Tacoma’s prime waterfront destinations – Ruston Way and Point Defiance – have always lured the masses. Boasting lush forest landscape and majestic ocean views, the surrounding neighborhoods manage to exude charm paired with a flourishing business district at Point Ruston. With new eateries and attractions being erected at a dizzying rate, the North Pearl Farmers Market is just another of the new additions that is a testament to the area’s growth potential.
The North Pearl Farmers Market kicked off their second season on June 2, 2017. After a successful trial run last year, the market has extended their season to a 13-week run. June 11, marks their first week in a new location just outside of The Antique Sandwich Company, a half block from last year’s locale.
Among the vendors you’ll encounter at the market, you’ll find Garden Flowers, run by Hmong farmers who use organic farming methods out of Federal Way to produce vibrant and gorgeous bouquets to beautify your home.
You can scoop up a plethora of fresh and smoked fish and shellfish at the Brady’s Oysters booth, or snag a jar of farm fresh salsa from A Small Specialty out of Gig Harbor.
Sip on a Green Heart Smoothie and pick up some luxurious Nature Girl Soap, or find a stuffed dino or sea creature from Tallydoodle for the little in your life.
Other artisan vendors include jewelry, furniture, truffles and more. When talking about what makes the North Pearl Farmers Market unique, Market Chairperson, Juel Lugo says, “We are highly focused on building community through the market. We were surprised last year to read so many comment card responses that visitors wanted chairs so that they could hang and talk with neighbors. That’s a really different response than how other Tacoma area markets are functioning. So for 2017, we were able to secure grant funding through the Innovative Grant program, City of Tacoma and West End Neighborhood Council for two neighborhood building projects.”
One of those projects is the Kid’s Club. This program will offer children ages 3 to 13 activities at the market that explore healthy eating choices, sustainability and financial literacy through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Each week when a kid completes an activity, ranging from painting with produce, to produce scavenger hunts, to building a garden in your glove, they are given a $2 market token to spend at their discretion as a part of the program’s financial literacy learning. The Kid’s Club partners will appear on bi-weekly basis so you’ll catch Farmer Frog one weekend and the Children’s Museum of Tacoma the next.
“We hope to embolden kids and their parents to try new things, both at the market and at home,” says Lugo. “The Children’s Museum of Tacoma will also be gifting kids that participate in 10 of 13 markets a year-long membership for them and their family at the “playful” level.”
Lugo goes on to tell me about the other community building project called Food for Thought. The idea is to highlight and support the literary arts by providing both a vending and performance platform for a diverse array of local wordsmiths. Local non-profit, Creative Colloquy has collaborated on this portion of the program to aid in curating each week’s features with genres, including everything from history to poetry, locally crafted journals and more.
Of the Food for Thought program, grant coordinator and author herself, Bethany Maines says, “Our goal was to connect local authors with local readers. There just aren’t many places that support local authors and we feel strongly that their presence enriches the wider community.”
Though the North Pearl Farmers Market isn’t the largest market Tacoma has to offer, it’s certainly displaying the ability to bring people together to celebrate and support the rich local culture with its variety of activities and goods. Take a stroll, drive down or hop on the Downtown to Defiance Trolley and make a trip to see for yourself. Be warned, Mr. Wigglesworth, a tentacled friend prowls the grounds. He might look a bit intimidating to the kiddies but don’t worry, he’s a friendly little market mascot.
The North Pearl Farmers Market is located at 5106 N Pearl Street and takes place every Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, you can visit the market’s website or call 253-298-8751.