Vendors prepare for the new season at the Olympia Farmers Market. Here’s what to expect
Sarah and Gabriel Baisan are the operators of Skipping Stone Garden in Olympia. They are about to embark on their sixth season selling fresh produce at the Olympia Farmers Market, and this year they’re joined by their 11-month-old daughter, Juniper, making it extra special. Plus, they’re planning to attend the market on all four days, every weekend, for the first time.
The high season for the Olympia Farmers Market starts Saturday, April 1, and will go through Sunday, Oct. 29. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.
Sarah said Skipping Stone offers a wide variety of produce, with a focus on microgreens such as radishes, turnips, beets, squash, baby chard and arugula. They’ve also started to sell salad mixes and micro salad bowls, which Sarah said have been popular.
The Baisans are trying their hand at bouquets this year, too, made with fresh cut flowers they grow.
Their booth is often picked clean by the end of the day, and Gabriel said they’re expanding their agricultural footprint to provide even more on market weekends and ensure they don’t run out. He said with the land expansion and having an almost 1-year-old, it’s been a year full of moving and size changes.
“We’re looking forward to the day she can help us weed the garden,” Sarah said.
Sarah and Gabriel first started selling produce at the Tumwater farmers market, using less than an acre of backyard land to grow vegetables. Gabriel said he attended The Evergreen State College at the time, where he learned about organic farming. Once he graduated, he interned at a couple of farms to learn more. In 2017, the couple decided to get serious about it, start a larger farm and apply for a business license.
The two took what they had learned from school and long-term family gardening knowledge and put it into action, using some of Sarah’s grandmother’s land.
The Baisans made half their income at the Tumwater market and the other half here and there, selling at roadside stands along Mud Bay Road and at a market on Steamboat Island. Sarah even found success selling to coworkers at her full-time job, until the two made farming their full-time jobs just before the 2020 pandemic. At this time, they had started selling at the Olympia market.
Gabriel said the two of them got to know vendors well during the pandemic. Sarah said the vendor family is essential to the experience of being at the market. She said it’s only become a more welcoming and inclusive space, and the two of them are excited to welcome in new vendors as they come along this year.
Gabriel said they started leasing land near Evergreen and it’s doubled the size of their operation, but it’s a pretty small chunk of land. He said they’re on the hunt for property they can fully call theirs and continue to expand their operation. He said maybe they’ll dip into selling wholesale for local restaurants in the future, but said they’re looking forward to focusing on the Olympia market for now.
Market general manager Wren Green said microgreen operations similar to the Baisans’ business are becoming very popular at the Olympia market. She said there have been a handful of new microgreen vendors sign up this year, and they’re expecting a new mead vendor, which Green is excited about.
A total of 80 vendors are scheduled to be selling this weekend, she said.
Green said the market has forged a partnership with Future Farmers of America, and some students in the program will be ringing the ceremonial bell on Saturday.