Jennifer Antos is the executive director of Neighborhood Farmers Markets, which celebrates 30 years in August. Neighborhood Farmers Markets hosted its first market in Seattle and has since added West Seattle, Capitol Hill, Magnolia, Columbia City, Lake City and Phinney. Learn about Jennifer Antos…
Follow at: @jantos___ (three underscores)
Hometown: Gig Harbor, WA
First job: As a kid, my mother would bring me to work at her store in Downtown Gig Harbor. It was a children’s clothing store, and I would organize hangers and make displays. As a teenager, I worked at a nursery and rose farm in the Harbor, and painting faces at Patterson’s Farm Stand during the fall.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: Without a doubt, hiking and backpacking. I just returned from a four-day beach hike on the Olympic Coast and Makah Tribal Lands.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: Finishing graduate school while working full time. It was worth the effort in the end!
The biggest obstacle you overcame: Without a doubt, the pandemic. Managing a crisis with that level of uncertainty was full of challenges. The markets are a critical source of income – sometimes 100 percent of household income – for the small farms and food businesses we serve. Despite the restrictions on markets, the clarity of our purpose, our adaptability and ability to focus on solutions got us through it.
Someone who inspires you and why: Our market managers. The Neighborhood Farmers Markets has an incredible team of staff who manage vendor relationships, curate the products and create really incredible public spaces. Their ability to manage complex operations and balance the needs of the public, our vendors and the wider community is remarkable.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: People should know that the local food system and farmers markets present a wide variety of career opportunities. From nonprofit management and public administration, to community organizing, product development and supply-chain management. It might seem like a fringe job, but we’ve had staff develop their careers as farmers, consultants, program managers and tech entrepreneurs from the farmers markets.
Favorite quote: “To love a place is not enough. We must find ways to heal it.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: This won’t surprise people who know me, but I love a creative project. From drawing and painting to a bathroom renovation, if I don’t have a project going on I’m not truly satisfied.
What makes someone fabulous: I love when people are unapologetically themselves.