Archive for the ‘Market Experiences’ Category

Sunday, January 27th: New Faces, Old Faces & One Great Year-Round Farmers Market!

January 26, 2013
Heather Howell making cheese at Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo courtesy Twin Oaks Creamery.

Heather Howell making cheese at Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo courtesy Twin Oaks Creamery.

One might think January is anything but an exciting month here at your Ballard Farmers Market. One would be wrong! As a year-round market, we shine this time of year, with dozens of world-class food producers lining historical Ballard Avenue while almost every other market in the state is in its winter slumber. Plus, we are actually adding new vendors this time of year. This week, please welcome our newest: Twin Oaks Creamery! Based in Chehalis, Twin Oaks was nearly wiped off the face of the earth by the historic flood of 2007. But they have been working hard to rebuild their dairy farm business since that horrific event, they now have healthy goat and cow herds for milking and a modern cheese-making facility, and they have set their sites on farmers markets for their future. To that end, they arrive today with pasteurized goat and cow milk and cheese. And in the coming weeks and months, they will continue to expand their offerings to include aged raw milk cheesesyogurt and more! And we couldn’t be more thrilled! While we have a reliable supply of raw milk from Sea Breeze Farm, we’ve been without pasteurized milk, or any goat milk, since the departure of Silver Springs Creamery in late summer. So come celebrate the return of milk to your Ballard Farmers Market, and get to know your local dairy farmer!

Roy Nettlebeck, owner of Tahuya River Apiaries, has something sweet to smile about -- honey! Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Roy Nettlebeck, owner of Tahuya River Apiaries, has something sweet to smile about — honey! Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

2012 was a rough year for beekeeper Roy Nettlebeck of Tahuya River Apiaries. Seemingly insulated for many years from the worldwide collapse of bee populations, his hives suffered last year both from high mortality rates as well as historic snows in the Olympic Mountains, and we have suffered Roy’s absence from your Ballard Farmers Market for the entire 2012 season. His bees, which work the steep eastern slopes of the Olympics, pollinating wildflowers and making honey from their nectar, did process a small amount of wildflower honey in 2012, however, and Roy is in the Market today with what he’s got. Don’t expect these big jars, though. He only has small jars of his honey today, as he wants to spread it around to as many people as possible. Stop by and pick up some of this Olympic gold, and enjoy a natural bit of the sweet life!

Jerry Stokesberry of Stokesberry Sustainable Farm holding one of his delicious chickens. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Jerry Stokesberry of Stokesberry Sustainable Farm holding one of his delicious chickens. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Jerry Stokesberry — namesake of Stokesberry Sustainable Farm — can’t help but smile about his delicious chickens, and neither will you. These birds are unlike any chicken you’ve ever had from a Big Box store. Indeed, once you’ve had one of these, you won’t even recognize what sold in the Big Box stores as chicken anymore. The Stokesberrys sell their chickens fresh and frozen, though both sell out quickly each week. And occasionally, they offer up stewing hens, too. I made the most amazing chicken soup with one of these recently. I ate it every night for a week!

Will Lockmiller of Sno-Valley Mushrooms explaining the process to our own Gil Youenes. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Will Lockmiller of Sno-Valley Mushrooms explaining the process to our own Gil Youenes. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Another of our new farm additions to your Ballard Farmers Market this winter is Sno-Valley Mushrooms. They are cultivating shiitakelion’s mane and blue oyster mushrooms in their state-of-the-art facility in Duvall. Back in mid-December, our own Gil Youenes and I got to tour their farm, learning a lot about mushroom growing in the process. Here, Sno-Valley’s Will Lockmiller explains to Gil about how their inoculated straw blocks are made, and how they will soon produce many beautiful shiitakes.

Jessie Hopkins from Colinwood Farms sits atop the farm's antique, horse-draw potato planter. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Jessie Hopkins from Colinwood Farms sits atop the farm’s antique, horse-draw potato planter. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It may be January, but it’s peak season at Colinwood Farms in Port Townsend. See, they’ve learned to magnify the natural climatic advantage they enjoy being located in Washington’s Banana Belt, in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, and the incredibly rich, fertile soil on their farm, with a series of large greenhouses that help them grow salad greens, and other temperature-sensitive deliciousness, all winter long. And I just love this photo I captured of the farm’s Jessie Hopkins on their antique potato planter a few years back.

