Wednesday, March 11th: Oysters, Holiday Hams and Spring Flowers! Yeah, Spring is Coming!!!

March 11, 2015 by

Oysters on the half-shell, on the beach at Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo courtesy Hama Hama Oyster Company.

Did you miss oysters at your Ballard Farmers Market this past Sunday? Welcome back Hama Hama Oyster Company after their little hiatus last week.  This family business has been farming oysters since 1922, and they provide some of the finest, sweetest oysters you will find anywhere. Plus, they pickle them and they smoke them. Yes, today is a happy day indeed. Oysters are back, baby!

 

A holiday ham from Skagit River Ranch. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s time to order that ham for Easter Sunday. Can you believe that Easter will be here in only three weeks? Time does fly!  Stop by Skagit River Ranch, Olsen Farms, Sea Breeze Farm or Samish Bay Cheese to place your order.  They’ve got them on sale right now, and getting an order in to your favorite grower is the best way to assure you have one ready to go when April 4th comes around.  You know these are some of the best hams you can find anywhere, so don’t miss your chance.

KaYing, The Old Farmer, arranging one of her beautiful bouquets of flowers. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now, it may be early but it sure looks like spring!  Alm Hill Garden tulips and all of our favorite Hmong farmers with their variety of spectacular flowers have returned to Ballard Farmers Market. Welcome them all back and pick out one of their fabulous bouquets to brighten your day, or the day of someone special.

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market.   Plan on visiting the goodness this coming Sunday.

Sunday, March 8th: Just A Few Of My Favorite Product Photos & My Farewell!

March 7, 2015 by
A heart-shaped tomato from Around The Table Farm at Wallingford Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

A heart-shaped tomato from Around The Table Farm at Wallingford Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to combine my three passions into one gig over the last eight years. I managed to find a job in which I got to help develop our local food system while at the same time writing about it and photographing it. What a blessing! I have been working with farmers markets since 1991, and I have served on the board of Seattle Chefs Collaborative since 1999. I also served as executive director of Washington State Farmers Market Association from 1999-2005, and in 2006, I co-authored the Washington State Farmers Market Manual for Washington State University. I have loved all this work, and I am proud of all we’ve accomplish here, leading the nation in local food. So even though I am leaving my farmers market job after today, I will still be around.

For this last official regular blog post for your Ballard Farmers Market, I’d like to revisit with you some of my favorite photos from over the years. Like the one above, taken at Wallingford Farmers Market last summer. This naturally-occuring heart-shaped tomato was grown by Poulsbo’s Around The Table Farm. Yet one more reason to love vine-ripened, farm-fresh tomatoes over homogenous, boring tomatoes from the Big Box stores, if you really needed another reason.

An explosion of carrots from Gaia's Natural Goods. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

An explosion of carrots from Gaia’s Natural Goods. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

While the previous photo was copied all over the intertubes, it is this photo that actually circled the globe. Yes, this is my single-most plagerized photo ever, and I say that with pride (and a little bit of annoyance — please don’t republish photos without permission or giving credit!). I took this photo of baby rainbow carrots that look like an exploding firework not long before Independence Day in 2012. These carrots were grown by Gaia’s Harmony Farm in Snohomish. I published this photo across all of our markets’ blogs and Facebook pages for the 4th that year, and it just spread across the interwebs from there. Imagine how far it would have travelled had a vision of the Virgin Mother be visible in it?

Fresh sausages from Sea Breeze Farmat Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh sausages from Sea Breeze Farmat Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

I’ve taken a lot of nice photos of Sea Breeze Farm’s meats over the years, but I’ve always liked this one of their sausages best. The sausages are all uniform in size and stacked perfectly, highlighted by the wooden butcher block below them. But what sets them off is that they are three such distinctly different colors. Kinda makes you want some right now, doesn’t it? And that is what makes this photo so special.

Rutabagas from Boistfort Valley Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Rutabagas from Boistfort Valley Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Rutabagas are one of my favorite vegetables. I must owe that to my Irish heritage. My family eats them every Thanksgiving. Indeed, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them. Then my Aunt Joyce taught me to add them to the corned beef pot on St. Paddy’s Day. (You need to add them 15-30 minutes before your potatoes, as they’re much denser.) They absorb all the flavors of the spices and meat. Nummers. I’ve also always found rutabagas to be quite beautiful, with their deep yellows and purples. And of all my lovely photos of rutabagas — indeed, of all the thousands of images I’ve taken of markets over the years — this one of rutabagas from Boistfort Valley Farm, spread out randomly in a wooden farm box, is one of my absolute favorites.

