Renton’s Greenfresh Market picks up vendors as Farmer’s Market closes for season

Renton Farmers Market ended its season Sept. 16. But several vendors continued hawking their wares at an After Market Market the following Tuesday — not at The Piazza, but at Greenfresh Market.

Renton Farmers Market ended its season Sept. 16. But several vendors continued hawking their wares at an After Market Market the following Tuesday — not at The Piazza, but at Greenfresh Market.

Greenfresh CEO Fred Coutts called the market “Transitional Tuesday.”

“Greenfresh Market is really about supporting local farmers and vendors, and we thought it would be a neat event to have some of the vendors here,” he said.

Farmers Market coordinator Stefeny Anderson said the After Market Market was intended to continue the market’s momentum and to transfer that momentum to Greenfresh.

“Greenfresh shares (the market’s) ideals of buying from local farmers,” Anderson said. “… We want a place for our customers to continue going in the winter and spring until we come back again.”

Anderson helped Coutts select the 10 or so vendors who set up their tents in Greenfresh’s parking lot on Rainier Avenue North for the After Market Market.

The pair picked reliable vendors who Coutts said gave “kind of a sampling of what the market is all about.”

Vendors included Sound Bites Sauce & Spread Co., Pacific Mist Tea, Forest Fairy Baker, Westover Farm and a flower vendor.

Coutts invited all of the After Market Market’s vendors to start selling their products in Greenfresh Market. He said Greenfresh can help vendors transition from retail to wholesale.

“We have very flexible standards in terms of working with new, small vendors,” he said. “If they make their product ready to go on our shelves, we’ll be happy to pick it up.”

Not all of the After Market Market vendors want to make their products ready for Greenfresh.

“I would rather deal directly with people,” said Linda Hays, owner of Forest Fairy Bakery.

She wants to make sure her assortment of all-natural cookies, cakes, savory and sweet breads are sold fresh. Hays lives in Renton and bakes her goodies in a commercial kitchen in Seattle. She has been at Renton Farmers Market about four years and also sells at three other area markets. She has help running the business from her parents, significant other and five kids.

Hays wishes Renton’s market wasn’t over.

“It’s sad. It’s like summer camp ended,” she said.

But she keeps busy during the off-season by working at an inventory company. She also has work to do on Forest Fairy’s business plan.

Darrell Westover of Maple Valley’s Westover Farm also keeps busy in the off-season. The 77 year old’s six acres of choose-and-cut Christmas trees opens the day after Thanksgiving. Farm guests can also talk to his turkeys, chickens and peacocks. (All birds are “strictly pets.”)

This year was a “major disaster” and Westover’s 10-acre farm yielded only tomatoes. But he usually also grows Asian cucumbers, fingerling potatoes, Italian peppers and strawberries. Still, he says he’s not large enough to sell his products at Greenfresh or other stores.

“It doesn’t make sense for me to sell wholesale,” he said.

Westover’s blue-and-white striped overalls and straw hat Tuesday made him look every bit the farmer. He’s sold at Renton Farmers Market

six years, and sells at three other markets, all which continue into October. Puyallup’s market doesn’t end until Oct. 25.

Even with all his crops and markets, Westover says he doesn’t make a good living.

“But it’s fun,” he says. “It’s getting better every year.”

Unlike Hays and Westover, Huyen Martin is interested in selling her goods at Greenfresh. Martin’s business is Pacific Mist Tea, which she runs out of her Renton home, with help from her husband and children. She sells at various farmers markets in addition to Renton’s. She also sells her tea online. She wants to explore the wholesale market, starting at Greenfresh.

Coutts said he would be happy to bring Pacific Mist Tea into his store. If Renton customers were buying Martin’s tea during the summer market season, he imagines Renton customers will want to buy her tea during the cold fall and winter, and spring, too.

“There’s a lady making tea right here in Renton, but in fall and winter she has nowhere to sell it,” Coutts said.

He says Martin might not be able to get into a big store like Fred Meyer or Safeway, but she has a good shot at Greenfresh, which already carries many wares from local businesses.

Coutts says Greenfresh carries a line of honey made by a Renton producer discovered at the farmer’s market last year.

A Puyallup outfit brings Greenfresh berries each summer day, and a Chelan County farm organic apples.

Coutts says Greenfresh Market is a bit of a farmer’s market itself, except more complete, with household products and the like.

“We like to think of ourselves as a little bit of a farmer’s market 365 days a year, maybe 363, since we’re closed a couple days,” Coutts says. “We sell a lot of local products every day.”