A century ago, farmers from Vashon and Bainbridge islands brought goods and produce to a city too crowded to grow or produce their own. They came on wooden boats and steamships, moored in the bustling corridors of Pioneer Square and Pike Place, and offered what they could to their Seattle neighbors.
Today, that farm-to-water-to-market tradition has been revitalized by FarmBoat, a nonprofit floating farmers market. The boat-based market officially kicks off this month at the Lake Union Park Wharf, and will continue every Thursday until December.
“All farmers markets tend to look the same,” said market Director Mike James. “(Farmboat) is a unique and very different atmosphere.”
This year, the market will be held aboard the historic Virginia V steamship, which was used to transport good from the Northwest’s island communities to Seattle more than a century ago. More than 20 vendors will display locally grown produce, specialty foods and artisan crafts on board the 125-foot wooden vessel. Market visitors can tour the ship for free and learn about Puget Sound agricultural and maritime heritage while they shop.
The market officially began two years ago, and quickly gained steam with farmers’ market lovers across the city. Word of the market has even begun to spread to south sound cities – including Tacoma and Olympia – who want to bring this unique market to their piers. Last year, the market averaged about 400 visitors, and James hopes to attract more visitors this season.
With such a saturation of farmers markets throughout the city, James hopes the historical authenticity of Farmboat will provide something different for market-goers.
“We want it to look like the old days,” he said. “We’re going to have colorful umbrellas instead of white tents, and aluminum buckets to hold flowers instead of pickles buckets.”
For more information, visit Farmboat’s website.
Market day and time: Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., May - December (officially begins May 10)
Location: Lake Union Park Wharf, 860 Terry Avenue North