Maple Valley Farmers Market ready for June 20 opening

With less than two months until the inaugural Maple Valley Farmers Market, it seems like everything is falling right into place.

Victoria Laise Jonas, chair of the market steering committee, said that things are going well and “it is better than we ever imagined as far as recruiting vendors.”

“We knew that Saturday morning was going to be a challenge because there’s already established farmers markets in the region,” Jonas said. “The Vendors Committee very proactively went out and sought out farmers.”

Vendors in the farmers category has reached 30 as of last week with all kinds of different products to be offered ranging from honey to organic eggs to lavender as well as an assortment of fruits and vegetables.

Jonas said they’ve also brought in a vintner from Hobart who makes the Isabella Grace label wines.

“On the survey we did over three months people were very interested in wine,” Jonas said. “He approached us. We pursued it and went through all the channels for approval.”

There will not be samples, though, and you have to be over 21 to purchase wine.

And there continues to be interest among potential sellers.

“We’re actually still getting calls from vendors,” Jonas said. “We’ll continue to take vendor applications just in case we need to supplement throughout our 16 week market.”

There will also be six prepared food vendors, Jonas said, and as part of the Washington State Farmers Market Association they can have one artisan for every three farmers.

There could be anywhere from 40 to 50 vendor stalls at the first market on Saturday, June 20 at Rock Creek Elementary, Jonas said.

Jonas added that the market has also allowed for the city of Maple Valley, which is a sponsor, and Tahoma School District to work with the steering committee to create a new level of community partnerships.

“It’s been so awesome working with the teachers and students of the district,” she said. “The graphics arts students came up with 40 different opening day poster (concepts) for us to review. It’s unbelievable the quality and expertise these students have put together. What they came up with was pretty spectacular.”

Students in the marketing program at Tahoma High are also going to get something out of this process.

Those kids are going to take the poster created by a graphic arts students and go out to local businesses to see if they can get owners to put the poster in the window to help promote the market.

“We’ve also hired up to six students … to help as our farmers market assistants,” Jonas said. “We’re so pleased to be able to offer them that opportunity.”

Another feature of the market that Kim Emmons, who is a member of the steering committee, will be that each market Saturday will have a theme.

One week will be a Green theme with it being “all about everything green from composting to water conservation.”

“We’ll also have a Culinarian Day and we’re just beginning to work on that one,” Emmons said. “We want to celebrate what they do, to teach people how to cook the unique vegetables that are offered by the farmers.”

There are also plans for a health and wellness theme, a patriot day, breast cancer awareness and a National Farmers Market Day which is scheduled for Aug. 8.

“We have a lot of themes that we’re looking for people to adopt,” Emmons said. “We also have our local churches coming to together to put on a Kids Day. And the Master Gardeners Association will be showing up the first Saturday of every month.”

Both Jonas and Emmons are looking forward to the first market day.

“Opening day is going to be pretty spectacular,” Emmons said. “We’ll have special entertainment. We’ll have the Maple Valley City Council there.”

Jonas said the process of coordinating the market has “really been a great experience.”

“People are really exited and engaged,” she said. “It’s like throwing a party, I know the night before I’m going to be worrying if anyone’s going to show up.”

Reach Kris Hill at khill@maplevalleyreporter or (425)432-1209 ext. 5054.