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Port Susan Farmers Market expands under USDA grant

Jun 1st, 2016 | Category: Community

New chef, kids programs offered

by Bill Pierce

The Port Susan Farmers Market (PSFM) in Stanwood has expanded this season with funding from a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Farmers’ Market Promotion Program grant. The goal of this national program is to expand opportunities for local agricultural products in their communities. PSFM, which opens for the season on Friday, June 3, is one of only five such projects in Washington State to receive funding.

Camano Garlic. PHOTO COURTESY OF PORT SUSAN FARMERS MARKET

Camano Garlic. PHOTO COURTESY OF PORT SUSAN FARMERS MARKET

“We are so happy,” Market Manager Leslie Collings said. “We already have such a great selection, with things like meat, eggs, cheese, bread, and vegetables. It’s been hard to turn additional vendors away, due to lack of space.”

The 2-year, $99,990 grant will fund a new, larger location in the parking lot behind the Police Department in downtown Stanwood at 8727 271st Street NW, as well as two new programs designed to develop business for market vendors and the broader Stanwood-Camano community. Funding should also promote a healthier community by emphasizing the benefits of fresh, wholesome foods.

Market expansion will improve parking, physical accessibility, electrical power, and on-site storage for market facilities. It will improve the website (www.portsusan.org), signage, and promotional materials and increase outreach to low-income residents and seniors.

A “Chef at the Market” cooking tent will be added to demonstrate creative ways to prepare food available from local farmers. Demonstrations will focus on dishes that are seasonal, affordable and healthy. “You taste it, you like it, you buy it,” Collings said.

The program will be staffed by Ken Selvidge who has been in the food service industry for 17 years. He and his wife have now dedicated themselves to special events, catering and farmers markets.

Hayton Farms at the Port Susan Farmers Market last season. COURTESY PHOTO

Hayton Farms at the Port Susan Farmers Market last season. COURTESY PHOTO

A “Sprouting Healthy Kids” children’s area will be added to engage children and their parents in food and nutrition education to help make healthier food choices and promote food as a core activity. The area will also encourage low-income families to utilize their EBT/SNAP/WIC benefits at the market.

Ronda Russell, coordinator for the program, has been an educator for over 20 years teaching every grade from pre-school through college. “I am really looking forward to bringing food out of the package and into real life experience for our Junior Sprouts. I have planned a season of fun-filled, educational and healthy adventures,” she said.

Expansion funds will allow the market to recruit new farmers and provide all vendors with training and business resources so they can better utilize the Market to grow their business. The market manager often works one-on-one with vendors to help them connect with customers, navigate regulations, and market their products. PSFM will continue to collaborate with the WSU “Sell More!” program, helping new and disadvantaged farmers bring their produce to the market.

While the grant provides funds for market expansion, it does not change the fundamental economics of the market, which runs on the broad support of the community it serves. “The thing that has been important to the Board is that the market grows ‘organically’ with vendors balancing the number of shoppers,” past president Shelley Klasse said.

Head to the market

The Port Susan Farmers Market runs Fridays (starting June 3) at 8727 271st Street NW (parking lot behind Police Department) in Stanwood. Hours are 2-7 p.m. For special events and more see www.portsusan.org.

Published in the June 2016 issue of Grow Northwest

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