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Overcoming Uncertainties: Bellevue Farmers Market Returns May 13

May 10, 2021 - by Kensey Wentworth

Overcoming Uncertainties:
Bellevue Farmers Market Returns May 13

After a year of confusing setbacks, new guidelines and staffing challenges, the Bellevue Farmers Market (BFM) will be opening for its 17th year on Thursday, May 13! We checked in with Liz Paruchuru, the market engagement manager for BFM, to see what the 2021 season has in store for our Downtown community.

BDA: Hi Liz! What a challenging year. How has the Bellevue Farmers Market been impacted by COVID-19?

Liz: COVID-19 was a great challenge at the beginning of the 2020 season. We weren't sure if we would even be able to open the market when our region was first impacted in March of last year. Slowly, we worked with our state association (WSFMA) along with our county health department to create new guidelines and protocols that ensure the health and safety of our customers, vendors, and volunteers. 

BDA: How have your vendors been affected? 

Liz: Our vendors have also faced increased challenges. Having a small business or farm today in such a high cost of living area is already hard. Our vendors lost restaurant revenue and had staffing challenges. Other farmers markets closed. Their own businesses needed to close or not come to the market due to staff exposure to COVID-19. Then many had to cope with wildfires that led to lost harvest and production days, along with market closures.

BDA: It’s wonderful that BFM can support so many small businesses. For shoppers, is the experience going to look different this year? 

Liz: We heard from our customers that our market felt very safe in 2020 and they appreciated that we followed the science. We will continue with our enhanced health protocols, and adjust our practices based on the latest news and information, along with specific local guidance. In the past year, we innovated and created new options for online pre-ordering options, including contactless pickup. Masks are required, and there’s one entrance and one-way foot traffic, but you may take as many laps as you like. We continue to work with the King County Health Department to keep everyone safe.

BDA: How many vendors are involved this year? Anyone new?

Liz: This year we have 35 vendors, including a couple food trucks and a new microgreen vendor! Many will start on opening day and some vendors will start later in the season due to the seasonality of their products. You can see the full roster here

BDA: What are you looking forward to this 2021 season?

Liz: We have a great presenting sponsor this year in Amazon! We're grateful for their continued support. They are truly dedicated to being great neighbors to Bellevue citizens, and I'm excited to keep partnering with them as our organization and impact grow. Additionally, big news for us is the return of our Kid's POP Club, once again sponsored by our dear friends at Capital One Cafe. This was a beloved program that served over 750 kids in the 2019 season. We'll be back with take-home activity kits. Our goal is to provide kits for every child who wants one, but we do need the community's help to make this happen.

Also, we are happy to continue our legacy as the only Eastside farmers market that accepts EBT! We even match these customers' dollars through a special program, so they can double their purchasing power up to $40 at every market.

BDA: What a great way to get families involved! Is there anything else you’d like the Bellevue community to know?

Liz: We have big plans to improve our impact over the next few years, and we are inviting area businesses that care about supporting the local economy, the environment, and the health and wellbeing of our Bellevue neighbors to partner with us and get involved via program development, sponsorship, and volunteering!

The Bellevue Farmers Market is held every Thursday (rain or shine) May 13 – October 7, from 3-7pm. Located in the parking lot of Bellevue Presbyterian Church. Free parking available, 249/246 bus routes one block away (check for COVID-19 schedule changes). ADA accessible.

This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.