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New Location, Same Mission: Capitol Hill Farmers Market moves

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Photo courtesy of Neighborhood Farmers Markets
Photo courtesy of Neighborhood Farmers Markets

On April 18, the Capitol Hill Farmers Market officially moved to its new permanent home.

For the last ten years, it has been located outside Seattle Central Community College. Now it will be more central, at East Denny Way (East Barbara Bailey Way) between Broadway and 10th Avenue East, adjacent to the light rail station plaza.

The market, part of the Neighborhood Farmers Markets group, is a community source of year- round local produce and artisanal foods.

Manager Ele Watts believes that the new location will bring new growth to the market. In a press release, Watts said, "This new site will help the market grow into an even more vibrant community space for the neighborhood. We'll be able to expand the number of vendors in the market, so shoppers will find a huge variety of fresh, local foods; beautiful flowers; and delicious treats every Sunday, all year round."

The Neighborhood Farmers Market team is excited about the move, because with it comes the guarantee that this essential food source isn't going anywhere, bringing a sense of security for vendors and community members. In the past, many markets have been displaced by construction and development efforts.

The move puts the farmers market near the AIDS Memorial Pathway and Cal Anderson Park, locations that make Capitol Hill the neighborhood that it is. Now it will be added to the map of important Capitol Hill landmarks.

The effort to create a lasting home for the Capitol Hill Farmers Market was a team effort, with help from the community and partners. The Neighborhood Farmers Market thanks the Capitol Hill Champion, the City of Seattle, Sound Transit, the AIDS Memorial Pathway, Elden and Company, Green Cities Property Management, Seattle Central Community College, and all neighbors and community members who helped.

The Neighborhood Farmers Markets organization has been "educating consumers about seasonal eating, local agriculture, and the importance of supporting our local farm economy" since its beginnings in 1993, when it was first located in the University District. Since then, it has grown and now has seven food-only farmers markets across the Emerald City.

Before the pandemic, these hosted over 200 farm and food businesses and sold a variety of products, including honey, produce, eggs, dairy, protein, alcohol, and prepared food. In the year 2019 alone, the markets were open on 237 days and hosted over 11,000 vendor stalls.

Along with that, over $500,000 was spent on food programs, designed to ensure equal access to fresh foods for all income levels. Thanks to community groups and nonprofits, 193 booth spots were offered, and 23,765 pounds of food were donated to local food banks. The markets have also worked with many federal and local food access programs, including SNAP, SNAP Market Match, Fresh Bucks Vouchers, WIC, and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

As everyone knows, COVID-19 has changed many things. Unfortunately, the Neighborhood Farmers Markets were not immune to these changes. Because of the pandemic, there have been many new restrictions, resulting in closures, a decreased capacity for shoppers, a new limit on the number of vendors allowed, and an increase in equipment costs. Because of all these changes and challenges, the nonprofit organization has had to come to terms with an incredible amount of lost revenue.

With that in mind, it is important, this year more than ever, to support local farmers markets. Their future depends on the support of generous donors, community partners, and local government, as well as dedicated local weekly shoppers. To support the Neighborhood Farmers Markets, you can patronize the new Capitol Hill location on East Barbara Bailey Way every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

If you don't live on Capitol Hill, check out one of the six other markets, including Saturdays in the University District and Sundays in West Seattle, among others. To find one close to you or to learn more, go to seattlefarmersmarkets.org.