Nash's Kia Armstrong and Wynn Weinreb of Jerzy Boyz. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Nash’s Kia Armstrong and Wynne Weinreb of Jerzy Boyz. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I know I am thin on photos of delicious food this week, but I decided it was as good a week as any to focus instead on our delicious vendors, like Kia Armstrong from Nash’s Organic Produce, and Wynne Weinreb from Jerzy Boyz — two more farms that rock it at your Ballard Farmers Market all winter long. Sure, Nash’s has plenty of Brussels sprouts, kale, rutabagas and cabbages this time of year, and Jerzy Boyz is rich with amazing, heirloom apples and pears, but when it comes right down to it, what truly makes our little farmers market wealthy is our wonderful sense of family, as can be seen on the faces of these two taking a break together. And don’t you come here for this, as well? I mean, yes, you will not find any better food anywhere — certainly not at the Big Box stores — but you also get a good dose of community here. You meet the people who produce the food that nourishes your body and fills your soul, and you meet your neighbors. Here is one place where you are not treated like a number — like a “consumer”. Here, we are people. Enjoy it. And then take that feeling with you throughout the rest of your week.

Clayton Burrows of Alm Hill Gardens (a.k.a., Growing Washington) talks farmers markets with Senator Maria Cantwell. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Clayton Burrows of Alm Hill Gardens (a.k.a., Growing Washington) talks farmers markets with Senator Maria Cantwell. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Clayton Burrows of Alm Hill Gardens (a.k.a., Growing Washington) has never been one known to mind his manners and keep his yap shut. Like so many of the amazing farmers with whom we are blessed here at your Ballard Farmers Market, he not only grows great food for us, but he is a tireless activist to help make our food system, our communities and our world better for all of us. So needless to say (though by now, you’ve figured out I’m gonna say it anyway), when U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell visited your Ballard Farmers Market this past summer, Clayton availed himself of the opportunity to do a little educating and community building with her — and those Alm Hill berries she’s enjoying didn’t hurt a bit, either. Alm Hill is another one of our anchor, year-round farms here at your Ballard Farmers Market, and right now, they’ve actually got fresh-cut tulips already, as well as some great farm-fresh eggs, too.

Jim Page performing at Ballard Farmers Market. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Jim Page performing at Ballard Farmers Market. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Of course, not all of our Market characters are farmers, but what would be the point of eating anyway, if we didn’t have music to fill our souls, too? Week in and week out, we are blessed with an incredibly talented pool of buskers who perform for us at your Ballard Farmers Market — folks like world-renowned folk singer Jim Page, who can be found most Sundays, when he’s not touring, playing his powerful music for us right here. We don’t pay any of these performers. That’s up to you. If you like them, or even if you just appreciate them for doing what they do, toss a little cash into their instrument case, hat or jar, and maybe purchase a CD, a poem, a painting or a balloon animal. Supporting your local street performers adds just as much to the beautiful, vibrant community of Ballard we call home as supporting your local farmers, fishers, ranchers, food artisans and artists at your Ballard Farmers Market, and all the locally-owned shops, bars, eateries and other businesses that line historic Ballard Avenue. And buying a CD directly from a musician, instead of at a store, means that musician gets almost all of the purchase price, inside of mere pennies per unit.

Please remember bring your own bags every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Sunday, April 11th: We’ll Miss You, Arlene.

April 11, 2010

I didn't realize how effectively camera shy Anselmo's Arlene Dabrusca was with me until I tried to find a file photo of her amongst the thousands I've taken at Ballard Farmers Market over the last five years. And while you can't actually see her face in this one, it is representative of what she stood for at Ballard Farmers Market. Here, Arlene has her face buried in the chest of her daughter, Marie, on a very cold November day in 2005, back when the Market still used to retreat into that little lot off Ballard Avenue, before we were on the street year-round. (Moshi Moshi now sits where that lot used to be.) You see, Arlene showed up every Sunday that Ballard Farmers Market has existed, regardless of the weather, until just recently. So while she may have been hiding from the camera, or protecting herself from the cold, still she was there, always. Photo copyright 2005, 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is with profound sadness that I must tell you of the passing of Arlene Dabrusca of Anselmos, one of Ballard Farmers Market’s founding farms. Arlene died suddenly Saturday, after successfully undergoing treatment for cancer over the past several months.

