It’s open season for berries, fruit, vegetables and crafts at local farmers markets.
Camano Farmers Market opened on a sunny Tuesday, June 1, at Camano Commons with asparagus, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas and plant starts from the island’s farmers. Crafters joined in with bath bombs, herbal remedies and painted rocks.
Stanwood Farmers Market followed on Friday with local strawberries, plus apples and cherries from Yakima. There were booths with bread, kettle corn and donuts fried on site. Jewelry, bonbons, dog costumes, honey, beeswax figures and colorful bouquets attracted shoppers of all ages.
Farmers markets, like grocery stores, were open in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic as essential businesses. This year’s markets opened to a different scene, with a mix of masked and maskless people now that more residents are vaccinated and restrictions are relaxed.
“There were a lot of rules last year, but we were here,” said Camano farmer Rachel Pigott of Island Harvest Farm. “You can see people’s faces now. People are a little less freaked out, so it’s nice to comfortably be around people again. It reminds you how to be social.”
A young man played tones on a round metal drum while kids ran around in the sun and people hung out al fresco at the nearby restaurants at the Camano Farmers Market.
“I feel like it’s the first day of summer, and it’s just delightful to be out again and see so many smiling faces — because we can now,” said Elaine Breckenridge, the mother of a young farmer. “Everything’s coming alive again.”
Drew Shipman, who attends college in Tacoma, was happy to be at his summer job in Mount Vernon with Schuh Farms. He tended the booth at the markets on Camano and in Stanwood.
“It’s been a long off-season. We’re glad to be here,” he said, noting that he prefers the small local markets in close-knit communities to the crowded city markets.
By the time Friday rolled around, the first wave of local strawberries were ripe and available at several booths at the Stanwood Farmers Market. With three rows of booths, this market is larger and busier than Camano's Tuesday market.
Opening week in Stanwood found vendors chatting happily with regular customers who seek them out each year. While there's no music yet, there was still fun found in browsing the booths and safely gathering in an outdoor place. Families made an outing of it and people brought their dogs along.
Vendors were chatting between booths over asparagus and greens during quiet moments.
Lauren Dillon of Studio Selyn was selling jewelry at the Stanwood market. She said she’s had interesting conversations with people who have been cooped up all year and are happy to be out.
“It’s so refreshing to have interpersonal relationships with people again,” she said.
CAMANO FARMERS MARKET: 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays in the grass circle inside Camano Commons, 848 N. Sunrise Blvd., Camano Island. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
STANWOOD FARMERS MARKET: 2-6 p.m. Fridays behind the Stanwood Police Station, 8727 271st St. NW, Stanwood. Information: stanwoodfarmersmarket.org