Wallingford Farmers Market Moving

Trust us when we tell you that we’ve spared you sturm und drang and bring you straight to the happy conclusion (for now).

The Wallingford Farmers Market has known for some time now that its home in the parking lot south of Wallingford Center was temporary: a number of Wallingford Center businesses resented the loss of the parking spaces they were promised as part of their lease and, in any case, the area set aside for the market simply wasn’t big enough. According to Jon deLeeuw, Vice President of the Wallingford Community Council, who, along with his partner Kara Ceriello, president of the Wallingford Chamber of Commerce, have been working with the the Farmers Market Association to resolve the situation, the market needs at least 30 – 35 stalls to be profitable. Wallingford’s Farmers Market has been operating with far fewer in the limited space it has.

As of next week’s market (Wednesday, September 1st), it will be moving, but fear not, you’ll be able to hit the new spot with a potato hurled from the old. After evaluating and rejecting (or, more often, being rejected by) numerous other spots, an agreement has been reached to move it just outside the Center. SDOT will close down the northbound lane of Wallingford Ave between 44th and 45th St on market day afternoons, and the market will be held along the east side of the street. Traffic will still be able to travel southbound and parking will be available in the lot and along the west side of the street.

The new arrangement, while not ideal, has several advantages. Not only does it free up the Wallingford Center parking lot for Wallingford Center businesses, but it provides more room for more stalls. We’re told that the Farmers Market has been turning away prospective vendors for lack of room to put them.

Of course, it hasn’t been without its detractors, either. At least one business along Wallingford Ave objected to the idea of closing even part of the street, for fear that it would interfere with their regular customers’ ability to access the shop, and it’s not clear what the new traffic pattern will be for northbound traffic (all the side streets near Wallingford Ave and 44th are narrow and further blocked by traffic circles. (According to Jon, though, SDOT’s data shows that most of the traffic that time of day is southbound, not northbound, in any case).

So, good news for the market, for now. Jon emphasized that this was a trial period in the new location, and that this compromise was hard-won but tenuous. If you’d like to discuss this with community members as well as market and government representatives, there will be a community meeting this coming Tuesday, August 31st at 7 pm (doors at 6) at the Wallingford Senior Center at the Good Shepherd Center (4649 Sunnyside Ave N). It is open to all residents, business owners and anyone who attendes the Farmers Market, along with representatives from the Seattle Office of Economic Development and Department of Transportation.

It’s a welcome development, especially in light of Vanessa Ho’s recent article in the Seattle Post-Intelligence, Does Seattle Have Too Many Farmers Markets? Noting the growth of markets around the city, with every neighborhood wanting their own, some of the farmers are apparently starting to feel stretched too thin. She quotes Wade Bennett, of Rockridge Orchards, as saying “But it’s becoming a burden. What has happened for most farmers is we’re killing ourselves and we’re actually making less money.”

When I asked Jon to square this with the fact that the Wallingford Farmers Market is turning away prospective vendors, he noted that there may be oversaturation, but that is mainly on the weekend markets. Wallingford has one of the fewer weekday markets, meaning there’s less competition for the buyers.

And, of course, there’s other changes afoot to enable hyperlocal produce: the City of Seattle just passed an ordinance that makes it legal to sell produce grown on an “urban farm” of areas up to 4,000 sq ft, essentially turning every backyard in the neighborhood into a commercial farm. We had a chat with Jenny Pell of PermaCulture Now at the Pirates and Pipsqueaks carnival over the weekend, and she hinted that she was brewing up an idea for a collaborative, farm located throughout Wallingford. Details forthcoming.

The new ordinance also increased the legal number of chickens from three to eight. This allows us to rest easier, as we no longer have to push squawking birds under the floorboards when the Chicken Inspector comes around.

  • Fruitbat

    It’s not clear from the article if the market is on the sidewalk on the east side of Wallingford (as shown in the illustration), or on the street. I hope it’s the sidewalk. I’m would not be thrilled about a farmers’ market separated from traffic by a few orange cones or sawhorses.

  • Lauren

    @ Fruitbat – fear not, Seattlites can handle it. We’re used to it being done that way in Fremont and Ballard.

  • Rob

    The complaining shop owners realize that the market brings extra shoppers to them, right? I rarely go to any shops along Wallingford or at the Center, but I frequently go in there on the days I make it to the Market.

  • Luna

    I’m wondering if the farmer’s market could be held in one of the school parking lots?

    If the start time shifted a bit, (since school days don’t tend to end until around the set up time of the market) perhaps some co-existing could occur? Or maybe have a “full” market when school is out (using their empty parking lots) and a smaller one other times in another location?

    Or how about spreading the booths out a bit — in “clumps” — along a bigger area? Yes, we’d have to walk a ways between stalls, but it could still maintain market energy and be creative with space.

