The MIFM Board is hosting this evening to say “thank you” to our wonderful community of volunteers, supporters and friends. There will be food, fun and a chance to sample beer and wine from local vendors. We will also be kicking off our Fall campaign to become a “Friend of the Market”. We rely on the generous support of local businesses and individual donors to keep this important neighborhood resource thriving and growing. By becoming a Friend of the Market, you will help us ensure another great season of food, farms and friends. We hope to see you there! Let us know you plan to attend clicking here: RSVP Oktoberfrest
October 14 is Vendor & Volunteer Appreciation Day– We extend our deepest appreciation and thanks to the great businesses and individuals who’ve supported the market this season. Without you, there is no market!
- Breakfast for Vendors, sponsored by the MIFM Board of Directors
- Volunteers will be treated to shopping discounts by most of our vendors. Volunteers, report to the Information Booth to get started.
At the Children’s Table: Decorating Pumpkin Heads a favorite of the kids (and some adults).
- Special thanks to JUDY WITMER who has voluntarily organized and run the Children’s Table for 5 Years!
On the Music Stage: Strange Nails – Alternative / Soul / Funk
The Harvest Market returns on Sunday November 18th. You’ll find many things you need for Thanksgiving dinner including cranberries. NEW this year the vendor mix will include local artists & artisans who create the very highest quality arts and crafts.
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.
Ever wondered what it would be like to volunteer at a farmers market? Mercer Island Farmers Market only happens because of volunteers like YOU who donate a few hours of their time to set up, take down, and take on all sorts of other jobs, like floating, counting, flagging and controlling.
I used to be a flag girl in high school (officially known as color guard, which is the only thing that could possibly improve the Mercer Island High School Marching Band, but I digress), and I can count, and my children will attest to my controlling nature. I bet I’d be a swell market volunteer! But I don’t know how to float, so I guess I’ll need to go the training. Come join me!
Volunteer Training and Information meetings are next week at the Mercer Island Library, conveniently scheduled for next Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. and Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m.
Market experts will teach you what is required to act as a floater, a flagger, a street controller, a counter and a general booth volunteer. (Flagging and street control need to be at least 18 years old.) Bring your calendar, so that you can see the available openings, and sign up. Special tasting treats for all who attend!
Questions? Contact Tanya Bednarski, email@example.com
We had great weather for the August 28th Mercer Island Farmers Market—blue skies, 80°F temperatures… And our customers came out in droves not only to purchase fresh, local fruits and vegetables, but also to be part of the fun.
Music and Dancing
Matt Lome, Mercer Island musician and teacher, returned for an encore performance on Sunday. The last time he played at the MIFM was June when the weather was unseasonably cool and he had to wear a heavy coat. He still did a wonderful job entertaining farmers, volunteers and shoppers.
This past Sunday with the great weather Matt was able to be much more relaxed and to wear shorts and a t-shirt. While the weather and his clothing might have been different, his music was as entertaining as ever. It even inspired some of our youngest shoppers to dance.
Sophie Feldman, a student of Matt’s, was a big hit when she played at the MI Farmers Market in June. We are very happy that she agreed to return for an encore performance at the Mercer Island Farmers Market.
We know that our customers were quite happy as well as she too inspired dancing among our youngest shoppers.
Thank you, Matt and Sophie, for coming back the MI Farmers Market and doing such a great job entertaining everyone. We hope that you will come back to play next market season.
Sampling Table: Peaches and Nectarines
Susie Rosenstein and Mindy Landsman, who are tireless Mercer Island Farmers Market volunteers as well as MIFM board members, put together a sampling table to help educate our shoppers about the different varieties of peaches and nectarines available.
Susie reports our customers had an overwhelmingly positive response to the sweet stone fruit. “The only other times I have experienced such interest in the sampling was when we were sampling ice cream and baked goods from the market. Tanya [Bednarski, Susie’s partner in organizing the sampling events] and I used to say that nothing attracts the crowds like sugar and butter. Well, I guess we need to add peaches and nectarines to our list.”
Mindy related that one customer said that the peaches were so sweet that “they tasted like candy” to which Susie replied, “healthy candy.” Well, I guess we know why the sampling of peaches and nectarines was so popular.
Thank you, Susie and Mindy, for organizing such a successful event. And thank you Billy’s Organic Garden, Tonasket, WA, Collins Family Orchard, Selah, WA, Martin Family Orchard, Orondo, WA, and Tonnemaker Family Orchard, Royal City, WA for donating peaches and nectarines for the sampling table. Billy’s donated Red Haven peaches; Collins donated Sun Crest peaches and Honey Blaze nectarines; Martin donated Rosa Hale peaches and Red Gold nectarines; and Tonnemaker donated Delps peaches and Yellow Flesh nectarines.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
We got such a great reaction to our post on the most memorable market momentsof our market manager, Edee Phillips, that we thought that today we would do another collection of these special times at the MI Farmers Market. We have another memorable market moment from Edee, plus one from MIFM board member and treasurer, Julie Sarkasian, and one from MIFM board member and president, Joel Wachs.
