Produce venue grows beyond Kitsap

KINGSTON — Being a logging community, the North End isn’t exactly prone to producing large amounts of agricultural products, or more specifically, produce.

That’s one of the reasons why the managers of the Kingston Farmer’s Market have decided to flex their policies and allow produce vendors from outside the area to sell at the market.

Normally, Kingston’s venue only allows homegrown or handmade products from the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas.

But as a member of the Washington Farmer’s Market Association, the organization needs to maintain a percentage of produce versus crafts, said Board President Cindi Dudley.

The market could either shrink in size or bring in more produce to balance its requirements. Dudley said she believes customers would prefer the latter.

“These are efforts to try and bring more produce,” she said, noting the produce will be organic or substantially grown and from Washington only.

These are not commercial vendors unloading their trucks, but farmers selling produce picked directly from their farms on the other side of the Sound, Dudley said.

In some cases, while it wouldn’t be Dudley’s first choice, there could be an in-between person selling the produce. Such salespersons would have to buy directly from farms and turn around and sell to the customer.

While Kingston has been one of the few markets that had the local produce vendors only policy, other markets have had success with outside vendors.

“We’re being reassured that they’ve been able to work with local farmers as far as not competing to a point where (the outside vendors) aren’t driving out the local farms,” Dudley said.

“If we can figure out the pricing and working cooperatively, it should work and we should have more produce at the market,” she explained. “It seems like we need to try it. They need to come and we need them. It’s fresh and buying directly from the farm is better in my mind.”

Regardless, Dudley said the market will still be protective of local farmers because that’s why it mainly exists. Comments on the change have been positive, she added.

“I think people are generally supportive and hope that it works and hope it doesn’t cause problems with local people that are trying to grow and bring produce to the market,” Dudley explained.

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