Proposed South Park Floating Market
The South Park neighborhood lacks abundant supplies of fresh local farm produce. With no major nearby grocery stores, South Park residents either must commute relatively long distances for healthy food or purchase unhealthy products at local convenience stores. While a local food bank distributes to the needy, many residents are not experiencing the financial hardships necessary to warrant using the food bank.
FarmBoat is investigating the possibility of transporting local farm products up the Duwamish River to South Park on a weekly basis. This course will reestablish an historic maritime trading route that existed between South Park and Seattle in the mid to late 1800's. South Park was one of the first major agricultural centers in the Puget Sound region. The farmlands in the lower Duwamish delta sustained early Seattle settlers as they built the new city.
If a floating market program is implemented, FarmBoat plans to educate South Park residents about healthy local foods and agri-maritime history of the Duwamish and White River system. A floating market in South Park can help re-vitalize a waterfront neighborhood that has lost much of its historical identity over the last century due to heavy industry.
How to Get the Product Ashore
South Park lacks a public wharf that will allow easy access to FarmBoat vessels. However, there are two waterfront park access points with beaches that may be adequate for small shallow draft vessels to land. There is also a private marina in which produce can be off-loaded and carted to a public location for distribution. Neither solution is optimal, but may be workable in a short term situation. Ideally, South Park would have a public wharf along the river where the floating market could occur. (see South Park River Walk Initiative Proposal).
Community Assistance is Needed
Since there is no current access for the public to boats, FarmBoat will need volunteer community support to help unload produce either at the waterfront parks or at South Park Marina and transport it to a location where the public can inspect and purchase in a manner that is commensurate with the maritime educational objectives of the program.
Procuring a Vessel
FarmBoat is currently in the process of securing the use of a vessel that may be adequate for bringing in local farm produce from other nearby Puget Sound ports. An historic 30' Bristol Bay gillnetter is a likely candidate for the Duwamish River route. FarmBoat advocates using historic vessels to conduct floating markets because they carry a unique appeal that helps convey a "back to basics" healthy eating philosophy.
Developing a Route
FarmBoat anticipates potentially coordinating the operation of a vessel between Bainbridge, West Seattle and South Park on a weekly basis during the sumer growing season. The route will enable South Park to receive goods from Bainbridge Island Farms as well as other farms around the region. West Seattle Produce Company has expressed interest in partially stocking the boat. FarmBoat is seeking to work with a youth organization willing to provide maritime learning experiences to undeserved youth in South Park and West Seattle.