For the past 15 years, Veraci Pizza has been a staple at the Ballard Farmers Market.
Every Sunday, a near-constant line of people would be waiting for a slice of woodfired pizza from the local vendor. But now, the market organizers have decided not to renew their tenancy — yesterday was their last day at the market.
“It was not our choice to leave,” Veraci co-owner Errin Byrd tells My Ballard. Veraci is the epitome of homegrown — they started with a small stand at the Ballard Farmers Market in 2004. Since then, they’ve expanded into several brick-and-mortar restaurants across Seattle and Washington state.
Byrd says the Ballard market management told them two things: that they wanted to support smaller businesses and be an incubator for new vendors, and that they wanted Veraci to source ingredients from the market vendors.
“We source many of our ingredients locally but need the food to be prepped out of a commercial kitchen,” Byrd said. “So I could not see how we could buy food that day and prepare it in a commercial kitchen before we opened at the market.”
Doug Farr, Ballard Farmers Market manager, told My Ballard that first and foremost, the market is about farmers. “Our core is to help out farmers. They are the ones struggling in today’s world of mass retailers and big grocery stores.
“As part of the Washington Farmers Market Association, we ask that all of our vendors support Washington farmers — food that is grown in our state,” Farr said.
“When you go to a market, you are of the belief you’re supporting local economy and local farmers. Veraci is of course part of our local economy, and I’ve been grateful to see them grow to where they are today. But with that being the case, they now have a number of stores, and they’re sourcing on a larger scale.”
Farr said that going forward, they are working on strict sourcing guidelines for their prepared food vendors: at least 18 percent of all ingredients must be sourced locally. He said he’s spoken to all the other market vendors — the market management will be verifying each vendor’s sourcing.
When Veraci first started, the market served as a perfect place for their business to grow, according to Farr. Now, he said it’s time to offer someone else the same opportunity. A new woodfired pizza vendor has signed on who plans to have a soft opening next Sunday.
“Right now we are giving another person a chance to fulfill a dream,” Farr said, emphasizing that the new owner is a Ballard resident.
Veraci operates at several other farmer’s markets, but Ballard was their only year-round market. “Losing this income in our off-season is a big hit to the mobile part of our business,” Byrd said.
“We love the market and wish them well. We are sad to be asked to leave.”