POULSBO — The Poulsbo Farmers Market continues to look for a permanent home. And board members now have some time to continue the search.
The market signed a five-year rent-free lease for space on the west side of Gateway Fellowship’s property and will open there on April 1.
The market will have access to electricity — something missing on the Front Street site it occupied in 2016 — and there are trees for shade. The market will have room for about 65 vendors — 20 more than the Front Street site — as well as more parking and more room for vendors to load and offload product. Visitors will access the market from Hostmark Street and Lincoln Road.
Market board president Floyd Bayless of Sunny Knoll Farm said the city came to the market’s rescue last year when it offered the parking lot in front of the Poulsbo Parks and Recreation building on upper Front Street, after the market had to move from its long-time home on 7th Avenue next to The Doctors Clinic.
“It wasn’t bad,” Bayless said. “The biggest problem was customer parking and access. Overall, for the year, given the number of vendors we had, we did real good.”
Gateway Fellowship was considered as a farmers market site then, “but we were six weeks from opening and couldn’t get the ball rolling fast enough,” Bayless said. “We kept talking with them and [worked out] a five-year lease.”
Since the news got around that the farmers market has a new, larger location, “We’re actually hearing from vendors that did not vend last year,” Bayless said. “We received 35 or more applications as of [March 10].”
Market board member Cliff Wind of Abundantly Green said the new site has more space for vendors and parking, and the availability of electricity means the return of live music; electricity is also handy for vendors.
“We were especially fortunate [to have] the previous site,” Wind said. But the new site offers “improved parking and we’ll be able to accommodate more vendors. It was nice being close to downtown [on Front Street], but we’ll be pretty close [at Gateway]. We’ll have more visibility and more recognition because of the Fellowship there. We hope to reach more people than in the past.”
Dave Fischer, director of outreach at Gateway Fellowship, lives next door to a farmer who’s on the market association board. The neighbor told Fischer the market was looking for a new location and Fischer brought it before the church.
“It’s a great win-win,” Fischer said. “We can help them and it brings people onto our campus. We’re blessed to be a blessing, and we get to share the blessing of this nice facility.”
Meanwhile, the search continues for a permanent farmers market location. “If I had a genie in a lamp, there’d be a million dollars to buy a place,” Wind said.
There is, of course, no genie and no lamp. And no million dollars. So the search goes on.
The market association explored moving to the parking lot at North Kitsap Fishline on Viking Avenue, but that didn’t work out; Fishline has plans to build a comprehensive services center and an expanded food market on the site. Another possibility was the soon-to-be-vacated city public works site at 780 NE Iverson St., but that site is regularly flooded by the south fork of Dogfish Creek and would require too much work to bring structures there up to code.
That site “has no interest to the farmers market,” Bayless said. “The market would be a new use [on the property] and would require a land-use permit. There are setbacks because it’s next to a salmon-bearing creek. The quonset hut building — more than likely the city would not let us keep it there without bringing it up to code.”
Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said she hopes the market can someday find a permanent home.
“I feel a vibrant and alive farmers market is an important part of the community,” she said.
“It’s part of our heritage and the land. It’s a place to go to get great things to eat that are locally produced. It’s entrepreneurial — a lot of businesses have spun off from the farmers market. It’s a good thing to support but it’s not something the council has discussed.”
Wind said the Gateway lease hopefully gives the market association some time to plan for the future.
“We haven’t been able to devote our energies to that vision [of a permanent location],” he said. “But now that we can rest easier, we would hope to be able to start looking at possibilities again.”
KITSAP’S FARMERS MARKETS
Bainbridge Island Farmers Market: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, April 1 to Dec. 16, Town Square/City Hall.
Bremerton Farmers Market: 4-7 p.m. Thursdays, May 4 to Oct. 12, Evergreen Park.
Kingston Farmers Market on the Cove: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, May to mid-October, Mike Wallace Park.
Port Orchard Farmers Market: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, mid-April to mid-October, Port Orchard Waterfront Boardwalk.
Poulsbo Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, April 1 to Dec. 16, Gateway Fellowship, 18901 8th Ave. NE, Poulsbo.
Silverdale Farmers Market: 10 a.m. t0 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays, May 2 to September, Best Buy parking lot, 9551 Ridgetop Blvd. NW, Silverdale.
Suquamish Farmers Market: 3-7 p.m. Wednesdays, May 3 to Sept. 27, across from the Tribal Government Offices.