Yakima Valley has an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies and the perfect venue to meet those who grow it is at the Downtown Yakima Farmers Market. Starting the weekend of Mother’s Day in May through the end of the growing season in October, the market occurs every Sunday from 9:00 am to 1:00pm. The Market is full of people who love what they do and those who support it. Each weekend has a performance under the Capitol Theatre overhang and there are many weekends with lots of interactive booths and ways for kids and families to get involved.
As of 2019, Yvette Lippert is the Market manager and she is very excited and invested in Market Recovery and if any questions are not addressed in this article they can most likely be answered by her, so feel free to contact her at email@example.com.
The OIC of Washington’s first Harvest VISTA utilized the Market as a community and educational space for outreach such as building donor, volunteer and partnership relationships. In April the VISTA must apply for a Non-Profit booth, which has no cost; however to have a booth you must supply a table, tent and four weights weighing 25 lbs each(very important due to high winds in the valley). It is also required on kids weekends to have an activity for families to do while at the market. This could be as easy as a coloring page with a recipe on the back! Tying it into food security, nutritional education and other food centered activities are best and even better if you can involve other booths such as growers, artisans and beekeepers. The market and the first year VISTA hope to host the KERNEL program in 2020 collectively, as it provides funds for kids to buy their own fresh food to take home as well as activities for kids and families to develop healthy futures. During the market, information sheets about our gleaning, gardening and volunteering opportunities are shared and participants are able to ask questions and to sign up on a google form to volunteer. The most successful outreach has been through the farmers market, almost all volunteers, partners and donors were reached out to through the farmers market, in addition it provides a consistent time, visibility and place for the program.
At the beginning, the first year VISTA did not do produce recovery, as to build trust and relationships first. A common misconception with growers is that gleaners want them to give their hard earned food for nothing, which is not true! The hope is that they sell what they have, nothing goes to waste and customers can afford to “buy two, donate one”, this supports local farmers and families in need. This system needs further development and to spread through word of mouth, however has the potential to be really productive. During the first year’s time at the farmers market there were constantly a minimum of two growers donating every week. A total of 993 lbs has been collected in 2019, each week donations were constantly increasing. Some key tools to the food recovery at the DYFM is knowing your growers and what they have, providing tax receipts, and having proper storage and transportation. The OIC provides a pickup truck, table, and a tent for the first year VISTA’s booth, however the logistics of getting the food to the bank is difficult since collections are during the weekend and some products need immediate refrigeration. What worked in a pitch, if storage or transportation was a problem was storing food at the Downtown Yakima Association in their fridge, which is only a couple blocks away. Yvette Lippert is who facilitated this in times of need. Some growers provide the bins they donate in, but bags and boxes were always brought with the VISTA in case growers were unable to lend containers. Reused food bank boxes and grocery totes are good examples, and a cart to collect and easily carry the donations is always convenient.