The state of our farmers market union is strong! Click here to read the report.

In 2016 member markets had their biggest sales increase in almost a decade and hit our highest annual sales ever: $47 million in member market sales. In 2016, 3.3 million shoppers attended our markets. Over a million dollars in food benefits redeemed at markets. Over 150,000 lbs of food donated to food banks from markets across the state. More markets than ever accept SNAP EBT & FMNP, as well as distribute Fresh Bucks.

I am proud of the success our markets have had here in Washington State. Not only do they generate income for small and direct farmers, independent entrepreneurs, and local communities, farmers markets serve as community gathering places. Farmers markets have helped revitalize neighborhoods and even whole towns. Developers across the state are building farmers markets in to their master plans, to attract potential buyers. I visited one in Spokane, and was consulted about another in Tacoma. Farmers markets aren’t all highfalutin though. Despite Portlandia parodies, and internet jokes about artisan toast or artisan firewood, farmers markets are in general, pretty humble. I just attended the Okanogan Valley Farmers Market, which has some of the best fruit in the state, takes place in a lovely tree-lined park along the river, and has not a trace of pomposity. A craggy older farmer sold cantaloupes out of laundry baskets, he’d sniff them to let customers the exact day they’d be ripe. I bought a “tomorrow.” The market’s manager had a tent setup in the corner with kids activities. It was staffed by the county WIC coordinator, who also signed up low income mothers for WIC farmers market checks to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The market has a program to accept EBT cards so anyone, regardless of income level, can find a way to shop the market.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and the Washington State Farmers Market Association (WSFMA) are teaming up to encourage support for Washington Farmers Market Week, which begins Sunday and continues through Aug. 12. In a declaration proclaiming Aug. 6-12 “Washington Farmers Market Week,” Gov. Jay Inslee encouraged people to visit their local market and taste the produce from local farms in their peak season. WSFMA Executive Director Will O’Donnell said now is a perfect time to visit a local market. “The second week of August is the perfect time to go. All of our markets are open and packed with everything sweet and colorful, from berries to tomatoes to peaches and melons, as well as the kale and carrots we’re known for year round” O’Donnell said. “Farmers markets directly support the health of our farms, our bodies and even our economy. Most farmers markets are labors of love and this week shines a spotlight on the important service our markets and farms provide Washington.” Over the last 15 years, O'Donnell notes, WSFMA member markets have generated nearly $500 million dollars to Washington's economy. According to UC Davis and others, shopping at farmers markets has about twice the economic impact of regular retail shopping. By that measure, WSFMA member markets have contributed nearly a billion dollars to Washington State’s economy. And it’s not just dollars that farmers market sales create, according to O'Donnell: "it’s independent businesses created, jobs added, it’s farmland preserved, developed or improved, it’s people fed, it’s health improved, it’s communities revitalized. That’s what farmers markets contribute, and that’s the real impact we have on this state. And that’s why what are members are doing is so very important." More good news from O'Donnell: In 2016 WSFMA member markets saw our biggest sales increase in almost a decade and we hit our highest annual sales ever: $47 million. In 2016, 3.3 million shoppers attended WSFMA member markets. More markets than ever accept SNAP EBT and distribute Fresh Bucks. Over a million dollars in food benefits (like SNAP EBT, WIC and Senior FMNP) were redeemed at markets. Over 150,000 lbs of food donated to food banks from markets across the state. Washington State is proud of its farms and markets and hopes all its citizens will pick up their cloth totebag and head to their nearest market between August 6th and 12th during National Farmers Market Week.According to O'Donnell there is a market open somewhere in Washington every day of the week "except Monday." For More Info About How YOUR Farmers Market can participate in National Farmers Market Week, follow the link below to the great resources provide by the national Farmers Market Coalition. https://farmersmarketcoalition.org/programs/national-farmers-market-week/

Learn about Seattle's Local Culinary History! For nearly two centuries, Seattle has been a region whose culinary traditions, like its people, are distinguished by the confluence of cultures, the wise use of natural resources, and the willingness (and oftentimes necessity) to try something new. Discover the secret history of the Pacific Northwest’s favorite foods: learn the origins of the Rainier cherry, see treasures from the long history of Pike Place Market, get acquainted with the man behind the city’s first sushi bar, and debate Seattle’s signature dishes. Curated by two-time James Beard Award winner Rebekah Denn, Edible City will be a main course on the city's cultural buffet. http://ediblecity.mohai.org/  

