Vendors Take the Lead as Farmers Market Winds Up Season

If you’ve been to the Yelm Farmers Market recently, you may not have noticed anything different. If not, that’s a credit to two local farmers / vendors who have emerged as leaders in what has been a tumultuous year. In the absence of a regular market manager at the end of August, Mari Mankamyer of Mari’s Farms and Lucas Howe of Root Cellar Farm ave stepped in to keep the market open.

In 2017, a federally mandated split between the for-profit and non-profit arms of the Yelm Cooperative meant that the farmers market lost the annual subsidy that has usually come through membership fees from the umbrella organization. Although in recent years the market has come close to funding itself, the gap was too much to bridge. By the end of August, funds had run out to continue to a pay full-time manager.

That’s when Howe, Mankamyer, and Mankamyer’s husband Tim Mann stepped up. “We didn’t want the customers to lose faith in the market,” says Howe. “We were able to find a middle ground by doing what we could for the month of September and making sure everyone understood the market was going to remain open.”

The transition has been relatively seamless, says Mankamyer. “Tim’s been handling a lot of the logistics, but for the vendors, everyone knows each other and gets along well.” Perhaps the main difference has been an increased level of communication among vendors and the new leadership team. “I’ve been in other markets where you only see the manager once,” says Howe. “I’ve made an effort to speak with every vendor at least once every market. By listening, I know what they need and can do my best to see that they get it.”

New customers are still discovering the market, even though it’s now six years old, says Mankamyer. “To this day we get a lot of new people coming through that had no idea we were here. Having signs out is crucial.”

Potentials for next year include a move to the new community center in Yelm City Park and deeper collaboration with like-minded groups focused on strong food networks and food security. “The potential of moving to the city center sounds really cool,” says Howe. “I’ve also enjoyed Nisqually Springs Farm for the past few years. If we’re going to move it would need discussion with the people it affects the most.”

Whatever unfolds next year, he has a message for the community. “As farmers, we want to feed everyone and make sure they’re getting good food. When you shop at the market, your money is staying in the community.”

Mankamyer echoes that sentiment. “Come and support us,” she says. “This is a team effort. It takes everyone to make it happen. This is something we’re planning to have around for years to come.”

Water Cannon at the Yelm Farmers Market Sept 2nd!

Temps in the 90’s on our next Yelm Farmers Market day, Sunday, Sept 2nd and we’ve got a treat for you!

Let the kids (and adults!) cool off under the spray of the water cannon – looks kind of like this:



Before and after, visit our great vendors and take some farm fresh fruits and vegetables, or some great crafts, home with you!

The cannon will be “firing” from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. thanks to Glenn Schorno, our host at the Nisqually Springs Farm.

The Vendors of the Yelm Farmers Market

P.S. If you’d like Bounty for Families to be able to keep the Yelm Farmers Market going in 2018, you can help by volunteering for lots of different tasks and/or by making a simple recurring donation. Go here and click on the “Support Your BFF” button: …and Thanks!!!

Yelm Farmers Market open until end of Sept!

yelm farmers market

New development: the Yelm Farmers Market will remain open until at least the end of September and NOT close the end of August as earlier reported.

The vendors themselves will be coordinating the operation for the remainder of the season.

We expect all the vendors to return so come out and get your favorite goodies – lots of produce will be featured at the farmer stands, and all the other great products you’ve come to expect will be there, too!

Come support your local farmers market and the vendors – they rock!

Watch this space for developments for 2018’s market.

Yelm Farmers Market ends Aug 27th

yelm farmers market

The Yelm Farmers Market will end its 2017 season Aug 27th.

We have had some great vendors this year who stayed true to the market even though it was smaller this year. We look forward to building 2018 with them and making next year a “reboot” year for the market. Some of those wonderful vendors are Mari’s Farm, Root Cellar Farm, Fardell Farms, Bee Forever, Reed’s Sweet Wine, Rawk Star Creations and  Yummy Local Foods. Thanks so much!

We have also had awesome sponsors like OBEE Credit Union, Olympia Federal Savings, Yelm Family Medicine, Crowe Law, Timberland Bank and Blue Waters Acupuncture Center. Thank you so much!

We are excited that the city administration of Yelm has been so motivated to get us to move back to the city next year. They have adopted all the code change recommendations we submitted to them and now locations are being reviewed to determine if the move from the farm is the right one to make.

yelm farmers market pop kids club

Power of Produce Kids Club was a success again this year with over 400 members! In this program, each child, aged 5-12, gets 2 $1 tokens each week to spend on fruit, veggies or plant starts. Cashing these tokens in gives the kids a chance to learn from the vendors about the products they are buying. This educational aspect to the market is a really important on for us!

Keep checking in with us for details about the Yelm Farmers Market for next year!


The Yelm Cooperative is Now Bounty For Families

Bounty For Families Cartoon Market

2017 will be an exciting year for the Yelm Cooperative!

Earlier this year we got a notification from the IRS that we needed to separate the Yelm Food Co-op retail store from the Yelm Cooperative, which serves as the umbrella organization for both the store and the Farmers Market (yes, we know the names are very similar). While the Yelm Cooperative is a federally recognized non-profit, the store clearly does not fall under that category. As a result, we are splitting the non-profit umbrella organization away from the store, which will now be its own separate entity. The non-profit will focus on what we do best, where our passion lies, and where we feel we can have the greatest impact in the community. As of January 1, 2017, the former Yelm Cooperative will be called:

Bounty For Families Full Logo

Why Bounty for Families? Simple. When we think of signature programs that involve our non-profit arm, all of them involve food and families. For the past seven years, we’ve fed over a hundred local families each year through the Gift of Gobble program, providing full Thanksgiving meals to those in need.

We have raised a total of $32,896.00 for this project and spent nearly $33,775.00 feeding local families.

Through the Yelm Farmers Market, we have also developed the Power of Produce which empowers children to make healthy food choices and learn about where their food comes from each week.

Within the last year, this program impacted nearly 600 young people aged 5-12 and gave them a new perspective on the food they eat. The challenge? This program is fully funded by the Yelm Farmers Market and the Yelm Cooperative to the tune of almost $6,000.00.

For us to continue this popular and effective program, we will need either a corporate sponsor or many individual donors so that we can raise the approximately $5,000.00 we need for the 2017 Yelm Farmers Market season.

In addition, south Thurston County has a large percentage of families that struggle with hunger from one day to the next. There are hundreds of kids in the area that are on the Homeless Backpacks program and special school lunch programs.

Clearly, Bounty to the Families can fill a compelling need in our area and that will be the focus of our work from 2017 forward.

These expanded outreach efforts will take a village. We’ll need committee members for membership, fundraising, outreach, marketing, finance and more, and there will be opportunities to join the Board of Directors as well.

To get involved, contact us at

We look forward to moving into the future together!

Tom Dewell
President, Board of Directors
Bounty for Families (formerly Yelm Cooperative)