For centuries, the farmers market has been a gathering place that satisfied economic, social and cultural needs. Often situated on intersections of well-traveled trade routes, these markets enriched their communities, bringing people and goods together in ways that nurtured body and soul.

While not always placed on literal crossroads, the farmers market today is still an exquisite intersection of business, social interactions, food, arts and crafts, and even music, all in one lively place. And, in the last few years, Grays Harbor County has cultivated a bumper crop of them – four of the summer variety and one year-round market!

Photo by Rick Moyer

These are venues where neighbor greets neighbor, tourists enjoy a taste and feel of the local culture, artists display and sell their work, and nonprofit organizations let the community know what they are up to. It’s where connections and collaborations are birthed. And of course, it’s a place where fresh, local, healthful food – along with scrumptious treats – nourish, tempt and tantalize.

Some of the vendors, including Rob and Rocki Horton, of Elma’s Bee Organic Farm and Apiary, sell at several of the markets. (See story on page 13.) Rob brings a vitality to the markets as he heartily hocks his healthy produce – tomatoes, radishes, bunches of carrots and beets – in Elma, Montesano and Aberdeen – in a manner that would make a fishmonger proud.

“Our market features everything from fresh seafood and handcrafted garden gnomes to fresh flowers and wood artists,” said Jeff Wilson, the market organizer at Seabrook. “It showcases local artisans who might not be able to get in front of large groups and it also creates a sense of community as people gather. It has a throwback feel to it,” he said, “because people get to actually talk to the person they are buying the products from.”

Montesano’s market organizer Beca Wharton shared similar thoughts: “Montesano’s Saturday Morning Market isn’t just an opportunity to promote economic growth and encourage tourism; it is also an opportunity for each of us to sow into each other, whether financially or with just a smile … because we all benefit from investing into each other, and what better way is there to spend a Saturday?”

Photo by Rick Moyer

When it comes to local farmers markets, Grays Harbor Farmers Market, 1956 Riverside Ave., in Hoquiam, is the grandmother of the bunch, with many seasoned years of experience. It also has the distinction of being one of just two year-round markets in the state!

Beginning in 1975, an intrepid group of vendors struggled with the weather and various venues for years. Then in 1995, the current building was erected. Now, the Grays Harbor Farmers Market includes some 30 vendors in a comfortable building that includes Deidra’s Deli and bathroom facilities. Open seven days a week, it’s always a great place to pick up a meal, treat, gift, handmade card, toy, piece of jewelry or art, or other Grays Harbor-inspired item.

Photo by Rick Moyer

Of the Harbor’s outdoor summer markets, Elma’s Friday Market, the youngest and smallest of the group, is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. each Friday, June 3 – Sept. 30, at the Elma Chamber of Commerce, 222 W. Main St. Only in its second year, this summer’s Elma’s Friday Market will expand to include artisans. There are no vendor fees this year, although pre-registration is required, according to Jillanna Bickford, director of the Elma Chamber of Commerce.Montesano and Seabrook both hold their markets on Saturdays, with Montesano’s Saturday Morning Market, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., July 9 – Aug. 27, in Fleet Park; and Seabrook’s Saturday Market from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 25 – Sept. 3, on Seabrook’s Market Street.

Started in 2016, Montesano’s Saturday Morning Market is the largest of the bunch, with an average of about 40 vendors each week, frequent painting-in-the-park classes, live music and special events. Seabrook’s market, which features about 24 vendors, is carefully curated so that everything is either handcrafted or produced by the proprietors.

Then on Sundays, the vendors at the Aberdeen Sunday Market, located at the south end of E. Heron and State streets, are open for business from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 22 – Oct. 2. This market, which began in 2019, averages about 25 vendors a week. Its offerings include frequent theme days, live music and weekly belly dancing lessons!

In addition, Lauren Garrett, the manager of the Aberdeen Sunday Market as well as the executive director of a WHOLE Harbor, an umbrella non-profit organization that encompasses the market, says that they have found ways for low-income households to stretch their food benefits at the market.

