Sunday, April 17th: More Spring Goodies & Tales From The Worst “Farmers Markets” I’ve Ever Seen!


Fresh flowers from Pa Gardens. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I just got back from a trip to Florida. While there, I visited three so-called “farmers markets” — in Sarasota, Siesta Key and Miami. What I saw there dumbfounded me. Or should I say, what I didn’t see. I didn’t see any farmers. Not a one. I mean, for the love of Mike, Florida is the #2 producer of fresh produce — fruits and vegetables — in the U.S., behind California. You’d think they could scrounge up the odd orange or tomato grower to attend their farmers markets, you know? Nope. I have heard tales that there are some “farmers markets” in Florida with actual farmers, but even at these rare markets, most of the vendors are crafters and prepared food vendors, with some processors, and then a produce reseller or three. Here in Washington, the #3 state for production of fresh produce, even our worst farmers markets are better than Florida’s best, as best as I can tell. Heck, I even visited a market at a hospital in Miami — more like a mobile food court, if you ask me. I thought the purpose of having farmers markets at hospitals was to encourage healthy eating by eating local fruits and vegetable, not to offer a once-a-week lunch alternative for hospital workers and patients. I thought I’d share this with you, just to remind you we have something pretty darned special going on here at Washington’s #1 farmers market, your Ballard Farmers Market. Let us never take it for granted.

Miners lettuce from Stoney Plains. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hey, it really is spring, again, in spite of the weather. My Italian prune tree is in spectacular full bloom. My lawn needs mowing. And Stoney Plains has miner’s lettuce! This is a truly native crop to the Northwest, and it can be found growing widely in the wild, but this (above) is the cultivated type. It is tasty and nutritious. I love it simply tossed with pine nuts, olive oil, some sea salt and a little lemon juice. Learn more about miner’s lettuce on our “What Is It?” post.

Sweet potatoes from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sweet potatoes from Lyall Farms are another powerhouse of goodness and deliciousness, and you’ll find them for a while longer at your Ballard Farmers Market, and nowhere else. In fact, these are the only locally grown sweet potatoes you will find anywhere in metro-Seattle.

Saffron tagliatelle from Pasteria Lucchese. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Not many people can tell you where their saffron is from, but Pasteria Lucchese can. The saffron in their new saffron pastas comes from Phocas Farms in Port Angeles, Washington. Indeed, you can get the very same saffron, direct from the farmer, right here at your Ballard Farmers Market. But if you want this pasta, get here early, as Sam & Sara sell out of it fast!

Wild morel mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wild morel mushrooms are back, though their supply can be limited this early in the season, especially with it still snowing at low elevations. Check in with Foraged & Found Edibles early today if you want any. And if they’re out, never fear. More will be coming!

Kale raab from Nashs Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s raab season, folks! Yup, the season when all the over-wintered kales and collards and such want to bolt to flowers. And these bud-covered tender shoots are a sweet delicacy of early spring. Check out Nash’s Organic Produce to see what tasty vegetable flowers they have for you today!

Cupcake Luvs "Luvlys" being adorable. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Seriously, how many bakers can tell you what farms their flour came from? Well, Cupcake Luv can! Maybe that is why this little girl so adores these Cupcake Luv “Luvlys” — their cupcake miniatures made with flour from the Shepherd’s Grain farmer cooperative of Southeastern Washington. And that reminds me of one more thing about the three “farmers markets” I visited in Florida — the one thing all three markets have in common with our farmers market: Washington apples. Ha!

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. But please note that due to our recent cold weather, some crops may not be available as anticipated.

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2 Responses to “Sunday, April 17th: More Spring Goodies & Tales From The Worst “Farmers Markets” I’ve Ever Seen!”

  1. Zachary D. Lyons Says:

    Oddly enough, the one recent link I could find that lists the top five specialty crops states is from some other state. Those of us in the biz get this info usually from USDA or the Washington State Department of Agriculture, but for whatever reason, it ain’t easy to find on the net.

  2. Elaine Says:

    That’s really interesting that Washington is the #3 state for production of fresh produce. Do you happen to have a source for that info, or better yet a link? Definitely something to be proud of! Thanks.

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