By Kate Scriven
It’s finally arrived. For three full months of winter, we have waited for our beloved Olympia Farmers Market to re-open. The stalls will fill and the bell will ring on the traditional first Thursday of April. Beginning April 4, the Olympia Farmers Market will be open through October. You can find local vendors from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm Thursday – Sunday. In November and December, the Market shifts to being open only on Saturday and Sunday.
What are you anticipating? Maybe it’s the re-opening of a favorite lunch spot within walking distance of work. Or perhaps it’s the conversation with a farmer while selecting local product. Or simply a safe outdoor space to visit with your children for a day of entertainment. Regardless, we all share a sense of anticipation and excitement as we approach the Olympia Farmers Market Opening Day.
Let’s check in with Market Assistant Director, Ashley Powell, who shares something old, something new, something borrowed and something (hopefully) blue that you can find at the Olympia Farmers Market this season.
This year’s Market will look and feel just about the same. This is a good thing for us creatures of habit. You’ll be able to visit the booths of your favorite farmers, catch up on their winter season and enjoy an early spring harvest of tender greens and overwintered root vegetables. Add golden jars of honey to replenish your supply. Discover a new cheese. Source tender bedding plants, perennials and vegetable starts for your garden. Talk to a trusted source for handcrafted and unique gifts.
For our family, a trip wouldn’t be complete without a “Gingerbread Girl” from San Francisco Street Bakery or a free apple from the fruit vendors. I look forward to the return of colorful hanging baskets for my porch. I may have to wait a bit, but they always appear!
Along with favorite vendors, daily entertainment will be back. Local musicians, balloons for the kids, and face painting on the weekends add to the festive atmosphere that pervades the Olympia Farmers Market.
This year, the Market is pleased to have five new farmers. All vendors must live within 100 miles of the downtown Olympia market location and personally grow or create their wares. It is always a boost to obtain new farmer members.
“The market needs to maintain a majority percentage of local farmed products to remain a true Farmers Market, so this is great news for us,” shares Powell. Plan to visit the new corn farmer. Chomping locally grown sweet corn is a summer must, but it has not been widely available at the market until now.
“Probably the most exciting new addition for me,” says Powell, “is that we are getting a new restaurant!” Longtime Market patrons know that the wonderful restaurants at the Market have not changed in over 10 years, so this is big news. Italian Restaurant, Zia Betta, has been sold and we can look forward to a new Greek restaurant in its place. “We’ll have gyros, salads, pitas at the market now…something we’ve never had before,” shares Powell. The transition was extremely smooth since the new restaurant is owned by a longtime Market board member and vendor. The name is still under wraps, but look for this exciting new addition on Opening Day!
If you live in Western Washington, you know it’s pretty tough to grow a good peach. However, it’s easy to eat one, juicy and sweet on a hot summer day. With this in mind the Market makes an exception to their 100 mile rule and borrows some sunshine from east of the mountains in the form of delicious fruit. Peaches, plums, apples, cherries, and pears all appear in season at the two fruit vendors, capping the ends of the Market. The vendors, including Sullivan’s Homestead, travel east, meet the farmers and tour the orchards to choose the best produce for our Market.
We truly hope for something blue to appear overhead when we visit the Market. However, when the skies are grey, the Market is still a great place to be. With an enclosed, permanent facility, covered picnic tables for eating, and indoor restrooms, the Market is accessible even when the skies aren’t blue.
The facility permits the Olympia Farmers Market season to be extended longer than any other farmers market in the state. The Market is also pleased to be the largest true farmers market in the state.
“One of the reasons we are such a big part of the Olympia community is that we aren’t just a place to come shop, we are a meeting place,” says Powell. “With seven restaurants, live music, and something new to see every day, we are a place to hang out and spend time with friends. You always run into someone you know at The Market.”
700 N. Capitol Way
Olympia, WA 98501
Olympia Farmers Market Hours – 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Thursday – Sunday from April 4 through October 27
Saturday and Sunday during the months of November and December
A few bonus links related to life around the Olympia Farmers Market:
- For information about farm share boxes, or community supported agriculture (CSA), click here.
- Electric Vehicle parking near the Market can be found here.
- Olympia locals like to start a run from the Market parking lot. Find more information here.
Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at email@example.com. For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.