By Fred Mariscal, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention
After a winter that stayed too long, a cooler than average spring, and as summer moves in with the promise of endless sunshine, so do the annual summer farmers markets that emerge across the county each year. For many residents, buying fresh local food at one of the 30+ farmers markets is a highly- anticipated seasonal ritual.
Farmers markets support local food production, and most have programs that address affordability, such as accepting SNAP/EBT, WIC & Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), and SNAP Market Match benefits. In this spotlight, we are excited to introduce you to three markets we partner with that take their programs to the next level in how they provide their communities with access to local, fresh, affordable, and culturally relevant produce.
Delridge Farmers Market
The mission of the Delridge Farmers Market is to serve the African Diaspora immigrant and refugee community in King County. The nonprofit African Community Housing & Development (ACHD) reopened the Delridge Farmers Market in the Delridge Neighborhood of Southwest Seattle on May 14, 2022.
This market seeks to put fresh, local food produced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned businesses directly into the hands of the neighborhood’s residents. “To support the development of small businesses, vendors are not charged a stall fee to participate and are provided with resources, equipment, and technical support as they build their capacity to sell at farmers’ markets,” ACHD Associate Director Bilan Aden said. “We seek to reduce the inherent economic risk of selling at a farmer’s market while eliminating food waste by purchasing any leftover produce at the end of the market day. In addition, that food is delivered to community members who cannot attend the market due to mobility or transportation barriers.”
The market also provides space and interpretation between Somali and English for community organizations to share resources and connect vendors and patrons. To make the farmers market more engaging for kids, they offer “Youth Bucks” – $5 for kids to spend on anything they like!
The Delridge Farmers Market runs on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, May to October 2022, from 10 am to 2 pm, at 9421 18th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106. A limited number of free bags of produce are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Kent East Hill Farmers Market
The Kent East Hill Farmers Market is a proud community-driven market that aims to increase access to fresh, healthy, and culturally relevant produce in its community. All produce sold is grown by immigrant (BIPOC) residents. Many of these farmers also participate in Living Well Kent’s programs to gain access to farmland and support in learning to become successful farmers in the Western Washington climate. Access to farmland can otherwise be a significant economic barrier to new farmers in the Puget Sound.
“Most of our farmers are refugees and immigrants from Africa and Afghanistan with full-time jobs; they farm part-time because they love to farm. We teach them techniques they can use to grow their produce successfully. So, it’s a combination of support and education,” Living Well Kent Operations Director Claudia Cortes said. “For us, it is vital to support these farmers because, without our help, they wouldn’t know how to farm in this state.”
The farmers sell part of their harvest at the Kent East Hill Farmers Market, earning extra income while providing the community of Kent with more access to healthy, locally grown food. Farmers also distribute a percentage of their harvest to local food banks so low-income and immigrant community members can have fresher, locally grown produce. In addition, this is the only farmers market in Kent that accepts SNAP and SNAP Market Match.
You can find the Kent East Hill Farmers Market every Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm June 4 to September 24, 2022, at 24604 104th Ave SE Kent, WA 98030. To support this program, contact Claudia Cortes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tukwila Village Farmers Market
The Tukwila Village Farmers Market – operated by the Food Innovation Network – sells fresh, local produce grown by refugees and immigrants in South King County.
Several of the market’s growers are part of the International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Program (IRC), which focuses on food access and the nutritional needs of families upon arrival to the U.S. New Roots also provides access to land, materials, and education for program participants to grow healthy food for their families. The market allows participants to sell their produce locally, which creates jobs and connects people to food.
“The Food Innovation Network works with refugees and immigrants who grow their produce and provide locally grown fresh, healthy food from people that look like us. There is trust when the person selling you that fruit looks like you and comes from your community,” Food Innovation Network (FIN) Program Coordinator Faizah Shukru said. “We provide refugees and immigrant farmers the opportunity for economic growth in exchange for healthy, local, affordable produce for our community. That’s our mission.”
In addition to WIC & Senior FMNP, SNAP, and SNAP Market Match, the Tukwila Village Farmers Market offers “Heart Bucks” – vouchers provided by FIN to eligible people who need assistance shopping at the market. Last year, 138 families took advantage of the program and received between $90 and $180, depending on the family size. FIN will repeat the Heart Bucks program this year.
To support this program, contact Program Director Kara Martin at email@example.com.
You can find the Tukwila Farmers Market at the Tukwila Village Plaza on Wednesdays, 4 pm to 7 pm, from June 22 to October 12, 2022, at 14350 Tukwila International Blvd, Tukwila, WA 98168.
Originally published 6/21/22