SAVE THE DATE Good Food and Farms Advocacy Day Monday, March 6 in Olympia Meet legislators, advocate to restore funding for the WSDA Farm to School and Small Farm Direct Marketing programs. Location: Columbia Room, Legislative Building, State Capitol Campus Schedule: 10-10:30 a.m. – Check-in and coffee 10:30–11:30 a.m. – How to Effectively Advocate with Legislators 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. – Meetings with Legislators 2:00 p.m. Debrief and photo Good Food and Farming Advocacy Day is Monday, March 6, 2017 in Olympia, WA! The Good Food Coalition will host a presentation from one of our legislative champions about effective advocacy to prepare us for small group meetings with key legislators. The goals of advocacy day are simple: 1) Ask the legislature to restore $500,000 to the WSDA Farm to School and Small Farm Direct Marketing programs so they can better meet the demand for training, education and technical assistance from farmers and others across the state, and 2) share the importance of WSDA’s work to strengthening Washington farms, the economy and our communities. We will arrange appointments for attendees with key legislators on Agriculture and Budget committees.  If your legislators are on other committees, we encourage you to set a meeting with them. Check out his handy guide for information on how to set up a meeting and prepare for the day.  Karen Kinney is available to help.  Please reach out to her at karen@wafarmersmarkets.org. *This advocacy day is supported by Tilth Alliance, WA State Farmers Market Association, WA Sustainable Food & Farming Network and Solid Ground. Thanks to our friends at the WA Young Farmers Coalition, Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition, Faith Action Network, and NW Harvest for their support.

Do you live in Clark or Cowlitz county? Do you care about farmers markets and increasing access to fresh, local food for low-income families and individuals? Then this is the opportunity for you! WSFMA’s Regional Leads program is expanding to Southwest Washington in partnership with WSU Clark County Extension and we’re looking for a Greater Clark County Regional Lead. The Regional Lead will build and support relationships between farmers markets and local food access stakeholders in Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum counties. The position reports to Sandy Brown at WSU Extension Clark County. To Apply: Send resume and cover letter addressing how you qualify for the position to Sandra Brown, WSU Extension, 1919 NE 78th St., Vancouver, WA 98685 or email at browns@wsu.edu. The application deadline is January 20th, 2017. Check out the position description here.  

Seattle Magazine's List of "125 People who have Shaped the City" names Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance head Chris Curtis in its Influential Hall of Fame

from the NFMA newsletter announcement, sentiments very much echoed by the WSFMA

"Dear Friends of Local Farmers and Local Food, We would like to acknowledge how proud we are of Chris Curtis. The founder and Executive Director of our non-profit, Neighborhood Farmers Markets, was included in a list of local movers and shakers who "have transformed the town in extraordinary ways over the past 50 years…a cross section of talented visionaries, big thinkers and risk takers who have shaped our city into the remarkable place it is.” This list highlights leaders involved not only in food, but in music, art, books, sports, media, philanthropy, business, development, and the environment. Chris feels honored to be included, she says, “If anyone had told me at the beginning of our fledgling neighborhood farmers market efforts 24 years ago that I would someday be on a list with Ken Griffey, Nancy Pearl and Jim Whittaker, I would have said “you’re hallucinating.” A pioneer in the local food movement, Chris created the first non-profit neighborhood farmers market that devoted itself exclusively to local farms selling directly to the local community here in Seattle. “I was inspired by the Santa Monica Farmers Market where farmers are prioritized above all else. We started out in the U-District neighborhood in 1993 with only 17 farmers and 800 shoppers our first day. We now have 120 farmers every week who sell at seven neighborhood markets and it’s typical to see over 500,000 shoppers a year at NFM markets. It’s been so gratifying to see the growth for shoppers and local farmers.” Chris understands the deep connections that can occur at a neighborhood Farmers Market; these weekly, safe, family-friendly events that allow shoppers to meet the folks who grow our food and neighbors to interact as a community.  “A good urban Farmers Market is an amazing social catalyst where magic happens every week,” says Curtis. As is evident, Seattle agrees and its residents have continued to flock to these hubs of food, families, and farms. Though there is always room to grow, and we know that Chris is still working tirelessly to continue to transform this city in farm-friendly ways. So cheers to you, Chris! Thank you for your hard work and influence on Seattle--you have certainly shaped our town and people have noticed."