Farmers Markets are Critical to Mason County Community
Friday, August 12, 2022
Farmers markets are a favorite venue for folks seeking fresh, locally grown produce. But, in addition to being aisles of vendors shopping for their fruits and vegetables, farmer’s markets are big business. In 2020, the USDA reported that farmers’ markets and Community Supported Agriculture had $739 million in direct-to-consumer sales.
August 7 - 13 is National Farmers Market Week and a perfect opportunity to join the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in promoting and assisting these community treasures.
Farmers markets are critical in areas like Mason County for local job creation and cultivating strong, vibrant communities. Growers selling at local outlets create thirteen full-time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned, while those who do not sell locally create only three. The National Young Farmers Coalition reports that there are 3.5 times as many U.S. farmers over 65 as those under 35. Farmers markets offer a future for farmers, providing rare low-barrier entry points for new farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs to start small and test new products.
Many opportunities exist to support these farmers markets and small businesses in Mason County.
Mason County area residents are fortunate to have an agriculture community committed to providing fresh, healthy produce and meats. The list of markets below is an excellent opportunity to access these products. Additionally, the Mason County Farm Fresh Guide is a comprehensive resource of local farms that market their products for sale directly to consumers.
The Shelton Farmers Market is a forum for small local growers and others to make fresh, local and seasonal produce and handicrafts available to the community and to support farming efforts in Mason County and adjoining counties.
- 306 Railroad Ave, Shelton
- Saturdays, May through October
- 10 am - 3 pm
Visitors support local farmers at the Hoodsport Farmers Market by purchasing their locally sourced produce, fresh clams and oysters. In addition, local crafters and bakers offer their handmade items and bakery goods.
- 24341 U.S. 101, Hoodsport
- First and third Saturday, June - September 3
- 10 am – 5 pm
The Belfair Saturday Market is the place to find local art, sundries, produce and more.
- 22900 WA-3, Belfair
- Saturdays thru September
- 10 am - 4 pm
The Harstine Island Farmers Market is held year-round, outdoors from May through the fall as weather allows, before moving indoors.
- 3371 E Harstine Island Rd N, Shelton
- 10 am – 12 pm
There are plentiful options for consumers to access fresh produce and meats directly from Mason County farms, many of whom attend the farmers markets.
Skokomish Valley Farm is 720 acres owned by several families who provide fresh vegetables and eggs for the local community while supporting a truly local and sustainable food system. Its 20-week CSA program runs from June to October.
Shelton’s Hungry Hollow Farm is a convenient, local and pasture-based alternative to factory farms. The owners offer chicken, eggs, pork, beef and various vegetables for home delivery or farm pickup.
The Thistle and Bristle LLC offers ethically raised hogs, chickens and eggs from its farm in Shelton.
Like the produce they grow and sell, farmers markets, farmers and other agribusiness entrepreneurs need proper nutrients to grow. Along with National Farmers Market Week, the SBA is promoting its collection of resources and tools it provides to help aspiring business owners bring their dreams to reality. A complete list of these, like the Community Navigator Pilot Program, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers and more, can be accessed at the SBA Resource Partners website.
The State of Washington provides guidance for all requirements to operate or participate in a farmers market.
The Regional Markets Progam of the Washington State Department of Agriculture provides guidance, training, resources, and technical assistance to farms and local buyers of Washington agricultural products.