Faces were cheerful despite overcast skies at the first Saturday Farmers Market of the season.
People donning hats and rain jackets gathered to witness the annual tradition of the cabbage toss, usually performed by the mayor or other city official.
The cabbage toss is the farmers market equivalent to the ceremonial first pitch of a baseball game and is a tradition held for the past 25 years, Market Director Caprice Teske said.
Since the mayor was unable to attend, the honor was bestowed upon Solveig Sneva, a third-grader and this year’s “cabbage princess.” A crowd of about 40 people gathered to watch Solveig throw a cabbage to celebrate the market’s opening day.
While wearing a cabbage-themed dress and holding a cookie, Solveig said her favorite part about the market is going around and talking to the vendors.
Shelby Sneva, Western alumna and mother of Solveig, has sold her leather crafts at the market for four years.
“I think the market really brings together the community,” Sneva said.
The Bellingham Farmers Market has teamed up this season with Sustainable Connections, a Bellingham nonprofit.
Mark Peterson is a business manager with Sustainable Connections. He said the nonprofit has a goal to create a local economy based on environmentally-responsible business practices.
“Food waste is becoming more and more of an issue,” Peterson said. “[The market] is just a great opportunity for us to help educate the public.”
Mike Finger, who has been a board member and vendor of the market since its beginning, spoke to the crowd.
“I just hope, and I actually believe the community will continue to embrace [the market], and maybe we’ll be talking about a 50th anniversary one day,” Finger said.
“I think this is an awesome opportunity for artists and farmers to get their things out there, and to support local businesses and local people.”
Zoe Kromer, freshman
Karma Maclachlan, owner of Karmela Botanica, was selling handmade soaps and organic skincare products. The market’s efforts to go zero-waste is good for both individuals and the community, Maclachlan said.
“It’s always wonderful to come back to market for a fresh new year,” Maclachlan said.
Next to Karmela Botanica a bearded man was playing music, cracking jokes and balancing an upright bass on his face. Strangely Doesburg has performed at the market for six years, and said it’s the dedication to community that keeps him coming back each year.
“There are not a lot of markets that are this good,” Doesburg said. “This is one of the best that I’ve seen in the world.”
Fairhaven student Daniel Starnes ran into an old friend at the market.
“I just got here five minutes ago and I’ve already seen a friend that I hadn’t met up with in six months,” Starnes said.
Richard Vinh, who graduated from Fairhaven College last spring, said he was in Bellingham to visit when he looked online and saw the market was open.
“It’s cool seeing how a lot of the spring produce is starting to come in,” Vinh said. “I’m happy that winter feels almost over.”
Freshman Zoe Kromer said it’s good to see the vendors make an effort to be more sustainable.
“I think this is an awesome opportunity for artists and farmers to get their things out there, and to support local businesses and local people,” Kromer said.
The market is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday from April through December, at 1100 Railroad Avenue.