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Weekend Cover Story

Finding the right farmers market

South Sound full of unique spots with fresh goods

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:40PM August 8th, 2013
Finding the right farmers market

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Fresh, local produce is just the start at area farmer's markets. Many offer other items like flowers, live entertainment and cooking classes.

There’s something for you at the farmers market.

But which one?

Farmers markets steadily have grown in the South Sound during the past decade, and each has unique characteristics.

Fresh, local produce is just the start.

Tacoma’s market is one of the largest in the area, with an average of 80 vendors at the Broadway Market.

It’s one of three markets Tacoma Farmers Market holds each week through September.

The others, 6th Avenue and South Tacoma, are smaller and newer.

“There’s a different flavor at each market,” Vendor Coordinator Kayla Waldorf said.

South Tacoma

South Tacoma’s is closest to JBLM, but also is the smallest with 25 vendors, Waldorf said. Housed at the STAR Center on Sundays, the 4-year-old market makes it easy for parents to give kids something to do while they shop. There also is live entertainment and cooking classes.

South Tacoma opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. The market starts earlier in the year than the other markets — April through September.

A unique feature of the market is the fresh crepes served up by Waffle Express and Crepery, a Graham business that uses local ingredients in all its baking.

The STAR Center is at 3873 S. 66th St.

Broadway

Broadway is the main market, stretched between 9th and 11th streets along Broadway in downtown Tacoma. The market has popular hot food vendors: Gateway To India, Philly This and newcomer The Black Flag to entice downtown workers and hungry shoppers.

The market dazzles with its low-priced fresh bouquets available at multiple flower stalls along the street. Wood, leather, yarn, chocolate, bakery, pasta, honey and handmade soap products also are available.

Broadway is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., May through October, There are two parking garages downtown within walking distance of the market. You also can park your car at the Tacoma Dome and ride the Tacoma Link light rail.

6th Avenue

Waldorf said people have told her the 6th Avenue Market is their favorite. Nestled along 6th Avenue in the heart of Tacoma, it features about 30 to 35 vendors each week. The 6th Avenue neighborhood is picturesque, but also has many shops to stop and eat at during market hours.

The market goes from 3 to 7 p.m., but has the shortest schedule of the three, running from May to September each year.

Find it at the corner of 6th Avenue and Pine Street.

More South Sound Farmers Markets

Yelm Farmers Market

Location: 17835 Highway 507 SE

Hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays

Duration: June 9 through October

Vendors: About 20

Age: 2 years

Big Difference: Started by JBLM spouse Geana Henkes, the market is hosted by Nisqually Springs Farm, a 250-acre certified organic farm near the Nisqually River, complete with corn maze.

Puyallup Farmers Market

Location: 330 S Meridian (Pioneer Park), Puyallup

Hours: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays

Duration: April 13 to Oct. 20

Vendors: About 180

Age: 32 years

Big Difference: The largest, it also has a new evening market 3-7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Proctor Farmers’ Market

Location: N 27th Ave. and Proctor St., Tacoma

Hours: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays

Duration: March 31-Dec. 21

Vendors: About 50

Age: Around 20 years

Big Difference: Three stages of live music, occasional special events.

Lakewood Farmers Market

Location: 6000 Main St. SW

Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays

Duration: June 4 to Sept. 17

Vendors: 30

Age: 2 years

Big Difference: Many of its farmers are from Eastern Washington, and some bring Asian-themed produce.

Olympia Farmers Market

Location: 700 N Capitol Way

Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Thursday through Sunday

Duration: April through October, then weekends for November and December

Vendors: Around 70

Age: Supporting nonprofit organization established 18 years ago (1995).

Big Difference: Largest market around the Olympia area.

Steilacoom Farmers Market

Location: Corner of Lafayette and Wilkes Streets

Hours: 3-7 p.m. Wednesdays

Duration: Through August

Vendors: Around 50

Age: 5 years

Big Difference: A social atmosphere, where the community can connect.

West Olympia Farmers’ Market

Location: 1515 Harrison Way NW

Hours: 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays

Duration: May-October

Vendors: 15

Age: 3 years

Big Difference: Keeps its scale small to provide its young and beginning producers help to establish their businesses.

Stadium Fare

Location: 20 Tacoma Ave. S

Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., every other Saturday

Duration: Aug. 17 and 31; Sept. 14 and 28

Vendors: Several dozen

Age: Unknown

Big difference: Not a farmers market in the traditional sense, the Stadium Fare does feature several fresh food vendors and plenty of entertainment. It's located in the historic Stadium District of downtown Tacoma.