Friends of Third Place Commons reports that the 2011 Lake Forest Park Farmers Market was its most successful season ever. Attendance at the market was consistently high with some days drawing over 8,000 shoppers.
Despite the economy, farmers maintained their high levels of sales, and new vendors found Lake Forest Park to be the most supportive market to do business. Community tents bustled every weekend, providing an opportunity for many nonprofit groups to meet the public.
Sales from 2011 were approximately $626,000 up 8.1 percent from 2010 when $579,000 in sales occurred. Weekly sales are self-reported by the farmers and vendors. The numbers do not include the two winter markets.
The 2011 season also marked significant growth in the marekt's food assistance program. Many more people were able to shop with Market Bucks coupons, made available to them through partner agencies in the northend. Begun as a pilot project with funds from United Way, this innovative program has helped hungry neighbors feed their families since 2008. This year, over $15,500 worth of Market Bucks were redeemed at the Lake Forest Park Farmers Market.
Funding from two grants enabled Friends of Third Place Commons to distribute more coupons this year. The Church of the Redeemer in Kenmore donated $7,500 for Market Bucks. United Way provided additional funds. The coupons were distributed throughout the season to: Hopelink Shoreline, Hopelink Northshore, Brookside Elementary, LFP Elementary, Ballinger Homes, Shoreline/Lake Forest Park Senior Center, Kenmore Emergency Housing Shelter, Popy’s Café, Kenmore Emergency Housing Shelter, Vineyard Summer Lunch Program, and Ronald Methodist Summer Lunch Program.
Friends of Third Place Commons, the sponsor and administrator of the Lake Forest Park Farmers Market, developed the Market Bucks program, which is now a model throughout the nation. With an ongoing commitment from Church of the Redeemer for Friends of Third Place Commons will continue this successful program into the future.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the 2012 Market Bucks program can do so on line at www.thirdplacecommons.org. Friends of Third Place Commons is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so contributions are deductible.
The Farmers Market was first established in 2005, and has become a summer institution, opening on Mother’s Day and running through the third week in October. Friends also hosts two indoor markets during the winter holidays.