EDEE’S SECOND FAVORITE CUSTOMER MOMENT: THE SURPRISE GIFT
Over the years, Edee has seen relationships develop and deepen between Mercer Islanders and the market’s farmers. This was one of the fondest hopes of the organizers of the MIFM when the market started in 2008. While Edee was aware of many of these relationships, she didn’t realize how strong some had become.
One of the market days in the fall of last year, Edee was walking through the market and saw a long-time, dedicated MIFM customer at the booth of Martin Family Orchards, Orondo, WA. Martin Family Orchards is one of the original vendors at the market and year-after-year our customers line up to buy their delicious tree fruit. While seeing the long-time customer at the booth wasn’t anything extraordinary, what stopped Edee in her tracks and was extraordinary was that this customer was giving a gift to the Martin Family employee. Edee says, “The employee was looking at me like she could not believe what was happening. She later explained to me that the weekend prior, her back was hurting her so badly that she was asking customers and fellow vendors if anyone had ibuprofen or tylenol. Well this market day, the first one after her back problems, the customer had come back to the MI Farmers Market with a special herbal-flax-seed-filled hot-cold pack for her.” It was quite a touching moment for the vendor, who told Edee that she works at manyfarmers markets throughout the region and something like this had never happened to her before. It was a touching moment for Edee as well–and one that has become one of her most memorable market moments, because our market manager has worked so hard to build ties between Mercer Island and farmers. The Surprise Gift was proof that her years of dedication and hard work were truly bearing fruit. (Please forgive the pun.)
JULIE’S MOST MEMORABLE MARKET MOMENT: MR. AND MRS. PUMPKINHEADS
Like Edee, Julie was part of the core group of volunteers that helped start the Mercer Island Farmers Market. Five years later, Julie continues to volunteer for the market and currently serves as a member of the board of directors and as our treasurer. Julie’s volunteering at the market extends beyond these roles. She is also a market-day volunteer serving in a variety of positions that all help to insure that the market runs smoothly. Speaking with her, it becomes clear that one of the volunteer positions that she enjoys the most is assisting at the children’s table.
Each market day, Judy Witmer, a Mercer Island resident and longtime teacher, has an educational activity for our youngest shoppers. Judy, one of the MIFM’s most dedicated volunteers, spends time during the week to develop simple activities that use mostly natural ingredients so that our community’s children can become more familiar with the natural bounty around them. Julie marvels, “It is amazing how these kids, raised with all the technology, respond. It is this engagement and enthusiasm from them that draw me in each and every time a volunteer.” Julie’s most memorable market comes from one of her days volunteering last fall at the children’s table. Judy developed an activity where children could decorate mini pumpkins with various pieces of squash, root vegetables, and greens making “Mr. and Mrs. Pumpkinheads.” Julie, still extremely impressed with the children’s creativity all of these months later, says, “It was so interesting to see how each child used the vegetables in different ways. And it was great fun to see the each of the pumpkin ‘faces’ emerge.”
There are so many different aspects to making the Mercer Island Farmers Market a fun experience where both adults and children can learn more about agriculture and the local produce from our region’s farms. It is through volunteers like Judy Witmer that these happen and most memorable experiences and memories happen.
JOEL’S MOST MEMORABLE MARKET MEMORY: MARKET SNOW DAY
Joel has been a volunteer at the Mercer Island Farmers Market since its very first opening day, August 10, 2008. Since serving in his original role as a volunteer flagger, Joel has served in several other volunteers roles as well as on the MIFM’s board. In 2011, he is serving as the market’s president. Each year, the Mercer Island Farmers Market volunteers and market manager like to try new things; to push the market in a new direction or two. Last year, one of the new things that the MIFM tried was its first-ever Harvest Market, held on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It was a risk for many reasons. Would our farmers be interested in selling that day? Would there be enough fresh produce that late in the season? Would customers be interested in purchasing fresh produce several days in advance of the holiday? Would the cold weather make shoppers reluctant to come to an outdoor event? Would a market, which was to take place four weeks after our final regular season market, be too difficult to raise awareness of to busy customers with lots of choices on where to shop for the holiday (a bit of “Out of sight, out of mind,” maybe)? In the end, the Pre-Thanksgiving Harvest Market proved to be one of the best market days last season. A better maxim to describe our customers’ response to this new concept was “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” Not only did our farmers have wonderful fresh produce, but the Harvest market’s sales and customer counts were among the highest in all of 2010. Several of our vendors reported that the Harvest Market was their best sales day that market season at the MI Farmers Market. One of our vendors even told us that it was the single best sales day that she ever had at any farmers market no matter the time of year. All of the MIFM’s volunteers were not just relieved, but ended up extremely gratified by our community’s response and support, which showed how much Mercer Islanders valued having the farmers market and in providing fresh, local produce for their families’ holiday meals.
What turned a wonderful experience into an extraordinary one and the one that is Joel’s most memorable market moment was when early that market day it began to snow. He says, “Several of the volunteers later spoke with each other about that moment. We all had a sinking feeling that with the snow that the shoppers would disappear and the Harvest Market would turn out to be a failure.” But instead of disappearing, the MIFM’s shoppers paused for a few moments to watch the flakes come down and then turned back to their shopping. As Susie Rosenstein, Mercer Island Farmers Market board member and vice president, said, “It was magical.” Do you have any memorable moments from the Mercer Island Farmers Market? We would love to hear them.