Profile: Jefferson County Farmers Markets

      Posted On: August 5, 2022

For #FarmersMarketWeek, we are featuring a few amazing markets across the nation that are doing impactful work in their communities. Next up is Jefferson County Farmers Markets in Washington.

Port Townsend Farmers Market – Photo by Andrew Wiese

1. What is the mission of your market?

The Jefferson County Farmers Markets (JCFM) support local farmers and artisans with vibrant marketplaces that cultivate community and provide access to healthy food for all.

2. Where are your farmers from? Where is the market located?

We operate two farmers markets in Jefferson County, Washington: Port Townsend Farmers Market and Chimacum Farmers Market. Our Port Townsend Farmers Market is the only incorporated city in our mostly rural county, and the Chimacum Farmers Market is located in one of our primarily agricultural communities neighboring many of the farms that participate. The majority of the farmers and other vendors that participate in our markets are from Jefferson County. With a strong local agricultural and arts community, Jefferson County growers get first priority on market space. All of our market vendors travel no more than 30 miles to our markets. This is one of the things that sets our markets apart from many of the other farmers markets in our region, which include vendors from further away.

3. Tell us about the history of your market and its growth.

Our Port Townsend Farmers Market operates Saturdays April-mid December, and the Chimacum Farmers Market operates Sundays, June-October. The Port Townsend Farmers Market (PTFM) celebrates 30 years of operation this season! Farmers founded it in 1992 in a downtown parking lot near the city hall.

The PTFM moved to uptown Port Townsend in 2003 where it has grown to take up a full city block with three rows of vendors. After two years of smaller than usual markets in 2020-21, we have close to 80 participating vendors this year offering products from fresh produce, pasture-raised meat, eggs, and fish to artisan-prepared food, arts, and crafts. We also provide booth space for a rotation of Jefferson County nonprofits, as well as public health, city, and county groups.

The Chimacum Farmers Market (CFM) was founded by the Chimacum Grange in 2008. In 2010, JCFM adopted the Chimacum Farmers Market to support its growth and sustainability. This season, the CFM has almost 30 vendors.

4. How has your market helped your local community?

Our markets help our community in several ways:

  • Providing direct-to-consumer sales space that brings the community together and fosters strong relationships between growers, makers, and shoppers. In this, we support our local economy and help establish farming as a growing industry in our community.
  • Business incubation. Our markets are the starting place for new businesses every year. Looking around our community, a dozen or more businesses that got started at the market now operate brick-and-mortar stores. Still, more businesses have grown from a single-owner operator to employing a team supporting our local economy and the viability of small businesses in our rural community. JCFM supports this business development through ongoing marketing and by providing annual vendor training.
  • Supporting nutritious food access for community members with low incomes. We offer three food assistance programs: SNAP Market Match in partnership with the WA Department of Health, WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Assistance Program (FMNP) match (a $25 match per household per season), and a fruit and vegetable prescription program (VegRx) in partnership with our local critical needs hospital. In combination, these programs helped about 500 households bring home $86,336 in food from our markets last season. 
  • Market inclusion for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). JCFM recognizes that systemic racism and white supremacy create barriers that impede BIPOC from starting new businesses. We are in our second season of offering small grants to new BIPOC-owned market businesses to help cover some of the costs of getting started at our markets. Recipients choose how to spend these funds on growing their business. This year, we have one participant business — La Cocina Port Townsend. They are an authentic Mexican restaurant and tortilla and salsa vendor at our Port Townsend Farmers Market. This project is led in partnership with recipients and participants in the program offering feedback about how to strengthen and grow this program in the best service of BIPOC in our community. Learn more about the BIPOC Start-Up Business Fund here.
  • Live music and culinary education. JCFM also offers free weekly live music at our markets. At the PTFM, we additionally offer monthly cooking demonstrations. These programs make live music and culinary education accessible to people from all backgrounds.

5. What are some achievements or milestones of your market that you are most proud of?

  • 30 years of operating the PTFM, 12 years of the CFM
  • Over $86k in combined food access sales last season empowering community members to bring home nutritious, locally grown food and supporting market farmers
  • Over 100 vendors this season between our two markets (that is pretty good for our rural/semi-rural community)

6. What support do you need to thrive? 

We need financial support to help our food access, BIPOC Start-Up Business Fund, and arts and education programs continue and flourish. People can donate through our website:

7. What makes your market special? Are there any themes or unique products that your market offers? 

When we say local, we really mean local. What you find at the market has traveled no more than 30 miles. For a small community, we offer a wealth of products– hand-made tortillas and tortilla chips, soy-free tempeh, goat cheese, hard cider and wine, a diversity of seasonal fruits and vegetables, pasture-raised meat, and eggs. 

Learn more about Jefferson County Farmers Market on their website, Facebook, and Instagram