More Vendors Coming to the MIFM Harvest Market, Sunday November 18

We have tents! We have warm things to drink! So don’t miss the last Mercer Island Farmers Market of the season, enhanced with Arts & Crafts!

More Things to Eat (In addition to the Vendors listed in previous post)

New for Harvest Market:                 

Returning Friends

Arts & Crafts

  • Joan Jevnikar – Jewelry (MIVAL Table)
  • Lillian Broekhoven- Aprons & Wreaths (MIVAL Table)
  • Marianne Bond – Hats (MIVAL Table)
  • Mary Chalker – Gift Boxes (MIVAL Table)
  • Susanne Foster – Fiber scarves, straw stars, gift bags, calendars (MIVAL Table)
  • Pia Messina – Paintings, dishes & scarves (MIVAL Table)
  • Joan Johnson – Glass Art
  • Leslie West – Studio Adlib- Found stuff creations
  • Wish Poosh Designs– Wood & glass art, indoor & garden
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What’s Happening at the Mercer Island Farmer Market, Sunday August 19th – Nectarines & Peaches, Fruit of the Gods!

  • Come and try samples of nectarines and then fix a Summer Dessert!
  • Music with Convergence Zone Bluegrass  Band – Contemporary Bluegrass
  • Children’s Table – Carrot Top Gardens    

Summer Desserts!

One of the many things to love about summer are the easy yet spectacular desserts you can make from simple ingredients.  Last summer I wowed some guests with a dessert of halved peaches, very lightly sprinkled with Grand Marnier and topped with Parfait Artisan Organic Ice Cream’s  fabulous vanilla ice cream. This week I’m trying ‘Roasted Peaches or Nectarines with Goat Cheese and Honey’.   I know both Collins Family Orchard and Martin Family Orchard will have perfectly ripe peaches and nectarines.   I’ll be stopping by Little Brown Farm Goat Cheese  for a recommendation on the cheese and by Island Apiaries for the perfect dessert  honey.

Roasted Peaches or Nectarines with Goat Cheese and Honey

2 large ripe yellow peaches or nectarines, halved                                                                    4 TBSP goat cheese                                                                                                                 2  TBSP honey                                                                                                                         1/3 cup hazelnuts roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 425.  Scoop out pits and roast peaches or nectarines halved side up on a lined baking sheet for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool briefly then scoop one tablespoon of goat cheese in the center of each peach half. Drizzle honey over the peaches and top with roasted hazelnuts.

Let us know if you’ve got a great summer dessert to share.

November 20th Mercer Island Farmers Market Vendor News

Winter squash from Hand-Farmed Organics at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Winter squash from Hand-Farmed Organics at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Our annual pre-Thanksgiving Harvest Market is this Sunday, November 20th at our usual time—10 am to 3 pm—at our usual location—SE 32nd Street between 77th Avenue SE and 78th Avenue SE at the northern end of Mercerdale Park.

Most of our regular-season vendors will be be returning for this final market day of 2011.  In addition to these familiar faces, the MI Farmers Market is thrilled that our Harvest Market will also have  several new vendors including:

  • Sign announcing that the vendor will be at the Mercer Island Farmers Market's pre-Thanksgiving Harvest Market. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Sign announcing that the vendor will be at the Mercer Island Farmers Market's pre-Thanksgiving Harvest Market. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Farmboy Baking Company, Medina, WA, who are bringing homemade pies, caramel apples, cookies, and cake pops

  • Middlefork Coffee Roasters, Seattle, WA, who will be offering hot cups of brewed coffee free as well as nine different varieties of fair trade, organic arabica coffee
  • Rainer Mountain Cranberry Farm, Eatonville, WA, who are coming with their local fresh cranberries
  • Theo Dorres Aromatics, Renton, WA, who will have available hot cups of tea plus several varieties of fresh lose-leaf tea

Our market manager, Edee Philips, has been working overtime putting together the detailed list below of all of the expected vendors and the products that they are bringing to this Sunday’s Harvest Market.

