Sunday, May 29th: Farewell To Anselmo’s, Our Founding Farm.

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Chuck Long of Anselmo's Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is the end of an era at your Ballard Farmers Market. On Friday, May 20th, we lost our friend and farmer, Chuck Long, of Anselmo’s Farm after a lengthy illness. Chuck, with his partner Arlene Debrusca, who we lost just over one year ago, started Anselmo’s 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 — for almost all of that winter, Anselmo’s was the only farm at the market. Indeed, says Judy, Arlene was a trooper through rain and snow and cold to provide service to her loyal customers.

Daughter Marie Debrusca hugging her mom, Arlene, for warmth (and because Arlene liked to hide from my camera) back in November 2005, when we still set up the winter market in the lot on Ballard Avenue where Moshi Moshi stands today. Photo copyright 2005, 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

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 lot 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 them back.

Lilacs from Alm Hill Gardens in season now. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We truly owe a debt of gratitude to Anselmo’s. Without its commitment to Ballard Farmers Market and the people of Ballard, we might not have seen the creation of the first year-round farmers market in Seattle, which has, in turn, inspired other markets to operate year-round. One farm, standing alone in cold winter rain, forged a path for what we know today as this amazing weekly event called the Ballard Farmers Market that draws more than 9,000 people per week to a neighborhood bustling with new storefronts and eateries that once was a ghost town on Sundays. Sunday, May 22nd marked the last day Anselmo’s would sell at your Ballard Farmers Market. Arlene & Chuck, and the entire Anselmo’s clan, thank you. You will be missed.

Michaele Blakely of Growing Things showing off her prized eggs. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Michaele Blakely and Growing Things Farm, another very familiar farm to Ballard Farmers Market faithful, will be moving to the corner stall at the 22nd Ave NW end of the Market to occupy the longtime space of Anselmo’s. Indeed, folks who have been patronizing the Market’s farms all the way back when they still were part of the Fremont Sunday Market may recall that Michaele was the first manager of the farmers market, before Judy took over from her not long before the move to Ballard. Perhaps the single most diversified farm in our Market, Growing Things offers everything — and I do mean everything — from fresh produce to amazing eggs to chickens my family eats for Thanksgiving to plants to soap made from the lard and tallow of the farm’s own cattle and pigs to the pork and beef from those animals to jams… the list seems endless. (And so does the paperwork Michaele has to fill out with the State because she produces farm products in so many different categories.)

Baby red butterhead lettuce from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Oxbow Farm, also with your Ballard Farmers Market for many years, will still be found back-to-back with Wilson Fish mid-market. This week, they’ve got some beautiful baby lettuces, like this red butterhead lettuce, as well as some amazing collard greens, dino kale, pea vines and other braising greens, and lots of tomato plants.

Fresh, brilliant red king salmon from Wilson Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of Wilson Fish, they’ve got some incredible fresh king salmon today, including the first white and marbled king of the season. And did you know that marbled king salmon is unique to the north Washington and south British Columbia coasts? You won’t see it coming from Alaska! Wilson will have some true and ling cod, halibut, rockfish, and freshly smoked king today, too, all just in time for your Memorial Day barbecues and picnics!

Spring garlic from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I love spring garlic from Alvarez Organic Farms. It is fresh, sweet and mild compared to cured garlic. You can use all of it, even the hairy roots, though you should compost the dirt-hugging bit where the roots hit the bulb. But you can simply cut it up without peeling it, stalk and all, and toss it in with your asparagus and morel mushroom roast, your sautéed greens, or grill them whole alongside your salmon.

Morel mushrooms, finally, from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Few things have come to symbolize just how late our growing seasons are this year than the mighty morel mushroom. Between the cold, the record snow pack, and the fact that that snow pack persists at low elevations, morels have been especially slow to emerge this year. Well, finally, Foraged & Found Edibles has some. Finally.

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.

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2 Responses to “Sunday, May 29th: Farewell To Anselmo’s, Our Founding Farm.”

  1. Vik Nair Says:

    I knew Arlene and Chuck since they first began selling at Fremont Market. Both of them including Marie became good friends of mine. I will sure miss them.

  2. Beth Nowak Says:

    I stop by the Ballard Farmers Market when I visit the West Coast to see my family each winter. My husband and I farm and sell year round in Winchester, VA. Although I do not know the Anselmos, I want to express my sincere respect and appreciation for anyone who does this through everything the weather throws at us. Please pass along my condolences to the family.

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