  • Kristin

    I’m thrilled! I live on Wallingford Ave near the market and there isn’t as much traffic along this street as people think. The market will be very visible as people pass by on 45th, and I’m looking forward to seeing more vendors.

  • http://www.dougsvotersguide.com/ DOUG.

    Good news. And how could getting a ton of pedestrian traffic near your business “interfere” with the ability to shop?

  • http://www.wallyhood.org Wallyhood

    From what I was told, some shops naturally benefit from pedestrian traffic, while some types of specialty shops, that depend more on regular customers making dedicated trips from remote places, just want ease of access for those existing customers. A dry cleaner, for example, wouldn’t be likely to benefit from Farmers Market traffic the way, say, a bookstore might.

  • Marjorie

    I’m wondering if perhaps holding the market along Burke Ave (between 44/45) would be better? Half the street is already no-parking, and it may help prevent any traffic/market collisions?
    In either case, I am happy to see the market remain in our neighborhood. It’s not only a great way to support our locals, but I always seem to run into an old friend that I haven’t seen in a long time!

  • Wallingford Mom

    I like the new location! It is worth a try. I like that the market is staying in the center of Wallingford. Closing off half of the street seems like a good compromise as along as it is safe.

  • iyqtoo

    The neighborhood shopper vs destination shopper discussion is an on-going one among Wallingford businesses for many years. Street parking belongs to all of us and business owners can’t always expect to downstream the cost of customer parking to the taxpayers of the City.

    Owners of parking-dependent businesses who locate in a space without reserved parking–at a reduced rate reflecting that shortcoming–are sometimes forced to either accept parking restrictions that benefit the neighborhood OR move their business to a shopping center or a mall with reserved parking and pay the higher rent that funds the resource.

  • Alex

    This seems like an excellent solution to the tiny space the Market was using in the south end. Glad it’s staying central and visible too!

  • http://realplaces.com rusty

    If they are going to use the west side of Wallingford Center, there’s a lot of space that’s generally underutilized between the building and the street. Not Chutney’s patio, but the northern portion, and even potentially the patio on the approach to the western entrance. I don’t know that it would be enough by itself to contain the entire market, but it seems like it could be used for extra capacity if the market needs more space.

    You can walk around and see the space I’m talking about here:

    http://realplaces.com/place/rusty/Wallingford_Ctr_Outside

    (comments on the walkaround are welcome as well !)

  • http://felsputzer.wordpress.com Chris W.

    @Lauren — I’m gonna have to disagree with your comment about Fremont & Ballard markets. At least currently, both of those markets require the street to be closed to thru-traffic when the market is open. I’ve shopped at both recently & there was no vehicle traffic alongside the market area.

  • http://www.dougunderground.com/ DOUG.

    Perhaps the businesses dependent upon “destination shoppers” could view these days as an opportunity to market themselves to dozens and dozens of potential clients who most likely live in the neighborhood. We need dry cleaners too.

  • Kara

    sorry, THIS JUST IN:

    no FM on Wallingford Ave.
    we have just pulled the plug due to too many businesses opposing it.
    yes, “what the hell”, you may ask – as a small biz owner too i understand some of the concerns. BUT this is good for the community, and we need EVERYONE to attend the Community Meeting on Tues at 6:30 at the Senior Center!

  • anonymous

    Can we get a list of businesses opposing the market so those of us that want to can start boycotting them?

  • Nancy M

    Some community! How about giving them the benefit of the doubt? It probably has to do with people getting there in cars, a larger problem, but to boycott some of the last small businesses in town, really. That to me is knee-jerk. Find a place where the market works, especially one where the vendors can park their vehicles in the vending area, like at the U District one. Way more profitable and workable in my farmer’s market experience.

  • Kara

    i sure can’t condone a boycott, though i totally see your side. you could go speak w/ them to tell them YOU want the FM, and especially if you could tell ‘em you DO patronize their biz or that you would be more likely to if you came to the FM there.

    there are some very valid concerns for small businesses there; these do include Mirage Shoes (i think they’d benefit from it), WallyPets (ditto), Terra Hemp (ditto), Dr Viola Gay.

    another valid point is: if you’re a specialty biz, maybe i never buy yarn, or don’t have a pet, or i already have an eye dr. why ruin it for the rest who want it, and the entire community? and what DO you do to promote your business?

  • E30 Memorial

    Dear Anonymous; I find it rather amusing you want to expose and harm the small businesses hiding behind the veil of secrecy that oppose your views, when you’re hiding behind the veil of your secret monitor. LOL

    On a more appropriate concern, how do these Farmers Market businesses pay property tax to “Seattle Tax Payers” on the city owned property they want to use for private income?

    Steve

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