O’Donnell says putting even a small farmers market together is a major undertaking, and many are planning special behind-the-scenes tours during Washington State Farmers Market Week, through Aug. 13.
In September, 10 farmers markets have been selected for a pilot program to offer wine and beer sampling. The legislature had to vote to allow it.
Mike Louisell with the Washington Department of Agriculture says it’s an important acknowledgment of a different facet of farming.
“We are the number one hop-growing state in America, and of course, we are a producer of premium wines in the United States, second only to California. It’s certainly a growth industry, and a vital part of Washington agriculture.”
The most famous farmers market in Washington is Seattle’s Pike Place Market, but Louisell says there are more than 160 farmers markets statewide, in 36 counties. According to the Washington Department of Agriculture, farmers market sales are up from $32 million in 2009 to $39 million last year.