Highline College

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Kent Farmers Market season may not happen

While farmers markets are opening up, COVID-19 is creating challenges that may lead the Kent Framers Market to not open.

Marta Barlow Staff Reporter May 21

The Kent farmers market season, which typically runs from June to September, may not happen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tentative opening date has changed due to the pandemic. Instead of opening in June, the market will open July 11.

“If we do not have a good show [of vendors] we may have to re-evaluate and we may not continue for the season,” said Judy Brenden, the market manager of the Kent Farmers Market.

The reason there may be a low amount of vendors attending the farmers market is due to the fact that only those who are deemed as an essential business can participate in the market, and it will be expensive for those essential businesses to participate.

For the vendors to attend the market they have to get their own wash station and have it at the farmers market. At the wash station, there needs to be soap, single-use sanitary paper towels, and hot running water.

“It’s a big expense,” Brenden said.

While it may be more expensive to attend as a vendor than before, it is the best way to keep the vendors, volunteers, and customers safe.

If not enough vendors decide to participate in the market, then the Kent Lions Club, which is the volunteer organization that runs the market, may re-evaluate whether to continue the season.

“It’s a lot of work to set up,” Brenden said.

To set up the market, the Kent Lions Club volunteers have to set roadblocks in the morning. After this, then the vendors have to set up.

Another reason the Kent Lions Club may re-evaluate the season is that many of the volunteers are older and are at a higher risk of getting sick. With many of those volunteers deciding to stay home, there are fewer people to help set up and run the market.

The pandemic has affected whether the farmers market will be open for the season, and it has also affected the farmers and vendors who work at the market.

“As far as the devastation, it’s hitting everyone very very hard,” Brenden said.

As crafters are not an essential business they won’t be able to attend the farmers market, which some depend on.

“Some of the craftspeople, this is their livelihood. … This is very devastating for them,” Brenden said.

But, crafters are not the only ones struggling. The farmers who depended on the market to open in June will also be affected.

However, to support some of the farmers, the Kent Lions Club has chosen to buy produce from eight of the farmers who attend the market. The produce will then be donated to the Kent Food Bank.

“They [the Kent Food Bank] will be getting $5,000 a week of produce,” Brenden said.

This helps the farmers, as they are still getting money and selling their produce, and it will be providing those who get food from the Kent Food Bank with fresh produce.

“Our main goal is to reach out and provide to the community,” Brenden said.

The Kent Farmers Market is located at Town Square Plaza, Second Avenue and Smith Street, Kent.