A group of citizens are trying to create a farmers market for Mercer Island, an absolutely wonderful idea that is long overdue. I can't make it to tonight's planning meeting (Jan 10th, 7pm at the library), but here are my ideas:
First, I think the focus should be on variety -- diversity in products (of course), but also vendors, geography, and processing. Locally-grown, farm fresh produce is great, but rather than simply imitate other local farmers markets that overflow with aisle after aisle of similar vendors hawking the same fruits and vegetables, how about just one or two of those, plus some or all of the following:
- Dairy: Dungeness Valley Creamery already delivers extremely fresh, unprocessed milk, cheese, and cream to Mercer Island each week. Ask them to set up a stand and sell it to the public.
- Kosher and halal: micro-scale cooking, like from Kafe Kineret: falafel, real Matzo Ball soup, shawarma.
- Tofu: freshly-made tofu tastes completely different from that yuk stuff you get at Safeway or Whole Foods.
- Grains: Koshihikari rice (order through Uwajimaya) or barley or whole wheat, ground for you on the spot?
- Coffee: Maybe Trabant could do a tasting menu? or bring one of their Clover machines for us to try?
- Spices: invite World Spice Merchants from Seattle or other small vendors who will sell small samplers in bulk.
- Rain Forest fruits: find a supplier who can provide samples; nobody wants to risk ordering a large quantity without trying it first.
- Meat: Alligator meat, goose, black bear? Invite Exotic Meats from Bellevue to provide samplers.
Remember, you can get a lot of the fresh vegetables and locally-grown produce delivered to your door through services like Pioneer Organics (and without encouraging more driving, the way a farmers market does), so I hope that rather than displace these other excellent services, the Mercer Island Farmers Market can serve as a catalyst to expose more people to the joys of super-fresh food, increasing the market for everyone.