By Jean Janes
Summer in Pierce County brings sunshine, long days, and farmers markets. Locally grown, organic, and fresh, most of the same local farmers and artisans offer their goods at each of the markets in the surrounding area.
While it is great to have their goods available at several markets, it can be hard to know what sets each market apart from the others beyond the different hours they operate. There are markets nearly every day of the week both in the mornings and evenings and if someone only has one free evening or lunch to utilize, then there is bound to be a market or two available. If, however, you are trying to decide which market to make time for, I have tried to highlight a few that are particularly exceptional.
Beginning with Lakewood’s Tuesday morning market, I selected this one for having unsurpassed parking and convenience. Located at 6000 Main Street SW, this market is open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. Easy to find, the Lakewood Farmers Market is spacious and laidback. There is a nice representation of the usual merchandise—flowers, fruit, and fresh produce—and there is enough room to casually browse without feeling rushed by the larger crowds you are likely to find at some of the weekend markets. This market will run until September 16.
One of my favorite markets is Wednesday’s Steilacoom Farmers Market. Located right on the coast next to the Steilacoom Town Hall at the corner of Lafayette and Wilkes Street, the costal views are lovely, the town picturesque. The majority of the market is set up on a tennis court leaving plenty of room between stands to tour the vendors’ goods. Open from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the evening, parking can be a bit more challenging than the Lakewood location, but the ocean vista visible from much of the market makes it worth the trouble. Additionally, the evening hours make this market available to those just getting home from their workday. Only running until August 27, be sure to allot some summer time for the Steilacoom market before it closes. The location and neighborly, friendly feel makes this beach town community market a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
A favorite of another flavor, the vibrant Broadway Tacoma Farmers Market is bustling and busy. A great place to grab a hot lunch and enjoy a picnic near the fountain between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., this market has a very city-central pulse. This market has a faster, electric feel to it compared to the country tone of most markets. Parking is a challenge, so public transit may be the best option. I found parking after looking for about five minutes, but it was limited to two hours and I had to pay to park. Still, it is worth the effort to be able to spend some time people watching, eating by the fountain, or basking in the energy of the area. Certainly different from any other farmers market in Peirce County, Broadway was a lively and entertaining location. This market will be open until October 30.
Last, but certainly not least, the Saturday morning Puyallup Farmers Market is so large and expansive it is almost more a fair or festival than market. Located in Pioneer Park at 330 S Meridian, two streets are blocked off to allow for the enormity of this market, but parking is manageable. I found free parking about two blocks from the market after looking for a few minutes in the middle of market hours. In addition to the usual vendors and artisans, there are also the occasional musicians. I was lucky enough to enjoy some lovely violin music as I perused the fresh pasta. Open from 9:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m., the Puyallup market is so much more than a place to pick up produce. This market is worth bringing the whole family to for a day in the park for a fresh picnic. The Puyallup market will be open until October 11.
There are markets throughout the week to choose from, and hours of availability might be the only factor many need consider. If given the time, however, other amenities may be worth taking into account. From city vitality to country casual, Pierce County has a market for any inclination. Fortunate to have access to fresh foods and products, I am so glad for the opportunity to enjoy some of our farmers markets before the bounty of our Washington summer fades into fall.