By Polly Keary, Editor
Monroe’s on-again, off-again farmers’ market could be one of the area’s best, but not if organizers try revive it this summer.
That’s what the board members of the downtown revitalization group DREAM decided last week, after assessing the challenges that have plagued the summer event in the past.
The members of DREAM had initially planned to bring the market back this summer as a fundraiser for revitalization.
They were off to a good start; they arranged to get a section of Fremont Street closed for a weekly event.
The market also got a promising new manager.
Krishna Raven-Johnson moved to town eight months ago and immediately offered to help start the market back up. She has a great deal of event planning experience; in Tuscon, Ariz., she was the lead organizer of several large annual fundraisers and festivals, including a chili fiesta that involved more than 50 vendors and a stage with all-day music.
Lynn Gose, director of DREAM, invited Johnson to join the steering committee, and when the previous manager stepped down, named her to the position.
Since January, said Johnson, the market has been proceeding along nicely, with the city granting a prime location.
“But over the last few weeks we ran into serious challenges,” said Johnson, who recently opened In Balance Therapeutic Massage and Hanna Somatics on Main Street.
A major corporate financial supporter fell through. And overtures to the farm community got tepid results.
“The farmers said, ‘Oh, the Monroe market, I didn’t make much money when I did it, and some years they have it, sometimes they don’t. I don’t know if it’s a good market,’” said Johnson.
Community members also offered feedback about why turnout was low in previous years, saying there were too many crafts and not enough produce.
“They said they’d like to have more actual farmers there,” said Johnson.
So the board decided to “take a step back,” said Johnson, and put together a robust steering committee (right now it consists of two people) and do focused outreach to attract farmers and promote the market.
“I’ve been in touch with Willy Green’s (a large Tualco Valley organic farm) and the Washington State Famers Market Association, and also some people who have put together markets around the state,” said Johnson. “We will tap them for an advisory board to mentor us, and we’ll form a steering committee with an interest of seeing this happen, and be a success and build a solid foundation.”
Now Johnson is seeking people who would like to see a vibrant market in Monroe to join the committee and help make it happen.
The result could be beautiful, she said.
“I would like to see lots of farmers from our valley and farmers from Eastern Washington and the Skagit Valley with a range of produce and fruit and jam and syrups and goat cheese and home baked bread and sweet goodies and some nice handcrafts,” she said. “I’d like to see it really be an event that becomes part of the heart of Monroe.”
To learn more, contact Krishna Raven-Johnson at (425) 892-4034 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.