Haymaker Farmers’ Market celebrates 25th anniversary

Sarah Lorenz

The Haymaker Farmers’ Market opens this Saturday for its 25th annual outdoor season.

Stands will feature fresh produce, eggs, honey, baked bread and pastries, fruit spreads, home goods and locally raised meats.

The outdoor market is hosted every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from May to October, with free parking throughout downtown. It is located on Franklin Avenue between Main Street and Summit Street, under the Haymaker overpass.

Andrew Rome, the market manager, is looking forward to his third market season. He attributes the market success to the quality of produce the vendors sell.

“Our audiences range from college students looking for groceries, to hungry community members looking for a food truck treat,” Rome said. “We are a producer-only farmers’ market; you can trust the farmers selling goods they grew themselves.”

The first market opened in 1992 with just a few vendors. Today, there are over 40 vendors featuring all types of homegrown goods. While it focuses mostly on food and agricultural products, the market also features local artists. On the last Saturday of every month, artists are invited to display their work.

“We want to bring in local artists and embrace Kent’s vibrant art culture, but still maintain our identity as a farmers’ market,” Rome said.

The market provides local farmers, growers and artists the chance to sell products to the Kent community by creating a vibrant gathering place. The agricultural and environmental education is a big attraction to customers.

“This market gives you a chance to have a relationship with the food you are eating, while getting to know community members,” Rome said. “We have a laid-back community feel. It’s a different experience than shopping at a grocery store.”

Eating “true to the seasons” is a lifestyle at the outdoor market. The market will offer the first crop of asparagus Saturday, as well as peas, strawberries and tomatoes in the coming summer weeks. Melons and pumpkins are available in the late summer and fall months.

“The conversations customers have with vendors are very educational, especially when they give advice on how to grow successfully in your own garden,” Rome said.

Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala is expected to attend the 25th anniversary and host a ribbon cutting ceremony. A lifelong resident of Kent, he has been going to the farmers’ market since it began.

“Its not only the fruits and vegetables at the market, it’s having the chance to see the Kent community,” Fiala said.

Rome said it’s this Kent community that helps make the market what it is.

“We have a community in Kent that comes together to connect about local food, art and music,” Rome said. “It’s a great way to spend time with friends and family while supporting local business.”

Sarah Lorenz is the downtown and neighborhoods reporter, contact her at [email protected].