Fresh food and friendships at heart of market

Andrew Paulsen

It’s a late Saturday morning in downtown Kent. Between the weathered train tracks and the brick pavement of Franklin Avenue lies a gravel path lined with tents and cars. And no, the people gathered here aren’t tailgating – rather, they are exhibiting and picking through a variety of goods the community has to offer at the Haymaker Farmers’ Market.

The Haymaker Farmers’ Market is a place for farmers, artists and local vendors to sell their produce, meats, crafts and other assorted goods to the citizens of Kent. All of the items available for purchase are grown, raised or made in Kent and the surrounding area.

According to its Web site, some of the tenets of the Haymaker Farmers’ Market mission statement are to “improve public awareness of the many agricultural products and baked goods available from local producers,” “to help promote retail development within the city’s central business district through spin-off retail trade” and to “foster a positive sense of community, promote civic interaction and discourse in an open-air public setting.”

Andreas Esparza, a vendor selling his wife’s bread, “Bonny’s Bread,” summed up the importance of the market, saying, “It makes you feel like you’re definitely a part of the community … I consider it the most American thing you can do besides joining the army, is to be involved in community.”

Wendelin Taylor and Shirley Ferris make wine jellies, fresh-fruit jellies, fruit butters, barbecue sauces, spice blends, fruit syrups, dip mixes, wind chimes and drying racks.

Taylor and Ferris both said the time spent preparing jellies for the market adds up to another full-time job for them because they’re constantly making more products. But these time-consuming tasks pay off on Saturday mornings.

“You meet all kinds of terrific people and learn how to do things, and you see things you never knew existed,” Taylor said. “It’s fun.”

Taylor added that the market is also a great opportunity for neighbors to meet on a weekly basis and at the same time, support the local economy.

The Haymaker Farmers’ Market takes place at Franklin Avenue and Summit Street each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For further information, visit

Contact features reporter Andrew Paulsen at [email protected].