Casper Babypants rocks the Market!

Hundreds of parents and young children flocked to the Mercer Island Farmers Market on Sunday to listen to the tunes of Casper Babypants.  They danced and sang to such classic songs as “Brown and Lonely Worm,” “The Island Hop” and “Stompy the Bear.”   Many of the songs are based on nursery rhymes and folks songs.

Families enjoying Casper Babypants at the Mercer Island Farmers Market

Casper Babypants is Chris Ballew, Kirkland native, dad and two-time nominated Grammy songwriter.  He is best known as a member of the local legendary rock band, The Presidents of the United States of America.  In 2009 Chris took a break from the band and began writing funny, great music for kids.  Over the past 4 years he has produced 5 albums and currently performs all over the Northwest.   This performance was made possible by the generous support of the Mercer Island Community Fund.  Thank you!

 

 

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Sunday September 9th at the Mercer Island Farmers Market, Caspar Baby Pants & Yammba Conga Drums

At 11:00 AM bring the small kids to sing and dance with Caspar Baby Pants. Caspar Babypants has another identify, Chris Ballew of The Presidents of the United States of America.  He is a charming and imaginative performer who engages children with simple, almost melodies and clever lyrics.  His influences range from Beethoven to The Beatles, to  traditional children’s tunes. THANKS TO THE MERCER ISLAND COMMUNITY FUND FOR SUPPORTING HIS APPEARANCE!  Listen here for a sample:

On the Music Stage lively rhythms continue with Yaamba Marimba Group playing Zimbabwean dance music Read more about Yaamba !

Visit the Children’s Booth to make Flower Prints & Collages

Enjoy great produce from Alvarez Organic Farms, Collins Family Orchard, Hedlin Family Farm, Kittitas Valley Greenhouse, Martins Family Orchard and Tonnemaker Family Orchard. Meet your friends for lunch and celebrate the summer.

Market Dinner Delicious Success

A Banquet to Behold:  Mercer Island Farmers Market Celebrates Successful Fundraising Dinner as It Readies for Fifth Season

It was a fundraiser. A celebration of the coming season.  A thank you to the volunteers and contributors who make the market possible.  And after dessert, when the last dinner guests had paid for their auction items and said their goodbyes, Julie Sarkissian could only smile, sit back and marvel at the success of the evening event.  Julie is the newly-elected Chair of the Mercer Island Farmers Market Board of Directors.  “Tonight I can sleep.  We all worked so hard to make this happen.  You worry about selling tickets, getting donations for the auction, making sure the chef and restaurant have everything they need from us.  And everything worked out wonderfully well.  The dinner and auction were a great success.”

One hundred supporters and guests attended the Market’s third Annual Celebration Dinner and Silent Auction at Lilly’s Restaurant at Aljoya Sunday, May 20.  Chef Nathan Zielske prepared a sumptuous feast, showcasing products donated from the Market vendors, Aljoya and the creative talents of his Lilly’s kitchen. Flower and herb-crusted salmon on green tea soba noodle salad; chicken breast baked with pistachio breadcrumb and Frangelico sauce, kale Caesar salad…yumm!

The silent auction before dinner drew spirited bidding, particularly for a number of showcase items.  The celebrity item had to have been the week’s stay in an Oahu condo overlooking the ocean.  Other showcase items, lovingly donated by local residents and merchants, included a homemade quilt, dinners at Roanoke Inn, John Howie Steaks and Dahlia Lounge, catering by Stopsky’s, tickets for the Mariners and Seattle Philharmonic, product potpourri from All The Best and Trader Joe’s, services from Uyeta Landscaping, to name a few.

“So much bidding enthusiasm”, pronounced Carol Branom, Market Board Treasurer. “So many appealing items were donated.  We exceeded our fundraising goal!  This is a great start for the season!”

