Meet your neighbor – Chris Curtis

Driving the public good


Chris Curtis, UW alumna and founder of the U-District Farmers Market, discusses the many benefits of city markets as the U-District market celebrates its 20th anniversary.

(Front Porch, September 2013)

“Younger generations don’t remember a time without farmers markets, but I do,” says Chris Curtis, founder of the University District Farmers Market. The market, which has been nationally recognized as one of the best in the country, is now celebrating its 20th anniversary.

After graduating from the University of Washington with degrees in anthropology and sociology, Chris remained in the area and sought a way to give back to her home of 40 years.

Inspired by the farmers markets in California, Chris held the first U-District market with 17 farmers in 1993. Since then, the market has grown to more than 100 vendors offering local goods.

The rising success of the market triggered a farming renaissance, fostering future generations of Washington farmers. “These markets are truly making a difference whether people stay in farming or not. Part-time farmers have now become full-time farmers,” adds Chris. UW students are also learning the benefits of local food through internships with the market.

The market has greatly impacted the neighborhood’s sustainability, with market-goers annually spending $1.5 million at U-District shops and stores. Chris also helped cultivate a relationship between farmers and the U-District Food Bank, resulting in more than 17,000 pounds of fresh produce being donated each year.

With attendance increasing and a growing wait list for vendors, Chris is looking forward to what fruits the market will continue to bring for local farming and the U-District alike.

The U-District Farmers Market is held every Saturday from 9 a.m.– 2 p.m. on University Way NE between NE 50th and 52nd St. To learn more, visit 

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Alumni | College of Arts & Sciences