Tavon Center Farmers Market helps adults with disabilities
June 19, 2012
By Katie Larsen
A little booth in Gilman Village is making a big difference.
The Tavon Center Farmers Market allows adults with disabilities to interact with community members. The market is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 20 outside the center.
“We hope to grow as the summer goes on,” said Jaime “Billy” Billingsly, staff member at the center.
Right now, the market sells plants of tomatoes, green onions, peppers and basil, and flowers. Big sellers include farm fresh eggs and cookies. Tavon Center short- and long-sleeved shirts are also available to purchase.
“Not only does it give clients the opportunity to grow, but the staff, too,” Billingsly said.All of the goods are grown at the center’s farm on Black Nugget Road. The farm has five acres of land with plants and various animals, including goats, chickens, dogs and cats. There are only eight or nine egg-laying chickens but the farm got 24 new additions, which should produce by September.
“A lot of these centers have fill-time work with no senses of purpose,” said Megan Wegner, the market’s program director.
This is the second year for the market, which features only one booth, but Billingsly said she hopes to include more vendors as the season progresses.
The Tavon Center opened its doors in 2008 to help connect people with disabilities with nature and the community, and the farmers market helps fulfill this purpose.
“It’s grown a ton in the past four years,” Wegner said.
Currently, the center works with 36 clients. Most clients join the center every other day during two sessions, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Billingsly and Wegner said they feel their place at the center was meant to be. Billingsly has a little brother who is severely disabled physically and mentally and that inspired her to work at the center.
“I feel blessed to be here,” she said. “It’s an amazing job and I love it.”
Through June 24, the center will collect donations through Groupon for an event June 26 called “Build-A-Bench-A-Thon.” In partnership with the Pomegranate Center, the Tavon Center is raising money to build accessible seating areas within the farm for its clients to enjoy the plants and animals.
Katie Larsen: 392-6434, ext. 236, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.