Dinner guests included: State Representative Marcie Maxwell, a dedicate Market patron; King County Council Vice Chair Jane Hague, and Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett, whose wife Nannette is a Farmers Market Board Member.

This was the first public event of the Mercer Island Farmers Market for Patty Spahr, the new Market Manager.  “I am very excited to be working with these people”, she said, referring to the Board.  “So much energy and enthusiasm.  Now we turn our attention full time to Opening Day of the Market itself.  We have been planning and preparing for seven months.  Now our energy levels kick into high gear.”

Twenty-three vendors are returning from last year’s market and are being joined by 20 new vendors.

“We think our patrons will be very pleased with our product mix and with the quality of our vendors”, says Kari Fisher, Vice Chair of the Market Board.  “We survey our patrons and track what works or doesn’t work.  We attend ‘Marketing the Market’ seminars.  We want this to be our best season yet.”

The fifth season of the Mercer Island Farmers Market begins Sunday, June 10.  Market hours are 10am–3pm.  The Market is located near Mercerdale Park on 77th Avenue South and SE 32nd Street.  It will be there every Sunday through October 14, with the exceptions of July 15 and August 5.  For more information, go to the Mercer Island Farmers Market web site:  http://www.mifarmersmarket.org.

Link

What do you think?  You like? Check out our very own Mercer Island Farmers Market logo on the masthead – love that groovy sun!

We have been working hard all winter to put together another fabulous market season for you, so please, check back often to see what’s new. To kick off our fifth season (hard to believe it’s been five years!)  the third annual Celebration Dinner will be held Sunday, May 20.

Please join us for this special evening, a fundraiser, generously hosted by our friends at Aljoya.  Come support and meet the farmers and small business owners who deliver local, organic, fresh produce and prepared foods every week to the Mercer Island Farmers Market. Learn about the 2012 lineup of vendors, educational events and musical entertainment as Chef Nathan Zielski tantalizes your palate with a scrumptious dinner provided by Lilly’s Restaurant at Aljoya.  Tickets are $50, available at Eventbrite.

To purchase tickets, please click on this link: 3rd Annual MIFM Celebration Dinner

What else would you like to see on this blog?  Let us know, because we want this to be your go-to site for all things market related.

October 2nd Mercer Island Farmers Market Event News

This afternoon, a few of us were thrilled to hear on University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass‘s weather segment on KPLU that the weather on Sunday is supposed to be the nicest for the next week: partly sunny and in the 60s. As the volunteers at the Mercer Island Farmers Market have put together a full set of fun and educational activities for our community, this is great news for them and their farmers. So come down to the MI Farmers Market this Sunday to enjoy the weather and the farmers market.

Power Hour

"Early Bird" shopper picking up some free coffee during the Mercer Island Farmers Market's Power Hour.

An "early bird" shopper picking up some free coffee during the Mercer Island Farmers Market's Power Hour on July 17, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

For the first hour of the MIFM from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., we will have another Power Hour, when volunteers will be serving free coffee to our farmers, volunteers, and community. We hope that this morning jolt of caffeine will help “power” everyone through the five hours that the market is open.

The Power Hour is sponsored by Mercer Islander Helen Martin. Many in our community know Helen from her extensive volunteer activities ranging from the Mercer Island Rotary to serving on the Mercer Island Arts Council. Thank you, Helen, for your support of the Mercer Island Farmers Market and for sponsoring the Power Hour.

Music

This Sunday, Jazz Connection will be performing at the Mercer Island Farmers Market. All of us—the farmers, the volunteers, and the community members—look forward to hearing this sextet perform jazz standards, blues, and original compositions.

Chef Demonstration

Chef Shane Robinson of Stopsky's Delicatessen explaining in more detail a cooking technique to a Mercer Islander after a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on June 19, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Chef Shane Robinson of Stopsky's Delicatessen explaining in more detail a cooking technique to a Mercer Islander after a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on June 19, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

At noon, Shane Robinson, executive chef at Stopsky’s Delicatessen, and his team are planning to return to the MI Farmers Market for the second time this market season to do a chef demo.