  • Honey Crisp apples from Collins Family Orchards at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 11, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Honey Crisp apples from Collins Family Orchards at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 11, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Collins Family Orchard, Selah, WA are planning to bring pink lady, fuji, honey crisp, gala, jazz apples, asian, bosc, packham pears, and angelo plums

  • Crown S Ranch, Winthrop, WA, will not only be featuring fifty organic-pasture-raised heritage turkeys—perfect for everyone’s Thanksgiving feast, but will also be offering 20% off holiday roasts, stew meat, and soup bones.  In addition, Jennifer Argraves and her family will have available their sustainably raised tenderloin roast, standing rib roast and ham roast as well as chickens and heritage stewing roosters and limited cuts of beef and pork.
  • Farmboy Baking Company, Medina, WA will have fresh pumpkin pies, both ready-to-eat and “take and bake,” apple pies, berry pies, snowflake gingerbread cookies, caramel apples, caramel pretzels, and cake pops
  • Rome Doherty, owner of Farmers Market Preserves, speaking with customers at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 21, 2011.

    Rome Doherty, owner of Farmers Market Preserves, speaking with customers at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 21, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Farmers Market Preserve, Seattle, WA, will be featuring several Thanksgiving-themed jams and jellies, including cranberry-jalapeño jam, crabapple jelly, spiced crabapple jelly, crabapple with mint and black pepper jelly, and crabapple with star anise jelly. Rome Doherty will also have on had several fruit butters, including apple, apple with ancho-chili, pear, peach and plum. He will be have free gift boxes available for those wanting to give his delicious, locally sourced products to those unable to get them themselves. As always, Rome will be offering a dollar off of your first jar of jam if you use the secret phrase. This week’s phrase—in honor of the Harvard-Yale game—is “Bulldog, bulldog, bow, wow, wow”

  • Fishing Vessel St. Jude, Seattle, WA, will have their justly famous locally caught tuna, including several flavors of canned tuna, sashimi-grade albacore steaks, and five flavors of albacore jerky
  • Full Circle Farm, Carnation, WA, will be offering potatoes, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery and celery root, kales, chards, greens, and winter squash
  • Got Soup? owner Jerry Baxter handing a sample to a customer at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 24, 2011.

    Got Soup? owner Jerry Baxter handing a sample to a customer at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 24, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Got Soup, Seattle, WA, will have several cold-weather soups, including caramelized onion & apple braised cabbage, potato & leek with chantarellas, thai pumpkin with coconut, crab bisque, and asparagus with truffled marscapone

  • Hand-Farmed Organics, Fall City, WA, will have on hand many of the vegetables needed for your Thanksgiving meal, including brussel sprouts, sunchokes, potatoes, greens, kales, carrots, parsnips, squashes, pumpkins, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, and celery root
  • 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, LaConner, WA hard at work setting up tables of produce at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in 2009. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Hedlin Farm, LaConner, WA, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, basil, beets, cabbage, carrots, swiss chard, fennel, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, shallots, potatoes, spinach, winter squash. In addition to these vegetables, Hedlin will also be bringing their own certified-organic, whole wheat flour

  • Island Apiaries, Freeland, WA, will be offering honey from Whidbey Island in many flavors such as blackberry, raspberry, buckwheat, and fireweed plus  cinnamon-infused.  Be sure to stock up for the winter
  • Jacobs Creamery, Doty, WA, will be returning to the MIFM will their wonderful eggs, European-style cultured butter, crème fraîche, cheddar, gouda, italian-grating cheese, eggnog pudding (chocolate and vanilla too), cranberry pizazz (cranberry-with-orange-zest-flavored fromage blanc), herbed and original fromage blanc, and fresh natural Greek, honey Greek, and european-style yogurts
  • Kittitas Valley Greenhouse, Ellensburg, WA, will be coming to the MI Farmers Market with their greenhouse-grown, heirloom tomatoes
  • Fresh, hand-made pasta from La Pasta, Seattle, WA at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on June 12, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Fresh, hand-made pasta from La Pasta, Seattle, WA at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on June 12, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    La Pasta, Seattle, WA, will have their hand-made pastas including egg, spinach, lemon pepper, spinach, beet, tricolore, black squid ink, four-cheese ravioli, three-mushroom ravioli, pumpkin ravioli, spinach-and-roasted-garlic ravioli, and potato gnocchi

