Farmers market to open May 4 after two years of setbacks
Coinciding with the arrival of beautiful sunny days, the widely anticipated Sammamish Farmers Market will open on Wednesday, May 4, with dozens of vendors at Sammamish Commons for its fifteenth year.
Despite setbacks due to conflicts between the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce, the organizer of the market, and the city council over the past two years, the farmers market will continue to serve the community by providing fresh products from around Washington state.
The market began in 2008 as a Wednesday night event focused on serving Sammamish and the local area. This year’s market will retain the Wednesday night format, opening each week until Sept. 14 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. The market will feature dozens of farmers, artisans, bakeries, florists, and more.
The local community will be a big contributor to this year’s market, which features local music groups and organizations performing on each market day. Volunteers from high schools and the general community are also critical for keeping the market up and running.
The past two years, however, have not been kind to the Sammamish Farmers Market. The market was held outside of Sammamish city limits after then-mayor Karen Moran pressured Eastside Catholic School to cancel it due to COVID-19 concerns in 2020, even as many communities around Sammamish kept their farmers markets running.
In 2021, conflicts with city council over financial reports almost prevented the market from happening. The council also declined to provide financial support in 2021, when in previous years, it subsidized the market with $10,000 in funding.
The market is still running without the city’s financial support this year, relying on the support of its vendors and volunteers instead.
From a business standpoint, the pandemic led to a decrease in vendors from 44 to around 25, including the loss of popular bakeries and florists.
“So we’re building again,” said Deborah Sogge, the executive director of the Chamber, in an interview with the Sammamish Independent. “It’s almost like starting over.”
Fortunately for Sammamish residents, the approval process for the market went smoothly this year.
The city council, with three newly elected members, unanimously approved it at the Jan. 4 council meeting, allowing the Chamber to host the farmers market at Sammamish Commons once again.
Sogge said that the setbacks and conflicts with the council in the past two years were primarily due to miscommunications around revenue from the market. While the city council had concerns over profits for the Chamber, Sogge said the market always just made enough to break even. She adds that the Chamber strives to work together with city council to serve the community, and they were working on clearing up the miscommunication.
For visitors, Sogge recommends learning about the market at the info booth and trying out the variety of different foods offered by market vendors. Gifts and recipes for newcomers will be provided for free in the market’s later months.
Sogge said the farmers market is working to ensure sanitary conditions. While masks and vaccinations are no longer required, handwashing stations will be available, and handwashing is mandatory for anyone serving food. Additionally, all the vendors at the market have their own commercial kitchens, with their food preparation checked over by the health department.
“I really want to see people at the farmer’s market, which is my happy place,” Sogge said. “Hopefully, it will become yours too.”
Sammamish Farmers Market will open every Wednesday, between May 4 and Sept. 14, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. It is located at Sammamish Commons.