They are planning to make their heirloom tomato salad with cucumbers and olive tapenade. Be sure to join us to learn how to make this dish.

The folks from Stopsky’s will also be bringing some of this fresh salad from their kitchen just up the street for our community to sample.

We also understand that they are now open for dinner Monday through Saturday.

Children’s Table

This Sunday, Judy Witmer is planning to bring an apple press for the Kid’s Table. This will be a great way for our community’s children to learn about how apple cider is made.

Rockridge Orchards' apple cider at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 3, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Rockridge Orchards' apple cider at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 3, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

After using the apple press at the Children’s Table, plan to walk over to the Rockridge Orchards’ booth where Shawn and Leslie will be sampling cider as well as able to answer your questions about their giant apple press for making their products.

Mercer Island Farmers Market Manager’s Most Memorable Market Moments

Edee Phillips, the market manager of the Mercer Island Farmers Market, at the market on June 21, 2009.

Edee Phillips, the market manager of the Mercer Island Farmers Market, at the market on June 21, 2009. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

As there is no Mercer Island Farmers Market tomorrow as our community’s big Summer Celebration is going on at the northend of Mercerdale Park, we thought that we would take this opportunity to pause and ask our beloved market manager, Edee Phillips, for her most memorable moments from the past few years of the market.

Edee was a key volunteer in the small group that worked on starting the market and, then in 2008, became the MI Farmers Market’s first, and so far, only market manager.

When we asked her for her single most memorable moment, Edee couldn’t come up with just one. “I have so many favorite moments. But I have to say that a few rise to the very top of the list…”

NUMBER ONE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: OPENING DAY 2008

Edee’s overall most memorable moment was the MI Farmers Market’s very first Opening Day, August 10, 2008. For her, the whole experience “…was a bit like giving birth: a long awaited day with months of work put into the creation.”

After months of what seemed like endless conversations, emails, paperwork, and meetings with farmers, the city, and volunteers, and only having the vaguest hopes for success, Edee can still clearly see in her mind’s eye the vendors showing up early in the morning and setting up for the first time. The way that she describes that morning makes it sound as if it seemed almost miraculous to her that the farmers were actually about to start selling their produce at the northend of Mercerdale Park. We all know that it wasn’t a miracle that made that day happen, but the hard work of Edee and so many others.

The Phillips Family: Ari, Eli, Dave, Edee, and Leo (from left to right) at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in June 2009.

The Phillips Family: Ari, Eli, Dave, Edee, and Leo (from left to right) at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in June 2009. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Family is what ultimately made an already extraordinary day for Edee that much more special and her number one Mercer Island Farmers Market most memorable moment. “The very best part of that whole day was to see my family there because they came up to me looking so proud, gave me a hugs and said, ‘Mom, look at what you did!’…The way that they all looked at me made me prouder at that moment then any other I can remember!”

MOST MEMORABLE VENDOR MOMENT: PULLING TOGETHER LIKE FAMILY

In October of last year, for sudden and unexpected family reasons, Edee had to fly out of town less than two hours after the end of one of the markets. What could have been an extremely stressful and difficult market moment turned into one of Edee’s favorites.

Farmer Kai Ottoson of Hedlin Family Farm, Mount Vernon, WA hard at work setting up tables of produce at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in 2009.

Farmer Kai Ottoson of Hedlin Family Farm, Mount Vernon, WA hard at work setting up tables of produce at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in 2009. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Before the market opened that day, Edee quietly explained to all of the vendors her need to catch a flight that left soon after the market closed and that it would be extremely helpful to her if, that afternoon at market close, all of them could make an extra push to break down their booths and clear the streets as soon as possible. Over the years, Edee’s dedication to supporting these local farmers and constant striving to create a sense of community among them has been one of her hallmarks as market manager. That day, the vendors really came through, like a true family would. “Not only did I make it out of there in record time, but when the vendors were driving out, they found me to wish me a safe trip and to wish my family all the best. Their actions and kind words made me realize and appreciate the wonderful friends and relationships that I had made while working at the Market.”

