Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thanks for a great workshop!

This past Saturday, the 23rd, we held our Cottage Foods Workshop in Arlington to help folks get started in the local food biz by utilizing Washington's new Cottage Foods Law.

We had a great day, with passionate attendees bringing innovative thinking to the discussions and activities. It was a great session for the farmers' market to host, and we look forward to more workshops like it in the future!

Some of the hot topics of the workshop:

  • The Cottage Foods Law needs some great advocates to help improve it for future years; we are working on an e-group that will be open to anyone who has suggestions to make the law more consistent, convenient, and profitable.
  • Marketing is a must to help your local food biz succeed. You might have the tastiest bread this side of the Mississipi--but you've got to catch a consumer's eye before they even get a taste!
  • Plan smart--get yourself a circle of reliable experts who can help you fill in holes in your toolkit. These can be other business owners, accountants, lawyers, and web pros. 
  • Do yourself a favor: expect to succeed!

We'd like to thank Fred Berman of the WSDA, whose comments and insights were a frank look at the pros and cons of the law as it stands, Tamila Morgan of UrbanFarm Naturals for sharing some of her hard-won tips and lessons on marketing, Carolyn Eslick of Grow Washington for introducing us to smart business plan ideas, and the city of Arlington for the use of the public meeting space in the Arlington Depot building!

We hope you'll join us for future workshops!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Renewed Love For Arlington!

We took off, fueled the car and left, with nothing but dreams of sun and wind in our hair (Read: planned and organized for weeks, made reservations and confirmations, made arrangements for our dog and scheduled for some maintenance on our home, and at the scheduled time of departure, after the car was packed, check and re-checked, and everyone had gone to the bathroom twice, and double checked the house, we drove away--wait, did I turn off the stove?)!

The boys watching a movie... "Are we there yet?" "No honey we have about 18 hours still!"
We drove about 2600 miles, which sounds like a lot but we had so much fun the days pretty much flew by. We spent the majority of our vacation in Palm Springs, CA with some dear friends. Along the way there and back we hit a few farmers markets, each reflecting the personality of the community in which the markets were located.

We, dear friends, WE, have the best farmers market of all (insert huge hug for our farmers, craft vendors and supporters!). We even visited one of the markets on the "Top 10 Markets in America" list....Arlington farmers market wins hands down! It was fun to see other markets, how they run, who attends, what they can grow, and sell (cactus!) how the different farmers view their role in local community food, but Arlington, Washington truly has the advantage.

Fantastic display in Portland, their Saturday market is so busy, we could hardly walk!

Some of the larger metropolitan markets were there to serve foodies and chefs. Some were located in communities that didn't really have farmers near by who grow edible food (funny enough), their farmers grow CAFO meats or commodity corn for huge processors and those markets have produce trucked in and sold by wholesalers! Some communities had markets located in areas that are so hot that they can't really sell "delicate" products like lettuce or berries, and their markets close early in the day, before lunch even! Some were so crowded (it was great to see so many supporters of local food in one place) you couldn't really walk and had to be aggressive to receive vendors' attention. It was not really a "know your farmer" kind of day.

To each his own, each community has different needs for sure. Our market days are just ahead, starting Saturday July 7th at 10:00am. Same perfect location--Legion Park (200 N. Olympic Ave). I can't wait! There is so much to look forward to!

Farmers' market organizers Samantha on the left, and me, Audrey, on the right

This year the AFM partnered with the Arlington Library, and the market will host story time every Saturday at 10:30 am. We have community members pitching in to provide a free bouncy house July 7th and July 21st. We have a local kids drama group performing September 1st, local music, community connection, education and advocacy, and wait for it...... LOCAL FOOD!

Won't you come out in support of your community and all it has to offer!?! Your farmers, artists, entrepreneurs, community groups, and friends will be there waiting to feed you, entertain you, and visit with you.

Opening day--July 7th, 10:00am, at 200 North Olympic (Legion Park).
 Warm from the sun berries, crisp lettuce, fresh carrots, sweet local honey, jams, gifts, and indulgences!

Arlington Farmers Market
Local food, strong communities!