The 2018 Bellingham Farmers Market season opens with the ceremonial cabbage toss from Mayor Kelli Linville, received skillfully by Sustainable Connections Food and Farming Director, Sara Southerland.
The Bellingham Farmers Market supports local sustainable agriculture by connecting the public with local farmers, artisans, and other producers in an economically viable marketplace.
Mike Finger, the market’s first board president, says the market is more than just a place to buy fresh produce and hand crafted products. He says, “It fosters a social life and acts as a gathering place for friends and family. Not only is it a place for locals to congregate, but the market is also a tourist attraction. The market brings many people to downtown Bellingham that might not come otherwise.” Year after the year the market remains a vibrant gathering place for the community and continues to create a culture of outdoor shopping.
The Bellingham Farmers Market, just a dream in the early 1990’s has become one of the largest markets in Washington State, and a destination location for tourists and locals alike. It began when two Western Washington University students had a vision to have locally grown produce sold in a downtown urban location. They approached local community member, Del Lowry, who worked cooperatively with them to gain the support of several key farmers and city officials. Today Lowry’s efforts are acknowledged as an important contribution to forming the Market.
In 1992, nine board members, consisting of vendors and community members, met weekly to plan the market opening. The initial commitments from farmers and craftspeople allowed the market board to approach the city of Bellingham. City officials saw the market as an investment that could help revive the downtown area and granted the market some start up monies for site improvement, operating materials and market promotion. The City’s assistance and funding did much to secure the successful opening of the market.
The market opened on June 19, 1993 with nearly fifty vendors participating. Mike Finger, the first president of the market and a farmer vendor, initiated a tradition, which persists to this day — on opening day a cabbage is thrown by a city official to a long standing vendor.
In 1994, the Saturday market expanded its season to run from April to October. In the mid 1990’s the Fairhaven Association opened a Wednesday farmers market, at what is now the Fairhaven Village Green. After a number of years, the Bellingham Farmers Market was asked to take over the operation of the Fairhaven Market, expanding on the success of the Saturday Market. These markets have become important venues for farmers and customers alike to connect with fresh produce, prepared foods and crafts.
Depot Market Square