MOST MEMORABLE CUSTOMER MOMENT: THE ANONYMOUS DONORS

Edee’s most memorable customer moment is from October 17, 2010, the last regular market day last year.

Many of our customers and community members know that the majority of the financial resources to run the MI Farmers Market come from the fees that the vendors pay for their booths. These fees are a difficult balancing act for the MIFM. Like all farmers markets, we try both to generate enough financial resources to be vibrant and sustainable ourselves and, at the same time, to have the fees low enough so that local farmers are able to keep as much of their daily sales as possible and remain vibrant and sustainable themselves.

Sommer-Rae Simonson, a vendor and Mercer Islander, enjoying watermelon during market set-up at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in 2010.

Sommer-Rae Simonson, a vendor and Mercer Island resident, enjoying some watermelon before the market opening at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in September of 2010. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Last fall, an anonymous couple, who are dedicated MI Farmers Market shoppers and aware of this balancing act, made a generous contribution to the market that paid for all of the vendors fees for the final market day that season. Edee is still awed by this act. “I can not forget about this generous donation…it allowed our vendors to leave at the end of the day without having to pay any fees. All of our vendors wanted to know who they were so that they could tell them how amazing their gesture was and they all wanted to give product to them!” As these anonymous donors’ identity has never been revealed, they never received the products that the vendors wanted to give them as thanks. While they might remain anonymous, they also remain dear to Edee and the entire MIFM community.

Darrell Westover of Westover Farms, Maple Valley, WA at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in 2009.

Darrell Westover of Westover Farms, Maple Valley, WA holding a heart-shaped tomato at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in 2009. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Edee finished her thoughts on this memorable moment by asking, “Where else does something like this happen?” Our market manager asks a very good question. We have asked around the state’s farmers market community and, to date, we have not heard of another instance of this kind of marvelous support for local direct-market farmers. It truly is a memorable moment not just for the Mercer Island Farmers Market, but for the wider local agriculture community.

If you have a Mercer Island Farmers Market memorable moment or two, please let us know. We would love to know what memories of the MI Farmers Market you treasure most.

Thank You to Some of the Mercer Island Farmers Market Sponsors

Cheryl Marshall, a member of the Mercer Island Farmers Market board, taking a moment to enjoy the bouquets at one of the market's flower vendors.

Cheryl Marshall, a member of the Mercer Island Farmers Market board, taking a moment to enjoy the bouquets at one of the market's flower vendors. (Photo by Alyssa Hatsukami)

Today, while we take a break this week for Summer Celebration, the Mercer Island Reporter published a thank you from the Mercer Island Farmers Market board to some of the sponsors of the 2011 market season:

There is so much that is needed to run a successful farmers market starting with wonderful local farmers, a great market manager, dozens of dedicated volunteers, and thousands of customers hungry for fresh, local produce.

Titan cherries from Collins Family Orchard, Selah, WA at the Mercer Island Farmers Market.

Titan cherries from Collins Family Orchard, Selah, WA at the Mercer Island Farmers Market. (Photo by Alyssa Hatsukami)

It also takes community groups and businesses like Aljoya House, Lilly’s Restaurant, the Mercer Island Community Fund, and the Mercer Women’s Club to provide much needed financial resources as well as in-kind and intangible support through their deep ties to our wonderful community.

Turnips from Hand-Farmed Organics, Fall City, WA at the Mercer Island Farmers Market.

Turnips from Hand-Farmed Organics, Fall City, WA at the Mercer Island Farmers Market. (Photo by Alyssa Hatsukami)

Thank you to these businesses and groups and to all that make our farmers market a success.