Happy 2010 all y’all! Since I don’t have any photos of your Ballard Farmers Market with fireworks going off, I thought I’d recycle this photo of the Market with a fire truck, instead. Kinda festive, don’t you think? Ooh, and look at those lovely, green spring leaves on the trees. Soon, people. Soon. But this photo kinds reminds me of all the fun we had at the Market in 2009. Sure, I could be like so many folks I’ve heard lately droning on about what a terrible year 2009 was, but you can get that from every other blog, talk show and newscast right now without me adding to it. Frankly, there was quite a lot I liked about 2009, and much of it I encountered right here in beautiful historic Ballard at your Ballard Farmers Market.
We are blessed at Ballard Farmers Market with a wealth of artistic talent in the form of our many buskers who perform here every Sunday. The Market has become second only to Pike Place Market for street performers, and I recall several Sundays in 2009 when we easily hosted more buskers than Pike Place every would. It is part of the many facets that make Ballard Farmers Market so special. And I love the fact that during several weeks during 2009, MoZo, the lovely and entertaining ladies pictured above, actually were in the top five search terms that brought people from around the interweb to this very blog. Just goes to show you that the Market is about much more than just the great vendors selling stuff. It is about our entire community.
We also watched Ballard Avenue grow along with the Market in 2009, with the addition of several new businesses, like Bastille (above), Moshi Moshi and Fresh Flours, and with many more of our neighboring businesses opening up on Sundays to serve the many Market faithful who would fill the neighborhood.
Speaking of loyal Ballard Farmers Market fans filling the street, 2009 set new records for Market attendance at a time when so many big box retailers were fretting over sluggish foot traffic in their malls. What those big box boys and girls don’t seem to understand, or are incapable of grasping, is that Ballard Farmers Market faithful value quality, relationships and supporting their neighbors and their local economy more than they do buying cheap, mass-produced garbage from China. Our Market community understands that when they invest their dollars in purchasing delicious and beautiful locally-made goods straight from the producer, they are helping to ensure the future of their own jobs, because they are supporting living wage jobs and keeping their dollars recirculating in the local economy. It’s no wonder so many Market shoppers spend as much at our neighbors storefront businesses here on Ballard Avenue each Sunday as they do in the Market itself.
We must celebrate some of the amazing new stuff at the Market in 2009, like these sweet potatoes from Lyall Farms. You know, when Alan Scott first pointed out to me the rows of young sweet potato seedlings on their farm in Sunnyside back in June, I was very excited. I had never seen sweet potatoes brought to a farmers market in Western Washington in my almost 20 years of working with markets, and I had only seen them a couple of times in Eastern Washington. The thought that we could have local sweet potatoes are our Market later in the year was wonderful to me, and we know based on how many sweet potatoes Lyall Farms, as well as Alm Hill Gardens, sold in the fall of 2009 that many of you Market faithful were thrilled to get your hands on them, too.
Nash’s Organic Produce introduced us first to locally-grown whole grains from the Olympic Peninsula in early 2009, and then they brought us freshly milled flours — hard red and soft white wheat flours — by the time the holidays came around. 10 years ago, when I was Executive Director of the Washington State Farmers Market Association, I scheduled our board retreat to be held in Waterville, Washington, a small, historic city on US-2, just east of the Columbia River, that is literally surrounded by wheat fields. I wanted the WSFMA board to be fully conscious of their mission — to serve all the farmers of Washington state — so that someday in the future we would have local grain products at our farmers markets. To see farms like Nash’s and Bluebird bringing grain products to Ballard Farmers Market in 2009 is very rewarding to me indeed.
And I know many of you missed your shellfish fix for New Year’s Eve this past week, and while I am not so much waxing poetic about 2009 and Taylor Shellfish Farms right now, I do want to assure you that Oyster Bill is back today to satisfy all your slimy mollusk needs. So come on down and celebrate the new year with some oysters and clams… and the rest of us. Just don’t get hung up trashing 2009. We can make 2010 better than 2009 without the need to knock 2009 so far down as to make it impossible for 2010 not to be better. Let’s set our expectations high, eh?
And remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for your kitchen. 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.