  • Martin Family Orchard, Orondo, WA, will be coming to the Harvest Market with Fuji and Gala apples, Bartlett, D’Anjou, and Hosui Asian pears
  • Middlefork Coffee Roasters, Seattle, WA, will be at the MI Farmers market with free, freshed-brewed cups of coffee to keep everyone warm and lively. They will also be selling nine varieties of fair-trade, organic, Arabica coffee beans –fair trade and organic
  • Molly Moon Ice Cream, Seattle, WA, will be back with their wonderful ice cream featuring such Thanksgiving-themed flavors as pumpkin clove, spiced cider sorbet, pear sorbet, & cranberry-ginger sorbet. Molly Moon will also have several of their usual popular flavors, including Theo chocolate, Vivace coffee, and salted caramel
  • Parfait Organic Artisan Ice Cream, Seattle, WA, will also be back with several seasonal flavors, including pumpkin spice, cinnamon stick, and toasted hazelnut, plus many of their usual favorite flavors. They will have a special sale for their pints: buy four or more pints and get for free a jar of organic dark chocolate sauce
  • The folks at Patty Pan Grill cooking up veggies at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 31, 2011. (Photo by Alyssa Hatsukami)

    The folks at Patty Pan Grill cooking up veggies at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 31, 2011. (Photo by Alyssa Hatsukami)

    Patty Pan Grill, Seattle, WA, will be cooking up their popular grilled veggie quesadillas, veggie and beef tamales (sourced from the MIFM’s Crown S Ranch)

  • Rainier Mountain Cranberry Farm, Eatonville, WA, will have the one of the key ingredients for your Thanksgiving meal: cranberries. Be sure to stop by their booth to find out about their farm and their fresh, locally grown cranberries
  • Snohomish Bakery, Snohomish, WA, will be coming to the market with their amazing artisan breads and pastries. For the holiday season they will also be bringing stollen, the traditional German Christmas cake
  • Theo Dorres Aromatics, Renton, WA, cups of hot tea, packaged loose-leaf teas blended from local certified organic ingredients, including a limited edition holiday tea & tisane gift tin, gluten-free & kosher
  • Trevani Truffles, Seattle, WA, will be at the Harvest Market with several holiday-themed treats, including egg nog and cranberry orange dark chocolate plus several other flavors of truffle including scotch & honey with turmeric, white chocolate marzipan with pistachios, classic dark chocolate, raspberry, caramel with sea salt, rosemary olive oil,  and white chocolate lemon with anise
  • Shannon's dad, Ernie, talking with a customer at the Two If By Seafoods booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 24, 2011.

    Shannon's dad, Ernie, talking with a customer at the Two If By Seafoods booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 24, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Two if by Seafoods, Seattle, WA, have have on hand their Alaska-caught sockeye and coho salmon, available in fillets and steaks, as well as the most amazing smoked salmon around

  • Veraci Pizza, Seattle, WA, will be at the MI Farmers Market baking pizzas including luna rossa italian dry salami, cascioppo bros italian sausage, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers on savory red sauce with our three cheese blend wild chanterelle fresh wild chanterelles, beecher’s flagship cheese on garlic olive oil with our three cheese blend
  • Willapa Hills Cheese, Doty, WA, will be offering market favorites, including Big Boy Blue, Two-Faced Blue, Pluvius, and You-Moon (pure sheep’s milk blue cheese)
  • Pizza dough being tossed at the Zaw Pizza booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 24, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Pizza dough being tossed at the Zaw Pizza booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 24, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

    Zaw Pizza, Seattle, WA, will be making from scratch, made-to-order handcrafted bake-at-home pizzas

September 11th Mercer Island Farmers Market Events Highlights: Music, Sampling Table, Children’s Table

In addition to the commemoration for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 that the Mercer Island Farmers Market held this past Sunday and the chef demo by Kurt Daimmeier of Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro, there were several other events and activities.

