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Suquamish Farmers Market grows up
SUQUAMISH — Manette is a long way from Suquamish.
Still, Bremerton artisan Carolee Valentine can be found selling her handmade soaps and knitted goods in the Suquamish Farmers Market every Wednesday evening.
For Valentine it’s an opportunity to gain exposure in North Kitsap. And it doesn’t hurt the music is good and the mood is mellow.
“It’s pretty laid back here,” Valentine said, surveying the crowd from her Made in Manette stand Wednesday. “It’s definitely a different feel. It’s hard to put into words.”
Valentine is among a number of far-ranging vendors who helped the 2-year-old Suquamish Farmers Market grow in leaps this year. The market runs 3-7 p.m. Wednesdays on a grassy field across from the Shell station on Suquamish Way.
More growers and craftspeople are joining the farmers market circuit in the down economy, said Alan Trunkey, president of the Suquamish Farmers Market board.
“They can make some extra things, they can grow some things and they can make a little extra money,” Trunkey said.
The Suquamish Farmers Market began quietly in the spring of 2009.
Seven or eight vendors were setting up shop on Wednesdays and at first the market was pulling in just $800 an evening. Business picked up, and in its busiest weeks in August the market pulled in $1,300 each Wednesday.
This year the market hosts a dozen or more vendors and, despite cool weather, has been topping $1,000 each week.
The variety of vendors has grown as well.
The Suquamish market has attracted knife sharpeners, smoked cheese and salmon sellers, painters and jewelers. A banjo player strummed the blues Wednesday, and even a massage table was in business. Vendors come from as far as Port Orchard.
Suquamish painter Ellen Peterson said the varied offering will draw customers, but she hopes it won’t distract from the market’s core mission.
“We don’t want to lose sight of the fact that it’s a farmers market,” Peterson said. “It’s really about good food.”
Some of that food was piled high on the counter of Jared Hankins’ farm stand. Hankins and his wife Sara farm a little more than one acre in the Poulsbo area. The Wednesday stop helps them sell food that wouldn’t be fresh by the time the larger Poulsbo market rolls around on Saturdays. Radishes, for example, are picked twice a week, Hankins said.
“If I waited on this broccoli, it would be flowering by Saturday,” he said, gesturing to a bulbous bundle.
Hankins only sells about a quarter as much produce in Suquamish as in Poulsbo, but the sales come with less stress.
“It’s apples to oranges,” Hankins said. “Poulsbo’s market has a lot more traffic and a lot more competition.”
Poulsbo’s Tanya Johnson makes her way to Suquamish each week in search of dinner. On Wednesday she carried away a canvas bag bursting with chard and lettuce.
“I love it,” she said of the market, “and it’s going to grow and attract more talent.”
The Suquamish Farmers Market runs 3-7 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 6 on Suquamish Way across from the tribal center.
For more information and vendor applications see www.suquamishfarmersmarket.org.