Monday, April 30, 2012

The Arlington Depot

Ta Dah! The new Arlington Depot visitor facility and restroom is open!

This is great news for those of us who hang out at Legion Park all day on summer Saturdays for obvious reasons--a bathroom, thank you!

Come find our farmers' market poster and announcements here!

But it's also a visitor center that will become a hub for what's happening in Arlington, with public bulletin board space, a free meeting room, and a literature rack that is soon to be filled with tri-fold brochures from every organization in Arlington: Arts Council to Zephyr Club. (Is there a Zephyr Club? No. But it's A-Z. You get the idea.)

Last Saturday was the grand opening of the depot building, with a Centennial Trail bike ride to kick it off. There were representatives of the city, school district, farmers' market (of course) and even our state representative Kirk Pearson out to celebrate the day.

Just before the ribbon was cut, councilwoman Marilyn Oertle told the story of the historic Arlington Depot--a train depot right in downtown Arlington that served as the entry point for decades to passengers coming to the area. Our new Arlington Depot is built for the same purpose--to welcome visitors, serve as a stop on not a railroad line but a bike trail, and to provide amenities to visitors and residents alike. Though it's probably safe to say the amenities are much nicer nowadays, as Mayor Tolbert joked in her speech.

Festivities included vintage cars and farm equipment, along with a live band!

We at the Arlington Farmers' Market would like to say THANK YOU again to everyone who made the depot building a reality. We feel confident that our patrons with potty training toddlers also feel the same. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cottage Law Update: Draft Rule is Published!

In February, we posted a blog about Washington state's cottage foods law, which was still in the rule-making process, and how excited we were that this new law would change the face of small farmers' markets.

Update! The rule-making process is closer to completion, and last week, the draft rule was posted to the WSDA's website. You can read it here, but we'll give you the rundown on the important points so you don't have to slog through the whole thing like we did!

Only non-potentially hazardous foods are allowed to be made in home kitchens: bread, baked goods with no custard, jam, candy, roasted coffee beans, granola, fruit butter, infused vinegar, pies, cookies, and the like. Nothing can require refrigeration or heating to remain safe for consumption, so no foods can contain dairy or meat (with a few exceptions, such as frosting stabilized by high sugar content). Cottage processors must submit all recipes with their application for approval.

Home kitchens must be inspected and meet qualifications: home processors must have the ability to sterilize all utensils, jars, etc, either by setting up a three-compartment system with a large bucket next to a two-compartment sink, or by a home dishwasher. Those on private water need to show proof that their water is not contaminated. All cottage food ingredients and finished products must be stored separately from household food, including refrigeration. Pets and children under 6 must be kept from the kitchen during processing hours. And an inspector will come from the WSDA to verify all of the above, plus that the diagram you send in of your kitchen with your cottage processor application is correct.

Cottage processors can only sell small-scale, face-to-face: yearly sales can not be more than $15,000, and cottage foods can only be sold to the end consumer, face-to-face, at farmers' markets, bazaars, fairs, and the like. There can be no online sales or sales over state lines. Everything must be prepackaged and labeled, with ingredients and allergens listed in the familiar format you see on grocery store goods, and the wording "made in a home kitchen not subject to standard inspection requirements" must appear on the label.

Whew! You stuck it through the regulations!  There's much more to the rule than this summary, and we recommend that anyone considering applying for a cottage foods license read the full rule on the WSDA's website, but these are the basics. 

Applications for this rule should be available on July 1st, but as the WSDA anticipates getting a lot of these, they recommend applying as soon as possible, as it may take up to a month to finish the inspection, approve recipes, and be granted a license.

For more information, also keep your eye out for the May issue of Grow Northwest Magazine--our own Samantha Schuller, who does community outreach for the AFM, researched the Cottage Foods law and wrote an article all about it. 

And of course, feel free to contact us any time for more information or with questions about being a vendor at the AFM. We hope to see lots of new talented bakers, jammers, and food artisans in Arlington this year! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Legion Park Gets a Rain Garden!

Did you know that the water that goes into stormwater grates goes through no treatment at all before being diverted back into the river? It carries 140,000 pounds of oil residue, herbicide, pesticide, soap, pet waste, and other pollutants straight into Snohomish County's rivers--per day. That's about half an ounce per day per resident, but given that there are 4.4 million of us, it really adds up. The Shomomish Conservation District's goal is for Puget Sound to have 12,000 rain gardens by 2016 to reduce this problem. Visit 12,000 Rain Gardens to learn what you can do and to see where rain gardens are already installed.

Conservation District's Stacy Aleksich directing plant placement for Legion Park's new rain garden

Saturday, April 14, we met a volunteer work party at Legion Park, aka the farmers' market park, to help the district install a rain garden next to the new bathroom facilities. In perfect sunny weather, we dug in hearty native plants and suitable cultivars (many of them donated by our own Garden Treasures organic farm & nursery!), watered and mulched them, and stepped back to view a beautiful, functional solution to an environmental need.

Farmers' market managers Samantha Schuller and 
Audrey Houston, with 4-year-old market kiddo Tegan

Check it out the next time you're on Centennial Trail or at the farmers' market!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Outdoors NW Magazine Names Farmers Markets As Snohomish county's Best Destinations

Outdoors NW Magazine recently contacted us with some questions about Snohomish County farmers' markets. Hilary Meyerson of Outdoors NW asked Samantha Schuller our own Arlington Farmers' Market Communications Director a little about our farmers market. Samantha is quoted in their 2012 Event Guide as saying "What a good farmers' market should do is help to foster a relationship between healthy families, seasonal food and the community as a whole". GO SAMANTHA! To me farmers' markets bring so much to a community besides just something to put into your mouth (though you may see me walk across hot coals for farm fresh organic peaches or raspberries). We view our community market as a hub of family friendly activity. come out during the season with your family and meet your community farmers, walk in the sunshine, buy local, organic, affordable, seasonal food (the best kind of food!). Get inspired by your community, chat with your neighbors, and make new friends!