Islander steps forward to manage Vashon’s thriving farmers market

Ivan Weiss - Leslie Brown/staff photo
Ivan Weiss
— image credit: Leslie Brown/staff photo

Shoppers at the Farmers Market in the next few weeks may notice an enthusiastic new addition: Ivan Weiss, 65, Vashon’s new Farmers Market manager.

He’s a longtime market shopper, a tiller of his own soil in Upper Burton and an advocate of sustainable agriculture. And beginning next week, he’ll be the one to turn to with questions, comments and even complaints about the Island’s Saturday and Wednesday markets.

A Democratic party activist and former professional journalist and union organizer, Weiss is a “good communicator, mediator and leader,” said departing market manager Joanne Jewell, who has held the position for more than two years.

Weiss has been a member of Vashon Island Growers Association “almost since its inception,” and said he thinks he’s a perfect fit for the position.

“I’m totally pumped about this job,” said Weiss, who is coming out of retirement to take on the half-time managerial post. “I hope people can be confident that I’m there for them and I’m looking for every way to make them succeed.”

A Vashon resident for more than 30 years, Weiss said he sees massive promise in the Island’s Farmers Market.

“I think there’s potential for Vashon agricultural products to reach out to the Seattle and Tacoma markets,” he said. “And there’s no reason why Vashon products shouldn’t be on sale at both (Island) supermarkets whenever they are in season. If the growers start thinking in those terms, there’s plenty of room for growth.”

Weiss said he’s been “peripherally involved” with the Farmers Market for years, and he remembers its first days in the open space between the True Value rental center and the Subway building — which wasn’t built yet at the time.

Jewell said she has an inkling as to a challenge Weiss may face right away. There are so many farmers selling produce, plants and more at the market, she said, that one of Weiss’ upcoming tasks may be reaching out to new market shoppers — “doing a little more education of the people who haven’t become acquainted with the Farmers Market” — to ensure that demand keeps up with supply.

Weiss said shopping at the market is a no-brainer.

“Why shouldn’t we all be eating food that’s grown right here?” he said.

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