Sunday, April 25th: Billy’s, Bluebird, Magana & Sequim Prairie Star Return; A Visit To OlyPen Farms.


Whole grains from Bluebird Grain Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bluebird Grain Farms returns to your Ballard Farmers Market today with their renowned, organic, heirloom grains and grain products. Bluebird’s emmer/farro is prized by top chefs up and down the West Coast who say it is as good or better than any they can get from Italy. And their fresh-milled flours, cereals and mixes are delicious and nutrient dense. Why get a bag of flour at the Big Box Store that was milled who knows when? Bluebird can tell you exactly when their flour was milled — usually in the past week or two.

Asparagus from Magana Farms. Photo copyright 2008 by Zachary D. Lyons

Magana Farms from Sunnyside, Washington makes its 2010 season debut today with fresh asparagus. And in short order, they will have sweet onions. Billy’s Organic Produce from Tonasket, Washington is back at your Ballard Farmers Market today, too.

Sequim Prairie Star Enterprises worm tea. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sequim Prairie Star is one of eight Ballard vendors I visited this past week on the Northern Olympic Peninsula. With gardening season upon us, it is good to have them back at your Ballard Farmers Market. They have a variety of worm compost products to help your plants thrive, and their vegetable starts are as healthy as they get. Visiting their little farm, I now understand where they get their name. They are located on a windswept bit of prairie on the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Sequim, where they enjoy spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains, and some of the best star gazing imaginable. And because they are under the “Blue Hole” caused by the rain shadow of the Olympics, they receive much more sun, and much less rain, than most places in the U.S., making it a pretty perfect place to operate a couple of greenhouses and a healthy composting operation. Plus, the prairie grasses around them make for great worm food.

A crew at Nash's Organic Produce harvests green garlic and leeks for Ballard Farmers Market. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Another farm I visited this week was Nash’s Organic Produce. Nash’s is singlehandedly keeping hundreds of acres of prime agricultural lands in service in Clallam County, sparing it from developers. Nash’s grows a broad selection of fruits, vegetables, grains, flowers, livestock and more on almost 400 acres of land spread across more than a half dozen farms. Situated in Dungeness, a little town just north of Sequim on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Nash’s cultivates some of the richest soils found anywhere. Which perhaps makes that fact that Colinwood Farms in Port Townsend has even richer soil almost impossible to comprehend.

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

Colinwood Farms soil is so fertile, it is almost black. And they take full advantage of their position in the Olympic rain shadow, harvesting beautiful, tender salad greens and mustards all winter long from their greenhouses when such crops wouldn’t have a prayer of surviving in other parts of the state. Their network of large greenhouses also gives them a head start getting crops out into the fields in the spring when the soil warms up, and then they serve to raise tomatoes and peppers all summer long in their preferred hot, balmy conditions.

Purple sprouting broccoli from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Oxbow Farm returned to Ballard Farmers Market last Sunday. Luke told me months ago, “We will return when we have tomato plants and purple sprouting broccoli.” Well, here is the photographic evidence that he was good for his word. (Okay, wisenheimers, I do have a separate photo of the tomato plants, so back off!)

Local vinegars from Rockridge Orchards. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is our mission here at Ballard Farmers Market to find farmers and food artisans to bring you as close to everything you might ever need in your kitchen as is possible in our climate, so that you really will have no excuse to have to go to the Big Box Store to buy stuff they have hauled in from who knows how far way. And that includes vinegar. Yep, vinegar. Rockridge Orchards produces four different flavors of apple cider vinegar. This stuff is used by many of Seattle’s best chefs. Pick some up today, and add one more product in your pantry to your “locally produced” list.

Fresh beef, left, and pork from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

The bottom line is, I think good meat is beautiful. Don’t you? I mean, just look at this display of gorgeous, fresh beef and pork in Sea Breeze Farm’s refer case. And it eats as good as it looks.

Dogs chews from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Every time Olsen Farms processes a beef, it produces a small amount of smoked beef tendon dog chews that will please your favorite pooch for hours. But they go fast, and then you have to wait weeks for the next bunch. Olsen humanely raises its livestock. But it will be you who is guilty of animal cruelty if you deprive Fido of these yummy treats.

Jim Robinson of Phocas Farms shows how his saffron crocuses have multiplied over the winter. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It bears repeating: Phocas Farms grows saffron in Port Angeles. Above, Jim Robinson shows how they just keep multiplying and multiplying. And he will separate out the bulbs and expand his acreage of them. Now, some folks figure saffron would be harvested this time of year, because this is when crocuses bloom. Not all crocuses, however. Saffron crocuses bloom in the fall. I visited Jim at Phocas Farms this past week, and I learned that what you see in the photo above is the saffron crocus at the end of its annual growth cycle. Its leaves are beginning to yellow in preparation for its summer slumber. Jim harvests thousands of tiny saffron threads for weeks every fall, and he spends much of the spring and summer separating the new bulbs and expanding his crop. Stop by and pick up a packet of saffron from Jim today, and find out why it is favored by the chefs at The Herbfarm, Art of the Table and Elliott Bay Cafe.

Hot Cakes cakes in bags and jars. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I found myself wondering what kind of music video Justin Timberlake would make about Hot Cakes’ Cake In A Bag. I just cannot look at Autumn Martin’s latest creation of deliciousness without that SNL sketch (you know the one I’m talking about) rattling around in my brain. But hey, that was perhaps the funniest SNL sketch in years, right? And this is perhaps the tastiest little cake you will ever bring home. So I suppose it fits. (If you’ll pardon the expression.)

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.

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2 Responses to “Sunday, April 25th: Billy’s, Bluebird, Magana & Sequim Prairie Star Return; A Visit To OlyPen Farms.”

  1. Zachary D. Lyons Says:

    Hi Barbra, I’m sorry to say but as far as we know, these folks have retired. The post you found was from April 2010, and they have not been at our market for more than two years.

  2. barbra boiser Says:

    does prairie star enterprises have a website or email address?
    barbra boiser

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