(Ed Note: The Wallingford Farmers Market runs through September 26th this year. That gives you three more chances to enjoy a stroll to your local farmers market before the long, bleak gray descends. Get on it!)
The Wallingford Farmers Market (Wednesdays, 4 – 7 pm in Meridian Park, through late September) is a highly attended community event: long lines for naan, kids running everywhere, buskers playing the Star Wars theme on a cello. My own experience suggests that half of the school-age children in the neighborhood pass through Meridian Park every Wednesday in the summer. The community did not clearly foresee this future. The farmer’s market began in the parking lot of the Wallingford center, and its move was a community-rending decision. Many people thought a move to the park would kill the farmers market.
The Seattle Farmers Market Association publishes an impact statement every year for the Farmer’s Market. The staff supporting the Wallingford Market were kind enough to provide a summary for 2017. The summary of general attendance from that report can be seen at right. The report raises as many questions as it answers, but much of the information suggests a successful market. Three thousand people a week spending a little over $20,000 in total with 30 vendors. One area of marginal success is food access. The Food Access portion of the summary provides insight into WIC, SNAP, and Fresh Bucks utilization in Wallingford, and our neighborhood has low utilization of these programs. The cause of which I leave open for the comments.
Seattle prides itself on community engagement and consensus-driven decision making. We followed that process for finding a new location of the farmers market, and people lined up on both sides of the issue. Several years on, we have data and experiences that suggest moving the farmers market was the correct decision. Some of us were correct and some of us were incorrect, and a few of us were quite public in our opinions. Taking strong stands publicly can be difficult to move past, and can even delay evaluating decisions.
This brief coda on the farmers market impact statement is added in anticipation of the inevitable evaluation of HALA and the densification of the city. The Farmers Market was small time compared to HALA. I leave it to the comments what we should watch for over the next few years to evaluate whether densification has worked or not.