Framed cabbage from Full Circle Farm at Wallingford Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Framed cabbage from Full Circle Farm at Wallingford Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

This wonderful photo of symmetrically-arranged cabbages in a wooden box was taken back in 2010. They are from one of the gorgeous displays that Big Dave used to erect for Full Circle Farm at Wallingford Farmers Market. The image quality suffers a bit from my old camera’s inferior technology, but the image is still nice, don’t you think?

Chicories from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Chicories from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One Leaf Farm is known for growing lots of deliciously bitter members of the chicory family. They are quite beautiful, too, and in 2012, I managed to capture this image of escarole, treviso radicchio and Palla Rosa radicchio here at your Ballard Farmers Market. This image is now used on One Leaf’s own website, which pleases me every time I visit it.

Romanesco from Full Circle Farm at Madrona Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Romanesco from Full Circle Farm at Madrona Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Another of the most stunning vegetables — one that magically grows in perfect fractals — is this romanesco, a member of the cauliflower family. And my favorite photo is of this romanesco from Full Circle Farm at Madrona Farmers Market back in 2011. This photos has served as the cover photo for Madrona’s Facebook page ever since.

Chinese spinach from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Chinese spinach from Children’s Garden. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

But for my money, the most beautiful vegetable of all is this Chinese spinach. With its purple and green leaves, it is just flat-out stunning. Only two farms bring it to your Ballard Farmers Market each summer: Mee Garden and Children’s Garden. This image is of some from Children’s Garden from 2011. And in fact, before I published this photo and waxed poetic about the virtues of this gorgeous leafy green, these two farms were hard-pressed to sell any of it. Now, they can’t harvest enough of it. And for that, I love you, good people of Ballard Farmers Market! You are willing to be adventurous in the name of eating local!

Broccoli in the field at Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Broccoli in the field at Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Most people probably don’t even think about what broccoli looks like growing in the fieldThis is what it looks like! That’s the developing floret right there in the center surrounded by all those lovely, and edible, mind you, leaves. That’s why I’ve always loved this photo from Growing Washington in Everson — it surprises people. No, milk doesn’t just magically come in a carton, and yes, broccoli does have leaves!

Winter squash from Summer Run Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Winter squash from Summer Run Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Winter squash is also very photogenic. And this photo of delicata and carnival squash from Summer Run Farm taken just this past fall happens to be my favorite. The colors are simply explosive, aren’t they? No wonder so many restaurants will use their squash as decorations around the dining room for weeks before cooking them!

Cauliflower in every color from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cauliflower in every color from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Did you know that cauliflower comes in so many colors? Just it this photo you’ll see purple, yellow, green, white and green romanesco from Growing Things Farm. Seriously, aren’t farmers markets so much more fun in every way than a boring Big Box store, where you’ll only get white cauliflower, and it won’t be remotely as sweet as this stuff is?

Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Finally… and this is the big finally… in honor of Ballard’s Scandinavian roots, and because this photos has actually been republished in national print magazines, let’s finish off my celebration of my favorite product photos, and my role as Blog Master, with these Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms. Their magnificent purple skin belies snow white flesh that makes them a perfect masher.

Thank you for joining me week in and week out for all these years, as I have brought you the news of the day as to what’s fresh now at your Ballard Farmers Market, with a sprinkling of snark and commentary. If at times my tone has seemed revolutionary, that is because the revolution starts here, on your fork. Know that I won’t be too far away, and that you’ll likely still see me around the Market on Sundays. Hopefully, I’ll contribute the odd guest post in the future. And now that I have the time, I’ll be whipping my personal blogs into shape with tales of food and adventure from near and far. You can find my blogs via mayoroffoodtown.com, though give me a couple of weeks to spit-polish them a bit, as they’re a bit tarnished from years of neglect. (If you have need for a skilled writer, photographer or event organizer, contact me through that site.) And I won’t turn down hugs today, either. (Unless you’re sick. Just got over norovirus, and that stuff is just plain nasty.)

xoxo Zach

Just A Few Of My Favorite Photos Of Market People!

March 7, 2015 by
Hilario Alvarez of Alvarez Organic Farms harvesting fresh peanuts on his Mabton farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Hilario Alvarez of Alvarez Organic Farms harvesting fresh peanuts on his Mabton farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

During my tenure here at your Ballard Farmers Market, it has been my pleasure to work with some of the best people anywhere. For my second to last post, I want to share with you some of my favorite images of them. This is by no means any more than a small fraction of my favorites. After all, I produced over 10,000 edited images for our markets in just the last four years alone.