“People tend to think that buying local and organically produced food is beyond their budget,” she said. “But we not only take SNAP/EBT benefits, we also match them dollar-for-dollar through the SNAP Market Match Program!

We’re also an Authorized Market with the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). That program gives additional benefits to WIC recipients in the form of vouchers to spend at participating farmers markets!”

Photo by Rick Moyer

Business Incubator

A farmers market is a place where larger businesses have an accessible face to customers and emerging businesses have a safe place to incubate, working out the kinks to see if they can survive and grow. But it’s not just the vendors in the market that profit, the organizers of the Grays Harbor’s farmers markets agree that the vitality of a bustling marketplace helps the business climate of the entire area. Instead of worrying about new competition, when it comes to commerce, the truth seems to be that indeed “a rising tide floats all boats.”

Photo by Rick Moyer

“The Aberdeen Sunday Market gives a venue for Aberdeen and the surrounding areas to really showcase all that we have to offer, especially to tourists!” Garrett said. “Of course, there’s the increased revenue and tax base that comes with the support of local small businesses as well. And not only the businesses that directly participate in the market either. A lot of foot traffic is created for the surrounding ones as well.”

“The market helps everyone bring people together,” said Elma’s Bickford. “It helps our local businesses and restaurants and brings them customers too.” Montesano’s Wharton agreed: “Our community thrives on its local businesses, whether big or small, and the market is a great place to showcase some of these incredible vendors.

As a coordinated event of the Montesano Chamber of Commerce, we are dedicated to the economic growth and success of our business community.”

Montesano’s market warms up baking business

For Joanne Rose, Montesano’s Saturday Morning Market served as a warming oven of sorts to help her baking business rise. Having enjoyed baking since her early teens, the longtime Montesano School District paraeducator offered her baked goods and decorative wooden crafts and terrariums for sale at the Montesano Saturday Morning Market beginning in 2019.

“In order to sell baked goods at the market I had to get licensed and a state food permit, so I decided to go one step further and start a baking business. I wanted to start small, so I consider myself a micro-mini business,” Rose said.

As she moved forward, pursuing the time-consuming paperwork to obtain a food processing permit, her “very handy” husband Shawn, went to work too, converting a small building on their property, a former game room for their now-grown sons, into a fully inspected and licensed food processor kitchen. With its two ovens, glistening stainless steel cooling shelves and immaculate counter tops, this is where all of the baked goods and delicious jams for “Joanne’s Jams and Tasty Treats” are produced.

Photo by Rick Moyer

“I really enjoy selling at the market, talking with the people and seeing them enjoy what I make,” she said. “A couple of people have told me, ‘I’ve waited all year for your marionberry pie.’ ’’

Now she can provide it, along with other pies, cookies, bars, quick breads, yeast breads and jams through special orders year-round via her Facebook page.  Receiving feedback and knowing she had a growing clientele developed through the market gave her confidence to take the plunge.

Elma Friday Market

June 3 – Sept. 30
Noon to 6 p.m. each Friday
Commerce 222 W. Main St.

For more information, contact Jillanna Bickford, Director of the Elma Chamber of Commerce, (360) 482-3055, or visit its website at

Montesano’s Saturday Morning Market

July 9- Aug. 27
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday
In and around Fleet Park

For more information, contact Beca Wharton at

Seabrook Saturday Market

June 25 – Sept. 3
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Saturday
On Market Street

For more information, contact Jeff Wilson at (360) 276-4108;, or visit the Seabrook website

Aberdeen Sunday Market

South end of Broadway
May 22 – Oct. 2
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Sunday

For more information, contact Lauren Garrett at, or visit the Aberdeen Sunday Market Facebook page.

Grays Harbor Farmers Market

1956 Riverside Ave., Hoquiam
Open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mon. – Thurs.
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday
9 to 5 p.m. Saturday
And 11 to 4 p.m. Sunday

For more information, contact Nancy Lachel at the market, (360) 538-9747, or visit the market’s Facebook page.