Music

Patrick Daugherty (left with electric guitar), Bert Bertram (center with trombone), and Joe Ross (right with acoustic guitar) playing at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 11, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Patrick Daugherty (left with electric guitar), Bert Bertram (center with trombone), and Joe Ross (right with acoustic guitar) playing at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 11, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Musician Joe Ross returned to the MIFM. Joe last played at the market over July 4th weekend. This Sunday, he was joined for a few sets by another popular Mercer Island musician, Patrick Daugherty, who has been a musical mainstay of the MI Farmers Market, playing consistently throughout the market season, as well as in previous seasons volunteering as music coordinator.

In the afternoon, Joe was joined for a set not only by Patrick, but also by Bert Bertram, who played the trombone. We aren’t sure, but this might be the first time that a trombone was played at the MI Farmers Market. Over the years, there has been an extensive array of instruments played at the MIFM: guitar; banjo; bass; clarinet; harmonica, accordion; saxophone; steel drum; marimba…We love how the list and diversity continues to grow.

Thank you, Joe, Patrick, and Bert, for the great music.

Sampling Table

Kari Fisher (left in red top) talking with a family about the different varieties, tastes, and textures of the peaches at the sampling table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 11, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Kari Fisher (left in red top) talking with a family about the different varieties, tastes, and textures of the peaches at the sampling table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 11, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

In the morning, MI Farmers Market board members and volunteers, Tanya Bednarski and Kari Fisher, organized a sampling table featuring fresh peaches grown by our farmers.

There were Angelo’s peaches from Collins Family Orchard, Selah, WA, J.H. Hale peaches from Martin Family Orchard, Orondo, WA, organic donut peaches from Billy’s Organic Garden, Tonasket, WA, and Diamond Princess peaches from Tonnemaker Family Orchard, Royal City, WA.

We want to thank Tanya and Kari for taking the time on such a beautiful day to put together this educational activity as well as Billy’s Organic Garden, Collins Family Orchard, Martin Family Orchard, and Tonnemaker Family Orchard for supporting it.

Children’s Table

Judy Witmer talking with a parent and her children about snails and slugs at the children's table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 11, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Judy Witmer talking with a parent and her children about snails and slugs at the children's table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 11, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Volunteer Judy Witmer developed another educational, hands-on activity for kids at the children’s table.

This past Sunday’s activity was “snail hunts and slug traps.” While some might have thought that kids might be put off by such “slimy” and off-putting creatures, there was, in fact, a great deal of enthusiasm for them.

Each week, Judy is a wonder coming up with a different fun activity that teaches our community’s children about gardening and food.  Thank you, Judy.

September 11th Mercer Island Farmers Market Vendor News

We have some news from our vendors for this Sunday’s Mercer Island Farmers Market.

Crown S Ranch, Winthrop, WA

Jennifer Argraves and her daughter, Icel, laughing at a customers joke at the Crown S Ranch booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 14, 2011.

Jennifer Argraves and her daughter, Icel, laughing at a customers joke at the Crown S Ranch booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 14, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Most of the MI Farmers Market customers are familiar Jennifer Argraves, her wonderful family, and their pastured eggs and sustainably raised beef, chicken, and pork.

During the past few weeks, Jennifer has started to bring vegetables that they have been grown on the ranch. Some of our customers might have briefly caught sight of the ears of sweet corn before they disappeared before noon after selling out in an hour. The lucky few who got to purchase a few ears tried not to rub it into to neighbors and friends who missed out.

Well, this week, Jennifer tells us that she will be bringing corn in larger quantities so more of us will get to purchase this always-looked-for late summer favorite.

Farmers Market Preserves, Seattle, WA

Rome Doherty, owner of Farmers Market Preserves, speaking with customers at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 21, 2011.

Rome Doherty, owner of Farmers Market Preserves, speaking with customers at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 21, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Rome Doherty, owner of Farmers Market Preserves, writes, “School is in, fresh corn is in the markets, and it’s the last couple of weeks for fresh berries of any sort. I have a new Blueberry Jam with Maple Syrup this weekend, also a limited quantity of Fig with vanilla.

“Also I’ve finally got the ‘gals of the farmers market‘ gallery up on my blog. So check it out.”

