MARYSVILLE – Not only is the nonprofit Marysville Farmers Market that opens today a fun place to hang out, it’s also helping people in need.
Along with its Fresh Bucks program that matches EBT users up to $10 each week, it also helps people through the Seeds of Grace Market Mentor Project.
Matthew Bostain is one of the success stories. He had little in the way of job skills but thanks to training through the program he now has a full-time job at Fred Meyer.
The program is an eight- to 16-week educational, vocational and hands-on work experience that offers individuals a marketplace experience, with a possible stipend, in which they can grow their employment and social skills. Market manager Shawn Schrader said a record number of vendors will be there the first day, including: Clear Valley Farm, Our Family Farm LLC, A Different Echo (honey), Hmong Highland Garden (flowers), Tualco Valley Farm, Baker’s Acres Family Farm and Nursery, Hogstead (pork and produce), Homg Seattle Garden (flowers), Seeds of Grace and Cup of Flower (succulents).
Schraeder said a popular attraction last year that will be even bigger this year is a free herb garden. Customers cut their own.
“Parsley was wiped out one weekend last year,” he said.
Produce that doesn’t sell isn’t wasted. Hundreds of pounds of produce is donated to local food banks and soup kitchens.
Along with food, visitors can also be educated by nonprofit booths at the market on everything from food banks to foster children and adoption.
Schraeder said an average of 650 visitors come each week, or about 7,200 for the season. Almost 50 local food, farm and artisan vendors participate. Allen Creek Community Church started in 2015. The concept was to partner with others to help those in need rather than rely on government. Twila Crain of AC3 said instead of giving money to people then having them come back a few weeks later for more, it wanted to help folks get job skills so they could help themselves.
“This way they can get job training and a few bucks,” she said.
More than a handful of other churches have joined AC3 in the Farmers Market effort.
Schraeder said he’d like even more people to get involved.
“It’s a great way to engage with the community,” he said. “Instead of saying somebody should do something, you can be that somebody.”
Mayor Jon Nehring and others are expected for the opening ribbon cutting today. The market will be open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. just south of City Hall, 1035 State Ave.
Each week the market has a theme: Celebrate USA June 30; Sports Day, July 7; Christmas in July, July 14; Kids Day Super Hero, July 21; Aloha Day, July 28; Cycle Rally, Aug. 4; Classic Car Day, Aug. 11; Kids Day Carnival, Aug. 18; First Responders Day, Aug. 25; and Back to School Closing Day, Sept. 1.
People enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can stretch their SNAP EBT dollars by: Going to the market’s information tent, swiping you EBT card, getting up to $10 per person and shopping for fresh produce including, fruit, vegetables, herbs and vegetable starts. Fresh Bucks is the largest EBT program in the state.
Market Mentor Project
There are three tracks from which to learn.
•Farm-to-Market Track – Learn in a hands-on environment what it takes to bring produce from Farm to Market. Gain a variety of work and social skills through harvesting, prep and other market day experiences in a team setting. •Entrepreneur Track – Do you enjoy interacting with people and have a take charge personality? Become a small business practitioner (independent contractor). You’ll learn how to implement a simple marketing plan, source or create unique product(s) to sell, learn merchandising, organizational skills, inventory and cash flow monitoring, display and merchandising skills. (manager and sales team positions)
•Product Development Track – Do you create a product that would be attractive and marketable at the Marysville Farmers Market or other venues? Your product may qualify to be sold by MMP participants, providing you with a percentage of the sales your product(s) creates. This track includes basic organizational skills and behind-the-scenes work experience.
Along with the market, they also work and learn at the Seeds of Grace Resource Exchange and harvesting organic food at First Fruits Farm on Getchell Hill. Up to four applicants are hired each year.
Started in 2015, the program continues to look for new marketplace partnerships in which individuals can grow vocational and life skills year round.
The market relies on community support to exist. Different levels of sponsorship include: Nonprofit – $75, Friends of the Market, $100; Event, $500; Music, $1,000; and Foundation Sponsor, $2,500.
www.facebook.com/MarysvilleFarmersMarket or www.MarysvilleFarmersMarket.org