Local farms matter: County Exec’s visit emphasizes Carnation farmers market’s role | Photos

King County Executive Dow Constantine tries some local preserves from a Carnation Farmers Market booth on a recent visit, as Michaele Blakely of Growing Things Farm, watches.   - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
King County Executive Dow Constantine tries some local preserves from a Carnation Farmers Market booth on a recent visit, as Michaele Blakely of Growing Things Farm, watches.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Bag of broccoli in hand, King County Executive Dow Constantine made his way through the Carnation Farmers Market like any other shopper. His visit, on Aug. 15, though, was not just about bringing home that night's dinner ingredients, it was also to get a closer look at the third largest industry in the state, and the role farmers markets play in that.

Agriculture is the industry, and farmers markets are an important economic engine for them, Constantine said, bringing in about $20 million annually in revenue in King County. Carnation's well-established market is an important component of connecting people with agriculture, of course, but Constantine also wanted to see the new community shelter. Funded in part by a King County grant, the shelter will enable the market to extend its season into November this year, and to give farmers another place to sell their products.

Carnation is also a great example of what Constantine called "the value of simple partnerships, connecting everybody doing the things they do best."

Gesturing around him at the bustling market, shoppers inspecting produce or lining up for hot food, children dancing in front of the music tent and volunteers signing up for gleaning events for the local food banks, he notes the community has come together here, "and it's just a simple wooden structure and a couple of people playing guitars."

He sees great tourism possibilities in the area farms he visited during the day, and in the market, and imagines visitors on day two or three of their Seattle stays coming to the Snoqualmie Valley to tour a working farm.

"I think having vibrant agriculture so close to a major city is remarkable," he said.

Earlier in the day, Constantine met with several local farmers and Carnation officials, in a meeting that was encouraging to all participants. Michaele Blakely of Growing Things Farm said farmers talked mainly about needing less water, and less regulation on how to deal with water.

"We're still getting an incredible amount of water coming from runoff, from the buildings, … and of course the Puget Sound Energy work at the Falls," she said, but they are limited in how they can address it. "We're still confined to the requirement of not raising the floodwaters."

Blakely felt that Constantine and his staff really heard their concerns, as well as those of the city.

"It was very interesting … and heartening to hear him really understand the needs for the city to be economically viable."

The Carnation Farmers Market is open from 3 to 7 p.m. every Tuesdays through November, one block off Tolt Avenue on Bird Street. The North Bend Farmers Market is open Thursdays, 4 to 8 p.m., through Sept. 14, at Si View Park.

Above, farmer and food bank donation helper Kate Halstead, left, shakes hands with King County Executive Dow Constantine as he tours the Carnation Farmers Market Aug. 14. Below, at the Oxbow Farms booth, Constantine, far right, talks with farmers Michaele Blakely and Luke Woodward on his tour of the Carnation Farmers Market.


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