For those customers interested in a dollar off of their first jar of jam, this week’s “magic” word is “jukebox,” which Rome explains is in honor of last weekend’s word, “Domino,” which Rome thought a surprisingly large number of customer got the reference for.  (Hint: it has something to do with blueberries.)

Got Soup?, Seattle, WA

Got Soup? owner Jerry Baxter handing a sample to a customer at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 24, 2011.

Got Soup? owner Jerry Baxter handing a sample to a customer at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 24, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Jerry Baxter, owner of Got Soup?, writes, “Well summer is here this week, looks like 80 to 85 till Monday. So it will be cold soups this week. If anyone does want a hot soup we can bring them to the market for you. Just call or e-mail me.”

This week’s soups are:

  • Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho (cold, vegan, raw): tomato, cucumber, onion, fennel, yellow pepper, zucchini, tarragon, parsley, sherry wine vinegar, cayenne, paprika, olive oil
  • Watermelon Gazpacho (cold and vegan): watermelon, tomato, cucumber, onion, yellow pepper, green pepper, celery, cilantro, basil, jalapeno, white balsamic vinegar, orange juice
  • Cool Cucumber & Melon (cold and vegan): honeydew melon, cucumber, coconut milk, yogurt, mint, salt, white pepper. Garnish-chili oil
  • Potato Vichyssoise (vegetarian): vegetable stock (onion, carrot, celery, tomato, parsley), yukon potatoes, onions, leeks, celery, fennel, milk, butter, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
  • Peach & Apricot Gazpacho (vegan and raw): white peaches, peaches, apricots, grapes, onions, cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, almond milk, white grape juice chervil, parsley, champagne vinegar, white pepper

As he always does, Jerry has sourced much of the produce for his soups from farmers at the Mercer Island Farmers Market. This week’s ingredients come from, among many other local farms:

Patty Pan Grill, Seattle, WA

The folks at Patty Pan Grill cooking up veggies at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 31, 2011. (Photo by Alyssa Hatsukami)

The folks at Patty Pan Grill cooking up veggies at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on July 31, 2011. (Photo by Alyssa Hatsukami)

Many of the customers at the Mercer Island Farmers Market will have heard the news that a few weeks ago Patty Pan Grill added a completely different product to their menu: beef tamales.

After over a decade of being vegetarian, this was a big change. Patty Pan is already in the process of refining their new product and beginning this week will be using Crown S Ranch beef in their beef tamales.

This is great chance for those of you who haven’t yet tried either Patty Pan Grill’s or Crown S Ranch’s products to do so in just one bite. As the marketers say, “it only takes one bite…”

August 28th Mercer Island Farmers Market Event Highlights: Music, Dancing, and Sampling

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 performing and inspiring children to dance at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 28, 2011.

Matt Lome performing and inspiring children to dance at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 28, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

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 singing and playing the guitar at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 28, 2011.

Sophie Feldman singing and playing the guitar at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 28, 2011. (Photo by Heather Feldman)

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.

Children dancing to music played by Sophie Feldman at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 28, 2011.

Children dancing to music played by Sophie Feldman at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 28, 2011. (Photo by Heather Feldman)

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 (on left) and Mindy Landsman (in middle in brown top) preparing peaches and nectarines, which customers are sampling, at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 28, 2011.

Susie Rosenstein (on left) and Mindy Landsman (in middle background in the brown top) preparing peaches and nectarines, which customers are eagerly sampling, at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on August 28, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

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.

More Memorable Market Moments from the Mercer Island Farmers Market

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.

Shoppers at the Martin Family Orchard booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market.

Shoppers at the Martin Family Orchard booth at the Mercer Island Farmers Market. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

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.

Judy Widmer working with children at the children's table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in October 2010.

Judy Witmer working with children at the children's table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market in October 2010. (Photo by Julie Sarkasian)

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.”

Mr. and Mrs. Pumpkin Heads at the Mercer Island Farmers Market.

Mr. and Mrs. Pumpkin Heads at the Mercer Island Farmers Market. (Photo by Julie Sarkasian)

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.

Snowing at the Mercer Island Pre-Thanksgiving Harvest Market in November, 2011.

Snowing at the Mercer Island Pre-Thanksgiving Harvest Market in November, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

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.