer Island Sister City Association (MISCA) to reflect the shopping habits and cooking traditions of our community’s French sister city, Thonon-les-bains, which has the largest outdoor market in its region (Haute Savoie) with well over one hundred merchants.
Chef Sharon Kramis buying some rainbow chard and greens at Five Acre Farm's booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
With a meal in mind that they would prepare together just after the tour, Ms. Kramis and the group stopped by many of the booths, talked with the farmers, and purchased carefully selected fresh fruits and vegetables. We are so pleased that the MISCA chose to tour the MIFM as one of their activities.
Later this week, we plan to post on this blog some more photos of the chef tour as well as photos of the cooking demonstration and meal at Island House. So please plan to come back to this blog to read more about this event.
If your group would like to hold a tour of the Mercer Island Farmers Market, please contact us at info (at) mifarmersmarket.org or 206-235-1185.
All market day, the Mercer Island Farmers Market vendors, volunteers, and customers were entertained by musician Patrick Daughtery. To Islanders, this was no surprise as Patrick is a wonderful performer, who is well-known not only from previous performances at the market, but also from his many years of performing on the Island and in the region.
Patrick Daughtery performing a song with John Morris at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 17, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
However, Patrick did have a few surprises for us: guest performers. He was joined for a few songs by several other performers during the day including John Morris of Swamp Soul, which performed later Sunday evening at Mercerdale Park as part of Mercer Island’s Mostly Music in the Park summer series. Among the other unexpected guest performers was one of the MI Farmers Market’s vendors, Lorraine Ford of Two If By Seafoods, who performed a lovely duet with Patrick late in the market day.
The Flash Family Inspiration Award
Fran Call accepting the Flash Family Inspiration Award from Mayor Jim Pearman at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 17, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
At noon, several dozen Mercer Islanders gathered to celebrate resident Fran Call receiving the 2011 Flash Family Inspiration Award. Mayor Jim Pearman presented the award to Ms. Call to honor her thirteen years of volunteer work at the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Department, where she has created a program leading hikes in Seattle and its suburbs. During this period, over 200 Islanders have participated in these hikes.
The event was full of laughter and humor. Ms. Call is a former Mercer Island Middle School teacher, and, during the presentation, Mayor Pearman, a graduate of the Mercer Island public schools, and Ms. Call joked that he could have been one of her students. But there were also serious moments during the event, particularly when Mayor Pearman discussed his recent heart attack and the value of Ms. Call’s long-time efforts promoting health and exercise.
The Mercer Island Farmers Market congratulates Ms. Call on her much-deserved award.
The Mercer Island Visual Arts League (MIVAL) booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 17, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
Youth Theater Northwest booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 17, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
This week the Mercer Island Visual Arts League (MIVAL) and Youth Theater Northwest (YTN) had booths at the MIFM as part of our community-service/non-profit outreach program.
Both MIVAL and YTN have been pillars of the Mercer Island arts community for many years.
MIVAL has also been a wonderful partner for the Mercer Island Farmers Market by jurying our first-ever poster contest earlier this year. We look forward to working with them on future poster contests as well as other projects.
Youth Theater Northwest and the MI Farmers Market share similar missions in that they both seek to educate our community’s young people: YTN on the arts; and the MIFM on health and local agriculture. So we really appreciated an opportunity to host another Mercer Island organization that strives to improve the lives of Mercer Island’s youth.
Judy Witmer digging for earthworms at the Kids Table with one of the Mercer Island Farmers Market's young customers. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
Volunteer Judy Witmer once again created another wonderful educational experience for our younger shoppers. Sunday’s farmers market’s kids table was dedicated to learning all about earthworms and the important role that they play in maintaining the health our soil.
A big “thank you” to Judy for all that she does for our farmers market and for helping to educate our community’s young people.
Among the many vendor highlights from Sunday’s market was the return of Billy’s Organic Garden, Tonasket, WA, and the first MIFM market days for two new-to-our-market farms: the River Farm Organic Produce, Ellensburg, WA; and Tonnemaker Family Orchard, Royal City, WA.
Billy's Organic Garden booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 17, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
Billy’s came with an large variety of organic produce, including apricots, arugula, blueberrries, herbs, and tomatoes. Billy’s was one of the most popular farmer-vendors at last year’s Mercer Island Farmers Market. We know how much our customers are waiting with great anticipation for their organic peaches and peppers as well as for their organic heirloom tomatoes to begin arriving in greater numbers and varieties as the weather gets hotter.
Jerry, owner of the River Farm Organic Product, waiting on customers at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 17, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
On Sunday, due to the poor growing season, the River Farm was able to come to the MIFM with only a few products: cabbage, peas, zucchini, and zucchini blossoms. But even this limited product still proved popular and demonstrated the farm’s commitment to producing quality organic fruits and vegetables. Depending on how the rest of the growing season works out, Jerry, the owner of the River Farm, plans to bring to our market chickens, eggs, melons, and peppers. We hear from our customers that have purchased Jerry’s melons at other area farmers markets that his melons are the most delicious around. Let’s all hope that the days and nights out in Ellensburg get hotter than they have been so that his heat-loving melons can grow and ripen so that we can get a chance to try them ourselves.
The Tonnemaker Family Orchard booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 17, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
Tonnemakers is well-known for their huge variety of tree fruit (they have well-over 100 different varieties). This past Sunday, the Mercer Island Farmers Market’s customers got just a small taste, literally, of this diversity. Among the produce that they brought to the MIFM were three kinds of cherries: Rainier, Sandra Rose, and Sonata. Like Billy’s and the River Farm, Tonnemaker’s diversity of product should increase in the weeks and months ahead. So plan to head to the Mercer Island Farmers Market weekly to find the freshest, local produce around.
The Mercer Island Farmers Market still does not have its full complement of farmers yet. Later this year as their produce comes into season, we expect to welcome back to the Mercer Island Farmers Market two popular tree-fruit farmers:
- Booth Canyon Orchard, Carlton, WA, whose organic apples, pears, and plums were very popular at the MIFM in 2009. Due to a storm that destroyed a large portion of their crop last year, they couldn’t attend our market. We look forward to their return sometime in September; and
- Jones Creek Farm, Sedro-Woolley, WA, whose organic apples, plums, and garlic have been a mainstay of the MI Farmers Market since our first season. We look forward to their return sometime next month.