[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]
To Andrea Reay and the Board of Directors of Discover Burien;
To the Burien City Council;
For going on to seven years, I have regularly been in contact with the City of Burien and Discover Burien about the Burien Farmers Market. And I have spoken at previous City Council meetings about this topic. I have requested repeatedly that Discover Burien revamp the Farmers Market. In 2012 and 2013, several other citizens and I requested that the Board consider moving the Burien Farmer’s Market toÂ SundayÂ and that the Market be held down 153rdÂ so that more citizens could attend it and that it could be expanded. The date and the location of the Burien’s Farmers Market has again become a topic of discussion at the recent Food Shed meetings.
Every time any citizens or even some Members of the Discover Burien Board make a request about changing the date and location of the Farmers Market, they are confronted with an ongoing litany of excuses about why it can’t be done from Discover Burien and/or the City. In my most recent meeting with John White (then chair of the Board) and Andrea Reay in 2013-14, I was told that when the Market Director’s contract came up for renewal, my request would be considered. So I was quite surprised when the director position was not publicly advertised and that the Board just renewed the contract of the current manager without seriously considering a change to the market’s date or location.
Over these many years now, I and others have been given reasons for why the market can’t be changed that are not based in fact, are not based on what has happened in other communities Farmers Markets and are not based on a robust business model for a market. I would be more that happy to present before the Board on the litany of excuses I and other have been given by Discover Burien for why Burien must keep a low performing market on Thursdays.
This last year, I was told that the market had to continue as it always had because the Board didn’t have the money to develop a new model and revamp it. Below I have listed a granting source from the King County Conservation District (KCD) which has given out thousands of dollars to help communities develop and revamp their markets.And in the last three years, the City of Des Moines did not get any of this grant money but managed to develop aÂ SaturdayÂ farmers market that brings in 2000 to 3000 visitors to the market each time it is held.
In 2014 KCD awarded a total of $1,090,595 in grants to 30 local governments and nonprofit organizations across King County.Â Below is a list of the funded organizations with brief descriptions of their projects:
City of Auburn 2014- Auburn International Farmers Market– $15,000
Continue support for marketing and promotion to the surrounding community as well as coalition building among multiple community agencies to provide educational demonstrations about buying healthy, local food and the positive impact on the environment and economy that results. For more information contact Joanne Macnab,Â [email protected],Â 253-931-3051
City of Renton – 2014 Renton Farmers Market: Marketing & EducationÂ – $ 15,000
Increase the city’s ability to support an expanded market, develop a marketing plan, raise awareness of the market through advertising, and additional educational opportunities. For more information contact Carrie Olson,Â [email protected],Â 425-430-7214.
City of Auburn-2013Â –Â Auburn International Farmers MarketÂ Â $20,000
Continued support for marketing and promotion of the farmers market with paid advertisements, mailings, materials, social and printed media, and educational demonstrations from partner organizations. Contact: Joanne Macnab,Â 253-931-3051,Â [email protected].
City of Auburn-2012Â –Â AuburnÂ International Farmers MarketÂ Â -$ 20,000
City of Auburn-2010Â –Â AuburnÂ International Farmers MarketÂ Â $31,500
I believe that KDC is a funding source that should be explored to help the Farmers Market to be revamped and expanded. As a previous grant writerÂ , I would be willing to help gather the needed information for this grant and help to draft this grant application. Of course, Discover Burien and the City of Burien would have to approve and finalize such a grant.
What is disappointing to me and other citizens is that the city has been providing funding for this market for many years but most citizens can never attend it because it is held on aÂ Thursday – when most citizens work. The market doesn’t have a diverse and robust supply of healthy, local farm grown foods for citizens to purchase. Those foods are available at other local markets. And the Board of Directors for Discover Burien seems to have no will to improve this market and move it to another day to serve more citizens. The Burien Farmers Market has great potential for improvement and can really serve the citizens and businesses of Burien by moving it to a time when more Burienites and visitors can come to it-on a weekend day. The market can also serve as an economic driver and an educational and cultural tool to encourage Burien citizens to eat healthier and celebrate life. This market seems to continue to be bound up in bureaucratic excuses about why it can’t be changed or improved. I have been told by some members of the Discover Burien Board that this is a profitable market but each time I have asked to see its profits as compared to other surrounding markets they are never available for inspection. Because a portion of the monies that fund this market come from the city, I am sending this letter on to the city also.
I am requesting that the Board of Directors of Discover Burien and its Executive Director collaborate with the City to improve the Burien Farmers Market by relocating it and moving it to aÂ SundayÂ on 153rd. This market should be a hub of excitement and activity as well as a cultural, educational and agricultural experience for all of Burien’s citizens-not just the citizens who are the privileged and elite or unemployed and don’tÂ Â have to work for a living during the week-on Thursdays.
I have even agreed to work free of charge to help the market get new vendors to expand the market, if it changes its day to aÂ Sunday. Burien citizens will turn out to a robust market event on aÂ SundayÂ as has been evidenced by the crowd turn out for the Car Shows in Burien.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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