Market goes out drenching

KINGSTON — Organizers of the Kingston Farmers’ Market couldn’t really complain about the rain and fog on their last day of the season.

After a summer of glorious sunny and dry Saturday mornings, all KFM president Cindi Dudley could do is laugh about the rain and be grateful for what they had.

“Another great dry summer,” she said. “That really helped.”

The 13 booths that were up and operating Oct. 11 braved the driving rain and gusting winds blowing across Mike Wallace Memorial Park as Anglo-Alaskan acoustic world music of Tania Opland and Mike Freeman entertained vendors and customers who showed up.

Clint Dudley, the market manager, said the biggest successes of the season were the Berry Pie contest in September and the Kids Celebration Market in July. In addition, Clint had 140 vendors signed up this year.

“We’ve been growing by 10 to 20 percent the last three years,” he said.

The Berry Pie contest also generated nearly $800 — the most money the market has ever raised for the local food banks, Clint pointed out.

But the biggest success of the year was the addition of more fruit and produce to the market.

“There is a fair (amount) of produce going,” Cindi said. “(Vendors) needed to get rid of it, so you gotta come for that market.”

The market’s directors decided to go in a different direction this year by opening up the venue to fruit growers outside of the Kitsap Peninsula. The organization was successful in finding several families who have orchards in Eastern Washington and on the Olympic Peninsula.

Two produce vendors braved the rain Saturday to try and sell what they had of fruits and greens.

Patti and Terry Warren of Driftwood Key were asked by the market to sell their pears, apples, nectarines and other sweet treats at the market this summer and found success with the new venue. Normally, the couple sells the fruit from their 82-acre Eastern Washington orchard to warehouses.

But in Kingston, the Warrens said they were happy to see how the customers welcomed the direct sales.

“They’ve been coming back,” Patti said. “That’s the best sign.”

“I think it’s been very positive,” Terry added.

In addition to distributing his products at two other markets in Port Townsend and Pike Place Market in Seattle, John Gunning of Chimacum started selling his organic produce at the Kingston market this summer. He said he sees his stand at the Kingston Market as a wise marketing move.

“I want to come here next year because it’s building a base,” Gunning said about Kingston’s venue. “I think Farmers’ Markets are changing. They are offering more variety, more across the board.”

As for goals for next year, “keep working on more produce,” Cindi said. “We’re not ready to give up on that.”

Having the artisans adds variety to the market but “produce is where it’s at,” she commented.

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