Del Tierra’s beets and radishes. Photo by Holly Hendrick

What started out as a long-term goal of the Key Peninsula Community Council last year (KP News, Volunteer group tackles growth issues, Dec. 2007) became a full-fledged farmers market thanks to the hard work of a few volunteers, a leap of faith from the vendors, and the overwhelming support of the shoppers. On opening day June 22, the Farmers Market offered 382 shoppers 12 vendors, including six Key Peninsula farmers.

“For a first year market, the KPFM was off and running from the get go,” stated Washington State Farmers Market Association (WSFMA) Director, Jackie Aitchison. “The community support, seen in the quality of vendors and the number of faithful shoppers, reflects the work and forethought expended before the market opened,” she said.

Within a few weeks the market was seeing a consistent number of repeat shoppers. One such Longbranch customer, Vicki Biggs said, “Not only have I been able to buy fresh, local produce and order some wonderful lamb, but also I connect with friends and neighbors while I am [at the market]. There is a happy sense of community at the market that is hard to find and hard to beat.”

The figures, as of the middle of September, indicate more than 3,000 shoppers spent an average $9.44 at the market; by comparison the average sale at Seattle farmers’ markets is $10. Morgan Creek Farm, Rolf’s Choice Salmon, and The Bee Lady, all considered farmers by WSFMA guidelines, were the top three vendors for sales.

Part of the reason for the success of the market, noted Key Pen resident and regular shopper, Jan Piercy, is the existence of peninsula farmers. Piercy managed a farmers’ market in Volunteer Park several years ago.

“The participation of the local farmers will probably be the key to its [KPFM’s] success,” Piercy said. “Past markets have relied on farmers from other areas of Washington; with transportation costs the [previous] market was not sustainable.”

Morgan Creek Farm’s bounty, Photo by Holly Hendrick

Aitchison agrees, “For a new market to succeed, the community needs to be involved and wholeheartedly behind it. This has happened with the lovely, vibrant and vital Key Peninsula Farmers Market.”

Del Tierra farmer Lyn Apodaca, commented, “As a seller, KPFM was a great experience. It was very satisfying to provide healthy, local produce to the community. We are already making plans for next year and anticipating another great season.”

There is no doubt KPFM will be back for a second season. Already in the planning stages for next year are market bags created by local artists, a website featuring recipes and information about farming on the peninsula, and the ability to accept WIC, food stamps and senior vouchers.

The public is invited to attend the KPFM’s first meeting at 4 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Key Center Library. For information, contact the Market Manager at:manager@nullkpfarmersmarket.org

Holly Hendrick is the market manager for the Key Peninsula Farmers Market and event coordinator for the Pierce County WSU 2008 HarvestFEST.

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