One of my favorite things to do, ever, is to drive over to Eastern Washington to visit Alvarez Organic Farms, and more specifically, to visit Don Hilario Alvarez. A self-made man by any use of the term, Hilario embodies hard work, skill and pride. Last summer, I got to spend an afternoon with him while I did a photo shoot for the Washington State Department of Agriculture. We toured the pepper, tomato and eggplant fields, watched his crew stringing pepper wreaths, and watched as other crews rolled in with truckloads of produce ready to deliver to the farmers markets of Seattle. But I think of all the hundreds of photos I took that day, I like this one the best — Hilario holding up freshly dug peanuts. Yes, he does grow them. He’s proud of that. He should be.

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.

Back in 2010, I travelled with my old Olympus camera over to Port Townsend for my first visit to Colinwood Farm. At the time, Colinwood was a relative newcomer to your Ballard Farmers Market, and so it needed an official farm visit. What I found there was an extraordinary farm stuck smack in the middle of a bunch of houses and a golf course right in town — a farm with some of the deepest, richest, blackest soil I have ever seen, and with a system of greenhouses that, when coupled with the farm’s handy location in the “Banana Belt,” or the Olympic Rainshadow, was able to produce salad mix all winter long, and gave us squash blossoms in March. But it was this image of Jessie Hopkins on the farm’s antique, horse-drawn potato planter that has always stuck with me.

Nash's Kia Armstrong and Wynne 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.

Saying these are two of my favorite market ladies seems to land me in that same trap of knowing how wonderful all of them are at the Market. But my friendships with Nash’s Kia Armstrong and Jerzy Boyz’s Wynne Weinreb predates the start of my employ here back in June 2007, so I think I’m okay here. These two huge personalities helped make the Market the place I long to be every Sunday. And I miss them, what with Kia raising her kids in Port Angeles these days, and Wynne over in Chelan fighting a prolonged illness that kept Jerzy Boyz away from Ballard this past fall. But this image does bring a smile to my face, and it reminds us that we are one big family here. (Get well, Wynne!)

Clayton Burrows of Alm Hill Gardens (a.k.a., Growing Washington) talks farmers markets with Senator Maria Cantwell at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Clayton Burrows of Alm Hill Gardens (a.k.a., Growing Washington) talks farmers markets with Senator Maria Cantwell at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

My buddy, Clayton Burrows, of Growing Washington in Everson, doesn’t get to visit us too much these days, either, but at least I get to see him when I visit my folks up in Bellingham. Clayton is not only a great farmer, he is a brilliant writer and speaker, and as such, he is a powerful advocate for our community. And that is why I love this image of him chatting up U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell two years ago at your Ballard Farmers Market.

David of Wilson Fish is despondent while Pete of Pete's Perfect Butter Toffee sobs over the fact that the fish is sold out at 11:30 a.m. on May 24, 2009. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

David of Wilson Fish is despondent while Pete of Pete’s Perfect Butter Toffee sobs over the fact that the fish is sold out at 11:30 a.m. on May 24, 2009. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This is one of the first blog photos I ever published. See, the blog for your Ballard Farmers Market formally launched back in March 2009, though it really didn’t get cooking until that May, when this photo was taken. It captures two of our Market’s funniest characters — Pete Brogi of Pete’s Perfect Toffee and David Panida of Wilson Fish — despondent over the fact that Wilson Fish sold out of fresh king salmon from the Washington Coast by 11:30 a.m.

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.

Arlene & Marie from Anselmo’s back in 2005. Photo copyright 2005, 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

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 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 existed, regardless of the weather, from the time the Market left Fremont to move to Ballard in 2000 until shortly before she passed in April 2010. So while she may have been hiding from the camera, or protecting herself from the cold, still she was there, always. Thank you, Arlene, for being our founding farmer. We still miss you!

Bacon from Crazy Farmer George at Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bacon from Crazy Farmer George at Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

George Page from Sea Breeze Farm knows his meat. He is intimate with it. He is proud of his sausage. He is… well, he is nuts! And while that might concern some folks who would see him handling this long, sharp knife, never fear. George’s madness is hyper-focused on bringing back old world quality to meat and dairy. And that’s why I love this image. It captures him in all his passionately-crazed glory. (Just don’t lock stares with him for too long.)

The Market Crew from a few years back at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

The Market Crew from a few years back at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

It has been my pleasure to work with this wonderful bunch of young ruffians for so many years. These guys have been doing a lot of the heavy lifting around the Market for years, and the Market wouldn’t exist without them. I captured this image of the Market Boyz several years ago at the end of a long day. Always been kinda fond of it, though I think it still haunts Skylar a little.

