The new season of the Bremerton Community Farmers Market starts tomorrow, and it’s a great time to introduce the Market Manager, Suzanne Campbell.
Suzanne’s education and experience have prepared her well for the role. With a degree in Sociology from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), Suzanne’s former jobs involved the coordination and planning of events as well as money and budget management.
Suzanne was the Drug Elimination Coordinator for the Tacoma Housing Authority and a Resource Coordinator for Mercy Housing. She was hired to coordinate the Single Mom’s Car Care event for single mothers at a local Tacoma-area church. And she currently owns My Life In Plants, where she sells plants and soil and teaches classes, though she’s had to put the latter on the back burner while she and her team are working to get the market up and running for the 2023 season. That’s dedication!
The seeds of Suzanne’s market involvement were planted during her early visits. “I started by visiting the market and thought about volunteering my time. Then I saw the advertisement for assistant manager and the rest, as they say, is history.”
In August of 2021, Suzanne started as the assistant market manager. “As assistant manager, I learned a lot about the day-to-day activities the manager performs on market day. I scheduled musicians and volunteers, set up Senior Day, wrote a safety manual, and much more. I think a lot of the former managers were assistants before they moved up.”
Asked about her favorite part of being market manager, Suzanne says, “I just started the job in March, and so far, my favorite part has been knowing my work is keeping a vital food resource in the community. I love connecting people with resources because that empowers them to look for even more.” And her biggest challenge? “Finding farms that have the staff and the produce to attend a weekly market.”
Even though Bremerton is smaller in size and population than Seattle or Tacoma, the upside is the beautiful park where the market is located. “Evergreen Rotary Park has the physical space to grow, and I’d love to see the market expand so that people outside the area see it as an important destination,” Suzanne says.
When asked how the market will assist the area’s underserved communities, Suzanne didn’t hesitate to share the good news. “My jobs with the Tacoma Housing Authority and Mercy Housing both involved working with these communities in what are termed ‘food deserts,’ areas that have limited access to affordable, nutritious food. I believe the downtown area of Bremerton fits into this category.”
“For five and a half months a year, the farmers market fills a void by bringing nutritious food to the area. The market accepts SNAP/EBT and will match up to $25 in Market Match coupons good to spend on fruits and vegetables. WIC is accepted at certain produce sellers and this year, in addition to the farmers market benefits that participants can apply for, any WIC recipient can use their Cash Value Benefits (CVB) at the farmers market just like they would at the grocery store. Soon, seniors can also apply for income-based farmers market benefits. Eligible seniors will receive up to $80 to use at farm vendors for fruits and vegetables.”
Today’s market unfortunately has been affected by the recent past, especially the lingering legacy of the pandemic. “As I and others continue to reach out to farms and vendors, there are many who went out of business, decided to close, or have relocated for other work.” (If you know a small farmer, producer or rancher who might be interested in selling their products at the market, please email Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Of course, running a farmers market is a team effort and Suzanne talks about the market’s new board in glowing terms. “The new board has been a huge support! They have incredible talents that they bring with them to make such an awesome team. There is an abundance of technical skills, social media knowledge, website management, connections with other people, businesses and organizations, and involvement in this and other farmers markets. The best thing is every single one of them has an enthusiasm to keep the market in the community and run by community members.”
This enthusiasm extends to the City of Bremerton. “We love the City of Bremerton! We wouldn’t have such a great place to operate if not for them. From Mayor Greg Wheeler and Parks Department Director Jeff Elevado to the maintenance staff at the park and support staff at the City, everyone is so helpful and you can feel their desire to always lend a helping hand. Evergreen Rotary Park is a beautiful venue that families and individuals love in general and having the market there is an added bonus!”
Suzanne, our farmers, vendors and volunteers all look forward to meeting you at the market!