Floating Markets in Every Port:
Help Us Connect Eighteen Ports on Puget Sound
FarmBoat plans to eventually develop Floating Markets in eighteen different ports on Puget Sound with three vessels running six days per week. In addition to the floating markets, numerous whistle stops are planed for farm pickups and CSA deliveries. We hope to inspire other vessels such as fishing boats, trampers and float-in entertainers to join our markets too. This is a grass-roots collaboration between local food producers and maritime heritage organizations. The idea is to bring back some resemblance of the days of the Mosquito Fleet--a time when the entrepreneurial spirit of early day seafarers and pioneers resulted in a plethora of activity on waters of Puget Sound. The more interest and support we get from Puget Sound residents, the sooner we will be able to achieve our goals.
What is a Floating Market?
FarmBoat uses the term "Floating Markets" to describe a single boat or group of boats operating as a floating retail market when provisioned with various locally produced goods for the public to buy at dockside venues such as marinas and municipal wharfs. Our vision of a FarmBoat Floating Market is a thematic maritime event that captures the essence of a traditional old-world open air market similar to what might have been seen in small seaports around the world a century ago.
How the FarmBoat Floating Market Concept Works:
The basic concept is similar to what occurred on Puget Sound more than a hundred years ago. Farmers and mariners got together and transported goods to municipal docks. Patrons came to depend on regular deliveries of farm-fresh produce, seafoods and supplies.
FarmBoat operates in part like a farmers marketing cooperative to promote and coordinate the delivery of local foods from farms and other food producers to waterfront communities on a regularly scheduled basis. Open to the public at each port of call, these boats will serve as both floating farmers markets and maritime heritage exhibits--fostering civic involvement and contributing to the unique character and vitality of Northwest waterfront communities.
Goods are either sold by the ship's crew or by the food producers themselves who pay a fee to participate as they would in land based farmers markets. However, the value-added attraction of a water-side venue coupled with appeal of historic maritime flavor will deliver much more than just the typical market experience.
The key advantage that a water-centric maritime distribution system has today over the historic Mosquito fleet vessels of a century ago is that internet communication can be utilized to virtually represent food producers to convey the type and quality of goods offered before the boats arrive at the dock.
A CSA type program will be offered in many of the communities we plan to serve. CSA Members will be able to pick up seasonal farm fresh produce each week at the dock. Non-members will be able to purchase items off the boats as well. However, CSA members will have the advantage of selecting goods before the market opens and ability to request specific items for future deliveries.
Our goal is to eventually service eighteen different ports on Puget Sound with at least three primary FarmBoat vessels working weekly routes. Each boat will be staffed with a licensed captain and cook/deckhand plus part time interns and volunteers. These primary FarmBoat vessels will have cargo hold refrigeration capability to keep food fresh as the vessel progresses along it's weekly route. The vessels will be loading and off-loading cargo at different ports and, in some cases, assembling CSA member allotments along the way. There will be many opportunities for youth program participants, interns and volunteers to learn first hand about maritime operations from managing cargo manifests to experiencing navigation on Puget Sound and through the San Juan Islands.
We envision that the primary FarmBoat vessels will typically spend a day in each port on their route in order to transact sales, load cargo, give tours, host entertainment, share stories, and conduct food demonstrations that help patrons learn about local sustainable agriculture. These vessels may also offer hostel style bunk and breakfast accommodations. It is expected that Puget Sound and San Juan Island "freighter vacations" will be of interest to adventure travelers.
Other vessels of varying sizes and types along with their produce and craft vendors will be invited to join the primary farm product delivery vessels at FarmBoat Market Events where space is available.
Each vessel participating in FarmBoat Market Events is owned and operated either privately or by non-profit maritime heritage organizations. FarmBoat's primary purpose is to coordinate, schedule and promote the floating market concept and expose visitors to the traditional working maritime heritage of the Pacific Northwest.