Dozens of vendors, organizations and hundreds of community members came out.
Dozens of vendors, organizations and hundreds of community members came out.

Bundles of sage, lavender, and duck down lined tabletops under Hearth and Haven’s tent during the first Monroe Farmers Market of the season last Wednesday.

Elaine Kellner directed shoppers to the chocolate- and apple-scented varieties of mint, told them the feathers could be used in art projects, and that the huckleberries were handpicked from a bush she was lucky enough to have growing on her property. Containers held a modest yield of herbs, leafy greens and berries, but just the right amount for the operation’s first time selling at a market.

“This one was so close and so little,” she said about the market, “ it was just the perfect size for us just starting out.

The Farm to Table Farmers Market saw much success at its Lake Tye Park location over the past two years. Molly Daniels of Poppyseed Productions managed the weekly market, which reportedly experienced annual growth over its three-year run.

The Monroe Chamber of Commerce organized this year’s festivities, which will be held once a month through August. The last two market days are scheduled from 3-7 p.m. July 25 and Aug. 15 in the old Albertsons parking lot.

“Our primary goal for the Market is to provide Monroe and the surrounding areas with local, farm-fresh goods, products and services,” according to the chamber.

Monroe is considered a food desert, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. That means it’s harder for residents to access fresh, affordable produce because of their distance from a grocery center, income or availability of public transportation.

Executive director Yvonne Gallardo-Van Ornam said attendance last Wednesday was estimated at 500 to 700 people; a good turnout, she said. The crowd died down briefly around 6 p.m., and staff considered closing early, but a huge wave rushed in shortly after the hour, she said.

Kellner was not the only first-timer that day. Her neighbor, Bree Nord, was there promoting her photography business. Her best portraits of newborns and people from the business community were on display.

The Snohomish resident said she heard about the event from market manager Janelle Drews. Bree Nord Photography has been in business for about a year now, and she thought getting some face time with the community could help her broaden her network.

Nord also had a less entrepreneurial reason in mind.

“I just thought it would be fun,” she said.

Kellner said she and her husband’s farming venture “all started with three little ducks,” and quickly expanded from there. They moved to their Woods Lake property two years ago, after outgrowing their suburban garden.

Caroline and Michael Scull have a little more experience and land in their arsenal, and Anthology Ranch also made its debut at the market Wednesday. The couple owns 15 acres, 10 of which are designated open space, meaning it will be farmland forever, Caroline said.

The couple balances their operation with a graphic design business, which they built up for two decades and now are able to run remotely, Caroline said. Their employees are excited when they get to handle the livestock while on the job, she said.

The Sculls moved to Monroe from Mukilteo two years ago. They raise Nigerian Dwarf goats, make soap from the animal’s milk, and grow raspberries and a variety of produce, all while using natural and sustainable practices, Caroline said.

Caroline likes to discuss the benefits with her customers, and to hear what they think.

Standing behind trays of bagged lettuce and radishes, she gushed about the flavors and intensity of eating something that came fresh from the ground.

“A lot of people don’t know what fresh produce tastes like, which is another reason why we are here,” she said.