The Kent East Hill Farmers Market is waiting for clearance from the City of Kent before it opens for the 2020 season.
“The city of Kent has canceled or suspended all park activities and programs through the end of May, and could be extending that deadline through June,” said Xavier Wurttele-Brissolesi, the food access coordinator and farm manager for Living Well Kent as well as the manager of the Kent East Hill Farmers Market.
The market was initially supposed to open on May 16 but is now postponing its first market of the year until the third weekend of June.
However if the city of Kent extends its suspension and cancelation of park activities and programs through June, the market will have to wait until July to open.
Once the farmers market does open, there is the problem of keeping everyone safe.
This will be done by making sure there are enough sanitization products such as hand sanitizer, gloves masks, and things of the like. Social distancing will also be practiced at farmers markets.
For safety measures, “We shall be following all of the rules that have been put in place by the state and county,” Wurttele-Brissolesi said.
The Kent East Hill Farmers Market supports immigrant communities by giving local immigrant farmers a place to sell their produce.
The farmers come from many different parts of the world, but most of them are from Africa and the Middle East, Wurttele-Brissolesi said.
The market works to help immigrant farmers and their families.
“What we do for them is give them a space where they can grow crops for their families as long as they are also willing to help our market by selling produce there,” Wurttele-Brissolesi said.
The money that is made from selling produce at the market is kept by the farmers.
“It’s kind of a fully circled system that we have going,” Wurttele-Brissolesi said. “And not only do they get to do something that they truly enjoy but they have the opportunity to make some extra money from it as well.”
Along with giving them space to grow crops, they also provide seeds, tools, and access to water. The immigrant farmers have a space to grow crops for their families and the farmers market, as well as a “space to grow culturally significant foods for themselves,” Wurttele-Brissolesi said.
The postponement of opening the market has affected Living Well Kent, but not the farmers who sell their produce, he said.
“It has had a significant impact on LWK just because of the main unknowns we have about when exactly we can open; if we should even open because we are trying to figure out how we will be able to follow the new guidelines,” Mr. Wurttele-Brissolesi said.
While the opening of the market brings uncertainties for Living Well Kent, it doesn’t have the same effect for the farmers.
“As for the farmers, it does not have much of an impact. They use our space more as a side project when they have time away from their work life. The market is an opportunity to make a little extra money but nothing too significant since we are still a very small market,” Wurttele-Brissolesi said. The farmers generally don’t depend on the market for their livelihoods.
The Kent East Hill Farmers Market is located at Morrill Meadows Park 10600 SE 248th St.