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April 11, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Farmers Market 2.0? Microsoft gets its own Pike Place Express

Pike Place Market file photo by Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times

Pike Place Market file photo by Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times

Can we call it Farmers Market 2.0?

Pike Place Market, which operates a handful of satellite summer farmers markets throughout the city, is expanding to Redmond to open a “Pike Place Market Express” in the Microsoft Commons this summer. It’s getting with the program, so to speak, with an anticipated 12 to 14 vendors and artisan food producers. The sellers will be familiar faces to regular Pike Place shoppers; all vendors selling at the satellite markets are required to sell on the street at Pike Place at least one day for every Express Market where they participate. The Microsoft market will run Tuesdays from mid-June through the beginning of October. (Redmond also has its own well-established farmers market, a Saturday market starting up May 3, though the Microsoft campus is something of a village on its own.)

The Microsoft Commons branch is one of two new express markets approved for 2014 by the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority. Pike Place will also take over management of the farmers market Virginia Mason Medical Center has been operating for the past few years on First Hill, which will run on Mondays in Lindeman Pavilion, also starting mid-June. “We will be working to make sure that market has a good variety of produce and products to serve not only VMMC employees, but the surrounding First Hill neighborhood,” said Kelly Lindsay, Director of Programs & Marketing for the authority, in an email. “With us taking on the management role, we will also be able to offer greater access for low-income customers,” by accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer cards and benefits from the The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). It will also have some matching funds available through the City of Seattle’s Fresh Bucks program,” which provides some matching funds. (The Microsoft market will accept EBT and WIC/Senior FMNP benefits, and they are “looking into ways that we can provide EBT matching from other funding sources since Redmond is outside the reach of the current Fresh Bucks program.”)

Pike Place will also continue to run the Wednesday market in Pioneer Square that began last year, as well as the original express markets at City Hall on Tuesdays and at South Lake Union on Thursdays.

Was there any debate about expanding out of Seattle?

“The decision to go to Redmond was one that we very carefully considered, both internally with our staff and with the PDA Council. In the end, we felt that the benefit to our farmers of having an additional source of sales revenue, coupled with Microsoft’s commitment to helping us make this market successful outweighed any concerns over geographic boundaries,” Lindsay said.

What’s next? Google, it’s your move.

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