Bellingham Farmers Market kicks off 31st season
April 1, 2023 at 2:41 p.m.
Booths of tulips, vegetables and fresh pastries filled Depot Market Square Saturday, April 1, as vendors and community members gathered for the season opening of the Bellingham Farmers Market.
By 10 a.m., all eyes were on Mayor Seth Fleetwood to kick the market off with its annual tradition: an opening cabbage toss.
The celebration marks the return of a weekly market running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through the third week of December. This year, Bellingham Farmers Market Director Lora Liegel chose an opening theme of “being a good neighbor.”
“It's not just us who are contributing to the downtown, it's our neighboring businesses as well,” Liegel said. “And we really feel like when one of us does well, others are more likely to succeed in making the downtown a vibrant, thriving space for everyone.”
In the spirit of the theme, Liegel invited neighboring business owners Janet Lightner of Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro and Devin Champlin of Champlin Guitars to share opening remarks before handing things over to the mayor.
Dozens watched as Fleetwood sent a vibrant purple cabbage airborne and into the hands of this year’s designated catcher — a hula-hooping youngster named Avelene. With that, the first market of the season was underway.
Liegel said roughly 120 vendors will participate in the market over the course of the coming season. Some, like Good Graces Soaps & Salves, Golden Fern Adornments and Wild Material, are brand new to the market. Others, like Dona Flora, have been around since the very beginning.
In addition to supporting these vendors, Liegel hopes to continue community programming at the market. Potential programs include a flower festival, kids’ vending day and the Fill Your Pantry program, which encourages customers to buy in bulk.
The Bellingham Farmers Market has also been working to grow and spread awareness of its food access programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Market Match, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). This year, FMNP will switch from a paper voucher system to an electronic one.
Liegel said she’s interested in creating a network of farmers markets in Whatcom and Skagit counties, with the hope of eventually applying for grants and doing targeted outreach through a multicultural or multilingual campaign to spread the word about food access programs.
She’s already been working closely with the Lynden Farmers Market to create a Google group where other farmers markets can join and share information.
“Ultimately, I really hope that we might be a part of something greater,” Liegel said. “When we work together, we tend to do better — all of us.”