Oxbow Alice. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Oxbow Alice. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alice VanderHaak, or Oxbow Alice, as most think of her, actually partnered up with Rand Rasheed during this winter to run One Leaf Farm this coming market season, but for years, she’s been a fixture at Oxbow Farm. I’ve always liked this image of her, not only because she’s just beaming in it, but because of the magnificent colors from the Oxbow banner that frame her.

Gil holds ducklings at Stokesberry Sustainable Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Gil holds ducklings at Stokesberry Sustainable Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Gil Youenes is Market Master Judy Kirkhuff’s son. I have had the honor of watching him grow up into a really cool young man who now manages all of our markets. Two years ago, I got to take him out on his first series of farm visits. I captured this image of him at Stokesberry Sustainable Farm in Olympia. It was fun to watch this tough city boy get charmed by these adorable little ducklings.

Brian enjoys a fresh soda from Soda Jerk Sodas, as well as his new paper hat at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Brian enjoys a fresh soda from Soda Jerk Sodas, as well as his new paper hat at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Your Ballard Farmers Market attracts a broad diversity of people from all over Ballard, Seattle, Washington and the world. And it is our customers and visitors that give the Market as much of its character and identity as anything else. Like Brian, a friend of Soda Jerk’s Cory Clark, who donned one of Cory’s classic paper soda jerk hats a couple of years ago for this memorable shot.

Little Marina loves her some Oxbow Farm broccoli! Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Little Marina loves her some Oxbow Farm broccoli! Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And how can you not love this image of little Marina devouring a head of broccoli from Oxbow Farm back in 2012? Wanna teach your kids to love vegetables? Feeding them vegetables is a good start. Sharing with them the magic of your Ballard Farmers Market helps, too.

Jim holds a gigantic sweet onion from Nash's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Jim holds a gigantic sweet onion from Nash’s Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And then there’s Jim, who I captured with this gigantic sweet onion from Nash’s Organic Farm one summer’s day. Seriously, that sucker is as big as his head!

Jack the Bat Dog. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Jack the Bat Dog. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

At your Ballard Farmers Market, we loves us some dogs. As I see it, spending Sundays with them here means I don’t have to be responsible for them at my house. (I guess that’s why I like being an uncle instead of dad, too.) We do appreciate, of course, that you do your best to keep Fido well-behaved and on a short leash, as we are selling food here, and there are those amongst us not quite as fond of Rover as we are. That said, my favorite dog image at Ballard Farmers Market is this one of Jack the Bat Dog. I mean, seriously, was there ever any question?

Mirror Man mesmerizes the masses at Ballard Farmers Market on February 20, 2001. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Mirror Man mesmerizes the masses at Ballard Farmers Market on February 20, 2001. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And then there are our street performers, or buskers. We don’t pay them. You do with your tips. And they appreciate that. Your Ballard Farmers Market is the second biggest regular draw for street performers after Pike Place Market. Perhaps the most memorable of all of our many, many street performers over the years was Mirror Man. (Hey Mirror Man. Come visit us again sometime soon!)

MoZo rockin' the Market on May 24, 2009. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

MoZo rockin’ the Market on May 24, 2009. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And I’m just throwing in this photo of MoZo because for me, any photo of Mozo is one of my favorite photos. These global troubadours call Ballard home, and we’ve been enjoying them here for years, when they are in town. (Hey, where are you gals?)

Judy & Gil are proud of yet another pair of "Best Of" awards from Seattle Weekly. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Judy & Gil are proud of yet another pair of “Best Of” awards from Seattle Weekly. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I finish off this tour de peeps with this photo of Gil and Market Master Judy proudly displaying two of the many, many awards won by your Ballard Farmers Market over the years. Just the years’ worth of awards from Seattle Weekly alone are enough to cover an entire wall of our office. Thank you Seattle, and beyond, for all your support, thank you, Judy, for giving me this opportunity to wax poetic and photographic for all these years, and thank you, faithful readers and viewers for making the blog for your Ballard Farmers Market one of the most trafficked farmers market blogs around!

Don’t Miss The Market Tomorrow! Set Clocks Forward Tonight!

March 7, 2015 by
Set your clocks forward an hour for Daylight Savings Time tonight! Image courtesy LeeHansen.com.

Set your clocks forward an hour for Daylight Savings Time tonight! Image courtesy LeeHansen.com.


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