Arlene, with partner Chuck Long, started Anselmos in 1998. Arlene had been a nurse, her daughter, Marie, worked in the health insurance industry, and Chuck was an auto mechanic. Chuck wanted to grow organic vegetables, so they got a 4-acre patch of dirt in Mukilteo. They originally sold at Fremont Sunday Market, as well as several other markets. They followed Market Master Judy Kirkhuff to the U.S. Bank parking lot in Ballard (where the library is now) in August 2000, when redevelopment in Fremont forced the Fremont Sunday Market to move to a location that hurt farmer sales.

During the first winter in Ballard — the winter of 2000-2001 — Arlene faithfully represented Anselmos in the U.S. Bank parking lot every Sunday without fail. In fact, for almost all of that winter, Arlene and Marie were the only farmers at the market. “We would give people bags through their car windows in the rain,” Arlene told me some time back. “It was a drive-up market!” Indeed, says Judy, Arlene was a trooper through rain and snow and cold to provide service to her loyal customers. And her customers were loyal. “One loyal Market friend, Jason, would hang with us, make us feel safe, and then help us break down” Arlene told me.

In 2001, Anselmos moved to a 28-acre parcel in Machias, in Snohomish County, where they began cultivating 10-12 acres, and where they produced greens all winter in their 90′ x 20′ greenhouse. By the winter of 2001-2002, they had been joined by five other vendors in a little off of Ballard Avenue (where Moshi Moshi resides now) after the Market moved to Ballard Avenue in late 2001. Anselmos eventually stopped selling at any other farmers markets because of the support they had in Ballard.

“The customers we got when we were alone in the U.S. Bank lot still buy from us today,” Arlene told me in early 2009. “We love the folks in Ballard.” And Ballard loved her back.

We truly owe a debt of gratitude to Arlene. Without her commitment to Ballard Farmers Market and the people of Ballard, we might not have seen to creation of the first year-round farmers market in Seattle, which has, in turn, inspired other markets to operate year-round. One farmer, standing alone in cold winter rain forged a path for what we know today as this amazing weekly event called that Ballard Farmers Market that, during March, drew more than 9,000 people per week to a neighborhood that once was a ghost town on Sundays. Arlene, thank you. You will be missed.

Arlene had some medical coverage from Medicare, but it was insufficient. As a result, Arlene’s family is left behind not only with their grief, but with thousands in unresolved medical expenses. There are two things you can do to help. First, you can make a donation to a fund to help her family retire her medical debt at the Ballard Farmers Market Information table at the Vernon Place end of the Market.

Second, you can continue to fight for real health care reform. Do it for Arlene. Do it for the other farmers you see every week at the Market, and for the artists and buskers, most of whom also live without health insurance. These are the people who feed our bodies and nourish our souls, and it is unforgivable that in a country as rich as ours that we would turn our backs on these people just because they are not part of some major corporation that has a health plan. You love Ballard Farmers Market for these people because they are independent. Why shouldn’t they be covered by the same kind of health care system found in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and just about every country in Europe? Be sad today for the loss of our dear friend, Arlene. Then wake up tomorrow mad as hell and see to it some real change takes place.

Anthony Estrella shows off some Jalapeno Buttery cheese from Estrella Family Creamery. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I am not going to spend much time speaking of other vendors today, but one in particular requires mentioning. Estrella Family Creamery returns to Ballard Farmers Market today after a long absence. The Estrellas have been suffering from a different kind of hardship in recent months, though they would be the first to tell you that it pales in comparison to the lose of a loved one. Still, earlier this year, health officials discovered that one of their three cheese-aging caves had become contaminated with listeria, a dangerous food-borne pathogen. While no illnesses have ever been reported as result, the Estrellas still recalled several cheeses and destroyed tens of thousands of dollars in product. Then, they had to completely strip clean, sanitize and rebuild the cave in question and start over from scratch making the cheeses housed in that cave. Just to put this in perspective, the minimum time any one of Estrella’s cheese is required by law to be aged is 60 days. They age many of them longer. And, of course, they lost weeks of sales, too. While they will be back at Ballard today, it will be with an inventory limited to their two remaining caves, which both tested clean. That said, do buy their cheese today and welcome them back. The best thing you can do to help the Estrellas get back on their feet making some of the world’s best cheeses (and they have the awards to prove it) is to buy it from them now, and to share with them some love.

And remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for  your kitchen, from meat, seafood, poultry, cheese, to all sorts of fruits and veggies, baked goods, sauces, confections, fresh-cut flowers and fresh milled flours, plants for the garden, wild mushrooms, and on and on. For a fuller accounting of what you’ll find at the Market today, go to “What’s Fresh Now!” in the upper right-hand corner.

Happy Solstice! Forecast: No Snow!

June 21, 2009

December 21st, 2008 -- the Winter Solstice -- and Ballard Farmers Market was open in the snow. Photo copyright 2008 by Jon Hegeman.

December 21st, 2008 -- the Winter Solstice -- and Ballard Farmers Market was open in the snow. Photo copyright 2008 by Jon Hegeman.

It is Summer Solstice at Ballard Farmers Market, yet it feels like it has been summer for a month already. 29 straight days without measurable rain, and then the skies open up this past Friday, and you’d think we had revisited the Johnstown flood or biblical times to listen to some people whinge and whine about it. But we Ballard Farmers Market types are a hardier lot, and just to remind you all how tough we are, we thought we’d take a little trip down memory lane with you, back six months to our last solstice, the Winter Solstice of December 2008.

On the Winter Solstice last year, skis were as good a mode of transportation as any. Photo copyright 2008 by Jon Hegeman.

On the Winter Solstice last year, skis were as good a mode of transportation as any. Photo copyright 2008 by Jon Hegeman.

For those of you who have not yet gotten the message, and we know you’re out there, Ballard Farmers Market is open year-round, every Sunday, rain, sleet or snow. We are more reliable than the Post Office. So when it snowed six inches over Saturday night last December 20th, we were not intimidated.  Nope, with 19 vendors and 1,300 shoppers, we set up in the snow on Ballard Avenue, and we had a market. We knew you all were counting on us for your holiday meals and last minute gifts. Indeed, all of us count on our farmers to feed us all year, and they do not disappoint us, even when it snows. So maybe, as you say a little Solstice prayer to whatever deity you look to for guidance, you can give a little thanks for the wonderful farmers who keep us all going here in the Big City.

Market shoppers came by whatever means they could, including toboggan. Photo copyright 2008 by Jon Hegeman.

Market shoppers came by whatever means they could, including toboggan. Photo copyright 2008 by Jon Hegeman.

Market faithful came anyway they could last December, including on foot, on skis, and even on toboggans. And honestly, it made us all feel very special to know how much you all know you can depend on us to bring you your Market every Sunday. Thank you.

Doing a brisk business at the Ballard Farmers Market took on a whole new meaning on December 21, 2008. Photo copyright 2008 by Jon Hegeman.

Doing a brisk business at the Ballard Farmers Market took on a whole new meaning on December 21, 2008. Photo copyright 2008 by Jon Hegeman.

And thank you, Jon Hegeman, the founder of our market organizing group, for supplying these great photos to remind us of colder days, so that we might revel in our toughness while we savor the next three months of summer. So Happy Summer Solstice everyone, and Happy Father’s Day, Jon.

Sunshine & Green Things

March 31, 2009

 

Bright blue skies and brilliant sunshine welcomed, if it did not confuse, thousands of happy shoppers on Sunday, March 29th at the Ballard Farmers Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bright blue skies and brilliant sunshine welcomed, if it did not confuse, thousands of happy shoppers on Sunday, March 29th at the Ballard Farmers Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Just in case you spent the whole day in bed, or maybe in the Washington Trade & Convention Center at the Seattle Green Festival, you missed a beautifully sunny, if not brisk, afternoon at the Ballard Farmers Market on this last market of March.

 

A table of greens from Stoney Plains gives us hope that spring will soon be here for real. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

A table of greens from Stoney Plains gives us hope that spring will soon be here for real. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Some vendors even had, gasp, green things on their tables this week, suggesting that, in spite of the fact it snowed a few inches at several vendors farms and houses overnight, spring may well be on its way. Foraged & Found Edibles brought the first fiddlehead ferns of the season, and Stoney Plains had an entire table of green things, from kale to herbs to Brussels sprouts and more, not to mention the flat of strawberry starts. Can you just smell those Washington strawberries now? Meanwhile, shoppers stacked up like cordwood to scoop up some Nash’s dwindling supply of winter roots.

 

Crowds battle their way into Nash's stall to gather up the farm's delicious winter roots, made all the more sweet by the cold weather. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Crowds battle their way into Nash's stall to gather up the farm's delicious winter roots, made all the more sweet by the cold weather. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,134 other followers