The Key Peninsula Farmers Market is official, after a kickoff fundraiser on June 15. Every Sunday from June 22 to Sept. 28, right off the Key Peninsula Highway in the parking lot of O’Callahan’s Pub and Grill in Key Center, about 20 vendors will set up and sell their produce and other items.
“The goal of this market is to celebrate the residents of the Key Peninsula and their efforts to farm, create, and flourish. In doing so we are protecting our rural farmland and celebrating our rural identity,” said the organization’s president, Tara Froode. “Every vendor signed on at this point in time is a Key Peninsula resident. That is truly amazing and exciting. There is so much going on that we are not aware of, such a bountiful area we all live in.”
The timing of this farmers market fits within a national movement to eat organic, whole, local foods. The selections are subject to seasonal availability, and there is an effort to educate consumers to eat foods in season. At this market, expect to see wild greens, fresh herbs, fresh flowers, Alpine strawberries, Alaska salmon (provided by local fishermen), fresh baked goods, and artisan chocolates, among other delicious foods. At the end of the season, the market will collaborate with the second annual KP Farm “Harvest Fest” farms tour.
Volunteers play an integral part, as with nearly every Key Pen event, in setting up the farmers market. Froode worked on the organization, obtaining health department and temporary use permits and insurance. Holly Hendrick, market manager, contributes to the marketing effort, and is working to set up a demonstration booth each week. Barbara Schoos is treasurer and developed the bylaws. Danna Webster is community liaison and facilitates communications. Claude Gahard, as vice president, worked with the Pierce Conservation District to secure a small grant for startup funds. Ramona Dickson conducts some of the marketing efforts and serves as community liaison. Greg Calahan is donating the site space and serves as mentor. September Hyde designed the farm map and guide. Kim Sutherin worked on market brochures. Froode said, “All of these volunteers have been amazing and this market would not have come to fruition if it weren’t for each individual’s input and spirit.”
Webster said, “The motivation of the farmers market is to preserve the local identity, to empower and support local farmers. They need direct marketing to decrease transportation costs.”
Calahan, owner of O’Callahan’s, is lending his business expertise to the market’s board. His mentoring with the volunteers focuses on the commercial aspect. He said, “I want people to shop in Key Center. With the gas crunch, it should become the norm to buy local. And I want to maximize the use of the corner real estate.”
The market is a member of the Washington State Farmers Market Association, and as such must follow certain rules, including one requiring that farmers gross more than crafters.
Jackie Aitchison, a Kitsap County resident who is director of the Washington State Farmers Markets Association, told the group she is amazed that the KP Farmers Market was pulled together in three months, since it took four years to get as many vendors for the Poulsbo Farmers Market.
The ratio of three producers to one crafter for booth slots was established in response to input from the community, who didn’t want the market to turn into a crafts fair. Froode said, “This issue has been a bit difficult, with a sudden rush of crafters wanting to sign on, but we are trying to come up with some creative solutions and balance that.” The ratio set for KP producers to vendors selling products from other areas in the state (e.g., peaches from Eastern Washington) has been easier to manage, as all of the current vendors are local.
O’Callahan’s will have live music in the beer garden on Sunday afternoons, providing entertainment during the market. Calahan said, ‘I think it (the farmers market) will do real well if they run it like a business.”
The Key Peninsula Farmers Market will be open through Sept. 28 every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The market is located in the parking lot of O’Callahan’s Pub and Grill, off Key Peninsula Highway in Key Center. Booth are $10 per day or $100 for the entire season. Applications are still accepted from produce vendors, and there is a waiting list for crafters. For information, contact 884-6350.