Cho Lee gathers flowers for arrangements before the opening of the Mukilteo Farmers Market at Mukilteo Lighthouse Park in 2016. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Cho Lee gathers flowers for arrangements before the opening of the Mukilteo Farmers Market at Mukilteo Lighthouse Park in 2016. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Mukilteo Farmers Market will take the summer off

Organizers are seeking new volunteers, and a manager is needed to reboot the market.

MUKILTEO — The weekly Wednesday aroma of kettle corn won’t waft through the waterfront this year.

Also missing will be the booths of colorful produce, bodacious flowers and wares by crafters.

The Mukilteo Farmers Market is taking this summer off because there aren’t enough volunteers to staff it.

“People like the idea of a market, but nobody wants to commit to a market,” said market board treasurer Mimi Landsberg, a Mukilteo certified public accountant.

“In the last few years we tried to get more volunteers,” she said. “It got to the point where we only had three or four day-of volunteers we could consistently count on. My family is three-fifths of the board.”

Her son, Jacob, a law school student, is the board president and her daughter, Sarah, is director at large.

Bear Charles Summers, the market’s manager and only paid position, died unexpectedly in September, three weeks before the end of the season.

Even if there is an overwhelming response to keep the market open this year, it is too late for the 2019 season, she said.

The Mukilteo market first opened in July 2004. In recent years it has been at Lighthouse Park.

That’s also the site of the popular annual Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival, which faced an uncertain future due to lack of volunteers and money. Not to worry. Plans are under way for the 2019 event in September because of people stepping up.

Landsberg said finances aren’t a factor at this point, though there was a decline in the numbers of vendors paying the $25 weekly booth rate. Booth revenue decreased 22 percent from 2017 to 2018.

“We have money in the bank,” she said.

Labor is the main issue.

The market is an event, like any other event, she said. “But this is an event that happens 18 times. An average summer is 18 weeks.”

She turned to city officials for help.

Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said the city could not take over the market.

“We don’t have the capacity to add it this year,” Gregerson said. “I think it makes more sense to be a community-run project.”

Many residents pitch in by putting signs in their yard advertising the market.

“People really appreciate the opportunity to get fresh food, talk to the farmers (and) have a festive experience down at the waterfront,” Gregerson said. “I think people will miss it. I hope that it helps get it revitalized.”

Landsberg said the market attracts nonresidents.

“A lot are on the ferry. We get people walking over from their cars. We get a lot of tourists. People come down to see the lighthouse and see the market. In the summer, people are coming down for the beach,” Landsberg said.

Last summer’s food stamps program Fresh Bucks required getting ZIP codes from shoppers. Of these, few were Mukilteo residents, she said. “These are people following the farmers markets to get the food.”

Even with the decrease in booths, she said, there were about 30 to 35 setting up shop at the Wednesday market.

“A portion were crafters, not farmers. And another portion were food vendors. We had a bakery, kettle corn; in summer, frozen yogurt and Hawaiian ice.”

The market was able to use the space at no cost through a grant, which also covered a limited number of free parking spaces. “A nice perk,” Landsberg said.

Otherwise, nonresidents would have to pay to park.

Landsberg said volunteer duties include more than monitoring the spaces, lending a hand to vendors and running the information booth.

“Three years ago we started participating in a program that allows (food stamps) patrons to swipe their EBT card at a machine and get tokens for it,” she said. “We had to have a volunteer at the booth at all times. It had to be monitored at all times.”

Landsberg closed her accounting office every Wednesday to be at the market.

“We had to think twice about when we were going to take vacations,” she said.

Even then, she’d get a phone call that a volunteer didn’t show up. “I’m halfway across the country. So I’m calling in every favor I have to get somebody, anybody there to help.”

A stable crew of volunteers and a market manager are needed for the market to reopen in 2020.

You don’t have to be there all five hours weekly. Two hours every other Wednesday will do the trick. Bring along your high school kid to do face-painting. That’s how Landsberg’s daughter got started.

The market’s website and Facebook page remain active.

“We’re doing everything we would normally do behind the scenes,” she said. “Except we’re not going to run the market.”

Andrea Brown: abrown @heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

Want to volunteer?

Go to www.mukilteofarmersmarket.org or call 425-320-3586.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arif Ghouseat flips through his work binder in his office conference room Paine Field on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Paine Field Airport director departing for Sea-Tac job

Arif Ghouse, who oversaw the launch of commercial air travel at Paine Field, is leaving after eight years.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

“Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Retooling drug laws, protecting octopus and honoring a cactus

It’s already Day 26. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

April Berg, left, and John Lovick
Snohomish County legislators talk race, policy in Seattle

Rep. April Berg and Sen. John Lovick chatted about Tyre Nichols and education at an event kicking off Black History Month.

A suspect removes a rifle bag from a broken rear window of a Seattle police car on May 30 in downtown Seattle. An Everett man, Jacob D. Little, 24, has been charged with the theft of the high-powered rifle stolen from the car. This image is from the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. 20200904
Everett man sentenced for stealing police gun in Seattle protest

Jacob Little, 26, now faces second-degree murder charges for allegedly killing a man in Renton in August 2020.

Switzerland delegate Markus Herrmann listens while 12th grade students speak with him during a special event set up for their AP Comparative Government class at Glacier Peak High School on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
European delegates talk American culture with Glacier Peak students

Representatives from 18 different EU countries made a stop in Snohomish during their US tour.

Community Transit is leasing a 60-foot articulated BYD battery electric bus this year as an early step in the zero emission planning process. (Community Transit)
Community Transit testing 60-foot electric bus

The agency leased the BYD K11M for $132,000 this year as the first step in its zero-emission planning process.

Most Read