Coming to South Tacoma this summer: a new farmers market.
The seasonal market will operate on Sundays, with an opening date of June 20. The market intends to start small with room for less than 40 vendors.Most vendor spaces will be dedicated to farmers selling produce, with space for a few vendors selling prepared foods.
The idea for the market stretches back at least 18 months. Neighbors long have been vocal about attracting either a farmers market or a store with fresh produce to the area.
Organizers got verbal approval Monday for the farmers market to be located in a lot ... at 56th and South Washington, just behind Heritage Bank. "Behind their building, they have a parking lot you can fit about 40 booths in," said Laura Kelsay Edwards, director of Tacoma Farmers Markets, which also operates a seasonal Thursday farmers market on Broadway and Tuesday market on Sixth Avenue
Organizers appreciate that the lot could make for a self-contained market without need to shut down a street, which was the alternative plan if the Heritage Bank lot didn't work.
As for other details, there are plenty to plow through between now andopening day. The list includes hiring a seasonal market manager, findingmore volunteers to help start the market, sorting through vendorapplications, and booking entertainment.
For neighbors like Andrew Mordhorst, a community activist with EdisonNeighbors, the market is a welcome addition to an area that hasn't had a grocery store that sells fresh produce since the Red Apple closed.
"We lost our grocery store; we're considered in a food desert. ... We have a bunch of convenience marts. They just don't fill what the neighborhood needs, said Mordhorst, who has been involved with the South Tacoma market steering committee. Last year, he grew so concerned about the lack of fresh, healthy food in that part of South Tacoma, he and a small group of volunteers took matters into their own hands. They turned a piece of land into a community patch and grew several hundred pounds of produce for the area food bank. They intend to do the same again this year.
Mordhorst said that access to affordable, healthy and locally grown food is good for everyone in the area. He thinks that two kinds of people will shop at the South Tacoma Farmers Market: people in search of an entertainment destination, and low-income residents who need better access to fresh food.
He believes that seniors in the area who no longer drive will be greatlyserved by the market. "Some senior citizens are not driving, they use public transit. It can take up to 30 minutes to get to a market, then an hour or so shopping. Then turn around and another 30-minute return, if they're lucky. You still have to transport your groceries some way from the bus stop to your home," he said. And that's how plenty of people have shopped for produce in that neighborhood for years.
Like other farmers markets in Tacoma, the South Tacoma farmers market will accept EBT, WIC and Senior Vouchers.
For the families in search of a fun outing, entertainment and fresh, healthy food, organizers intend to create a festive market atmosphere, much like the Broadway and Sixth markets. Live music, hot food and other entertainment is planned, Edwards said.
The Thursday Broadway Market opens its farmers market season May 20. The Tuesday Sixth Avenue Market opens its season June 1.
South Tacoma Farmers Market Market day: SundaysOpening: June 20Operating hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.Location: Behind Heritage Bank, in the lot located off of South 56th and South Washington Information here: http://www.tacomafarmersmarket.com/Markets.aspx