Poulsbo Farmers Market to stay at Gateway church this year

Without COVID, music, other activities return

The first Poulsbo Farmers Market of the season is Saturday, and the event will be staying at Gateway Fellowship church through at least this year until a permanent home is found.

As far as the market itself, board president Darice Grass said everything will pretty much be back to normal with no COVID protocols, which allows for more vendor space and the revival of live music and events, features that have been missing the last few years. Additionally, the Kids Club will be back the first Saturday of each month May through October.

“When COVID first hit, it was like you come, you shop, you go,” she said. The Poulsbo Farmers Market runs every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April through December.

One of the things the market prides itself on is the SNAP Market Match program, which matches up to $40 per market visit. Using your SNAP or P-EBT card, you will receive a dollar-for-dollar match in SNAP coupons to spend on fresh fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and vegetable starts. For details go to doh.wa.gov/you-and-your-family/nutrition-and-physical-activity/healthy-eating/snap-match-programs/snap-market-match.

“It’s a pretty amazing program to grow your dollar,” Grass said. “Last year, EBT customers spent more than 27,000 in EBT and SNAP Market Match funds. I can’t stress enough how central it is to how we operate and to ensure that food access is a priority for the market.”

There are 62 stall spaces with about 40 to 50 vendors every Saturday. This year, 86 vendors applied, and 63 were accepted. 23 of those are local farmers, and nine are new vendors. Grass said the market always looks for unique vendors and prioritizes farmers, local producers and returning vendors who receive high demand for their products.

“Another vendor who wants to sell empanadas, they might make amazing empanadas, but we already have empanadas from Argensal so we wouldn’t duplicate in that way,” she explained. “With farmers though, you need duplicates. We need more than one person who has carrots. Berries too; we can never have enough.”

Grass said popular items the first few months of the market include berries, plant starts, wine and hard cider, spring produce, fish, artisan items, eggs, farm-raised meat and honey. She also said there are plenty of options for Easter and Mother’s Day.

Grass said their lease ended at the church last season, and they have opted to extend it on a yearly basis until the market finds a permanent location. She said they have been working with the city to find possible spots. One such place could be the Public Works facility on Iverson Street since that department is soon moving to a new location on Viking Avenue.

While that location wouldn’t be bigger than the church’s footprint, Grass said they want a place where they could own the property and have “free reign over what happens.”

“We have a strong lead for a permanent home that would keep us in Poulsbo,” Grass said. “We and the city are doing our homework on that … to see whether it’s really viable. We’re trying to focus on that in the coming months before we turn our attention. If it’s looking like it’s not going to come together, we will be looking again to relocate the market. There aren’t a lot of options out there.”

As for the Public Works spot, “It has buildings that we could use for indoor, year-round opportunities,” she said. “If we moved there, we would not be able to accommodate all of the parking for the market … but there’s a lot of possible parking partners in that area. We’ve even talked with the church. They’re aware of all of this and have said that we would be able to maintain a relationship where customers could park. There are other lots adjacent that would definitely need to be utilized. Parking and level ground are the hardest things to find for operating a smooth farmers market.”

This will be the sixth year the market has been at the church. Grass said the location is “pretty great” for accessibility and being near the center of town. “We’ve grown a lot since we’ve been in that location, which has made it harder to find space that can really accommodate the market,” she said.