Labor Day weekend is traditionally considered to be the beginning of the end of summer. Even though the official first day of autumn isn’t until Sept. 22, by now the kids are going back to school and already the edges of the leaves are beginning to take on a reddish-orange hue.
So it was that on the eve of the last big summer weekend, the food and drink website “The Daily Meal” released their nation-wide list of the 101 best farmers markets in the country, perhaps hoping to encourage people to get out there and shop local while the weather still allows.
Bainbridge Island was ranked number 62.
It’s an undeniable achievement for a relatively small farmers market located on an island of just more than 23,000 people (according to the 2012 Census).
Some, however, are not surprised at the recognition.
“This is one of the most localized markets in the state,” said Bainbridge market manager Tim O’Brien. “Every vendor is from the island or within a few miles of the island.”
Indeed, the market is known for its adherent to the founding mission of keeping things as local as possible, done through an intense focus on immediately local fare and a strict jurying process.
“Most markets sell things from around the state,” said Rebecca Slattery, one of the market founders and owner of Persepone Farm in Indianola. “All the farmers are here, there’s no reselling.”
O’Brien agrees that the presence of the farmers themselves, and not just vendors, puts the Bainbridge market in a higher class.
“It really connects the residents to our local food system,” he said. “We have such a tight-knit community who want their dollars to stay as close as possible.”
Others credit the market’s success to a more educated and involved consumer base.
“There are a lot of people here with a high awareness of great produce,” said Charles Schafer, who was representing the West Sound Beekeepers Association at their informational booth. “They like to support the farmers.”
Along with Pike Place, which topped the list and was named the best farmers market in the entire country, also in the ranking from Washington was the Tacoma Farmers Market (10th), Vancouver Farmers Market (19), Jefferson County Farmers Market (47), Port Orchard Farmers Market (63), Olympia Farmers Market (71), the Bayview Farmers Market on Whidbey Island (84) and the Sequim Open Aire Market (89).
The Bainbridge Island Farmers Market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 13 to Nov. 16 in the town square at city hall every Saturday. For more information visit www.bainbridgefarmersmarket.org.
For a complete national list of the best farmers markets, visit http://www.thedailymeal.com.