Queen Anne & Magnolia News file photo: People peruse the fresh produce and proteins for sale at the 2019 Queen Anne Farmers Market in this file photo. This year the market will open May 28 with a modified format emphasizing safety and hygiene.
Queen Anne & Magnolia News file photo: People peruse the fresh produce and proteins for sale at the 2019 Queen Anne Farmers Market in this file photo. This year the market will open May 28 with a modified format emphasizing safety and hygiene.
The Queen Anne Farmers Market will return on schedule but with a different look this spring.

The 14th season of the Thursday farmers market kicks off from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 28 at West Crocket Street and Queen Anne Avenue. The season runs for 20 weeks, ending on Oct. 8.

“It’s a really exciting place,” Executive Director Matt Kelly said. “This season will definitely look different, but it’s definitely a gem on the hill.”

Last season, the market hosted more than 75 vendors, including farmers, ranchers, fisherman and food artisans.

“We’re looking at creating a vendor roster similar to last year but with very exciting new additions,” Kelly said.

Right now, the farmers market roster has about 70 vendors on it, but Kelly said people should not expect as many vendors in attendance as in the past. Like other farmers markets that have recently opened for the season — in University District and Ballard — the Queen Anne market will be following strict health and safety protocols in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic.

Kelly said he is working with health department officials on ensuring a safe, sanitary market. That means, the total number of vendors and the types of vendors will be reduced, at least at the start of the season, initially. Vendor booths will also be spaced out to allow for social distancing. Organizers are limiting the number of customers coming in at any given time, and a perimeter will be placed around the market to allow for only one entrance and exit. Demonstrations, music and activities are cancelled until further notice. Hand-washing and hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the market, and customers will also be limited to one per household. People are encouraged to pre-order and prepay with vendors.

“Really it’s a shopping opportunity, and we’re trying to prevent people from congregating,” Kelly said.

So, for at least the start of the season, vendors will be limited to selling produce, proteins and packaged bakery items.

“We’re not going to have the dinner options, at least for the start of the season,” Kelly said, adding that will change based on guidance from public health. “We will have those options when it is allowed by public health.”

The vendor directory will be listed on the website before the season starts. It will list options for pre-ordering and pre-paying and arranging for curb-side pickup where market staff will deliver orders that are already prepared to customer cars.

“We know that this is a difficult situation, but it’s now more important than ever to support farmers and our local food system,” Kelly said.

At the same time, they are following city and state guidelines to make sure they are operating safely.

“It’s going to be different is what I keep trying to tell folks,” Kelly said. “We just need to get through the pandemic together and safely and follow the guidance of public health.”

To start the season, people can expect root vegetables and leafy greens, along with beef, lamb, eggs and poultry.

In mid-June, berries come in.

“That is a huge draw for the market when folks come out for berries,” Kelly said.

The arrival of cherries in early June kick off the start of the stone fruits, including apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines, which come in June and July.

In August, corn will arrive, as well as other protein options like goat cheese from Tieton Farm & Creamery from Tieton, which are a “huge draw at the market,” Kelly said.

The farmers market will not host flower vendors, as that is not an essential agricultural item, Kelly said, adding he hopes they may come when guidelines are loosened a bit.

Kelly said he is excited about the new and returning vendors this year.

He said the market is welcoming Tallgrass Bakery, which is based out of Ballard and offers a range of items, including artisan breads, cookies, pastries, granola and more. As well, Aslan Brewing Co., based out of Bellingham with a tap room in Fremont, will be at the market on select weeks. Salt Blade, a handcrafted meat company that is sourced from Olsen Farms in Colville, Washington, is a returning vendor.

“We’re really excited to bring back many of the returning farms that the community knows and loves,” Kelly said.

Those include Collins Family Orchard; Our Family Farm, which grows strawberries and blueberries from Skagit Valley; and Little Big Farm, an organic grown vegetable farm out of Olympia.

And while they won’t be starting the season, Kelly said the market will feature a “stellar line up of food trucks, which are a great draw.”

A new addition will be Alaska Weathervane Scallop Food Truck, featuring hand-seared Alaskan scallops that are caught off the coast of Kodiak, Alaska, by the same people who run the truck.

“We love to have that farm-to-fork option for people, and we know that it’s going to be a big hit with the community,” Kelly said.

Another crowd pleaser is Brothers & Co., based out of Ballard, serving ramen and tacos using all locally sourced ingredients.

“So it’s going to be a really tasty market for sure,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be a different market for sure.”

The farmers market website will also have a link directing people to food vendors websites so people can support them by ordering takeout and deliver.

“We’re really feeling for all the small businesses that are really struggling through this, especially all the vendors who were looking forward to participating at the beginning of the season,” Kelly said.

The farmers market poster, created by a local artist, will be released May 4, which Kelly said have become collectors items. Kelly plans to schedule a poster signing at some point, possibly in August.

“It’s gonna be different this year, but it’s still going to be an excellent season, and it’s still going to have delicious food for our neighborhood that we are so excited for,” Kelly said.

People with questions or concerns about this year’s market are encouraged to email Kelly at director@qafm.org.

For more information about the farmers market or this year’s vendors, go to www.qafm.org.