A Locavore's Guide to Thanksgiving

            There are so many reasons to celebrate gratitude this Thanksgiving, and a bountiful local harvest is just one of the many things to be thankful for. This year, create a farm to table meal for your loved ones and show your appreciation for good food, good farmers, and your community.  

Here's your Holiday Guide to a locavore Thanksgiving:








From multiple vendors




Meet the Farmer: Skagit River Ranch



Market founder Judy Kirkhuff shares her experience at Skagit River Ranch Farm. 



By Judy Kirkhuff


             September 24th was a beautiful morning. On the road before 7 o’clock, I headed north on I-5 to be there by 9am.  Since they only do this once every 3 or 4 years, I intended to be there from the beginning of the farm tour. Warm welcomes greeted me from everyone as I arrived with time to park, change into my rubber boots, and check in.

           Located behind their little farm store was a large shed that could accommodate as many as 200 visitors.  There was an area set up for kid's activities and lot of long tables where folks could eat lunch and chat.  A display of 5 raffle prizes sat just inside the door on a table and someone selling tickets for $1 each.  Down the side of the room were four local crafts people’s tables.  A woman was there with her jarred produce and recipe books displayed.  She helped me find a Green Tomato Pickle recipe to take home.  There were also herbal lotions, and soap makers, and handmade items.  On the room’s other side, was a sound system with benches and chairs for the audience of presentations scheduled for later.  

         About 10 am about 60-70 of us gathered around George who guided our tour of the Ranch.  All of us loved seeing the baby goats and chicks.  We passed through their family garden as we headed toward the cattle pasture.  Continuing on we saw the 3-4 months old pigs’.  They delighted everyone when they all came up to watch us, while we watched them.  George pointed out that our rainy Northwest climate meant our soil have an overabundance of certain elements, some not good, and a depletion of other nutrients.  For this reason, he regularly tests the beef to evaluate the status of their diet, and if he spots a deficiency, he adds other plants into the pasture that will provide the nutrients that the animals need.  Such efforts are a humane way to conduct animal husbandry.  

         We found the cattle pasture located along the beautiful Skagit River and the animals were grazing about 3 city-blocks away from where we stood.  We also spotted a large hen house with chickens scratching around the field nearby the cattle.  It was a perfect day with sun shine and a bucolic scene to enjoy.  Suddenly George gave a huge yell. He sounded a lot like Tarzan in the jungle.  The herd obviously recognized it because all of them lifted their heads and looked our way.  Maybe because we numbered so many people, the animals seemed to stand a while and consider what to do.  After a minute they began to meander slowly toward us.  In no hurry, some of them stopped to nibble the grasses along the way and we were given the chance to admire the river and foothills around us.

          As the herd came closer, George told us his was the first ranch in the nation to get a USDA grant for a “mobile processing unit” that is located on his property.  It’s this reason, the animals are never stressed by the only bad day in their lives: their last.  The normal procedure is to load them into a truck, travel many miles, then be herded into pens, often standing for hours with other animals they don’t know, finally they’re prodded into a noisy building that smells of blood.  This upsets the animals, and the mobile unit eliminated the flood of stress hormones into their bodies from the ordeal.  The result is a huge improvement in the quality and taste of their meat.  Some readers may have already experienced that for yourselves.  The best part of this tour, for me, happened as the cattle came closer, some of them called out with low and long “moos” that seemed to say, “We’re coming, George”.   After they arrived, we enjoyed the serene animals staring at us as we stared back and took photos.  We heard the dinner bell and headed back for lunch.

            Nicole Vojkovich organized an informational seminar that began during lunch.  The first speaker was Head Chef at the Microsoft campus, Elijah Coe.  He spoke of his project to keep the menus at Microsoft seasonal and local.  After lunch, Dana Mead, an Herbalist, presented how to forage and save herbs and medicinal plants for home use.  Then we heard Janice Strand, a Nutritionist, who discussed the importance of a diet rich in pro-biotics and amino acids.  These build the favorable bacteria in the gut that provides health benefits that health professionals are only beginning to discover.  They now understand that such diets improve our body’s absorption of vital nutrients, boosting the immune and central nervous systems.  The last presenter, Dr. Gary Moskovich, gave an entertaining speech about the basic things that are important for a healthy life.  Finally raffle prizes were awarded with a lot of humor.  After a day full of information, nice people, and a comforting farm atmosphere, we all felt wonderful as we said our goodbyes and thanks were everywhere as we headed home.


Time for Washington Grown Cranberries

Bloom Creek Cranberry Farm now grows two types of crans -- Stevens (left) and Willapa Red (right). Photo credit: Bloom Creek Cranberry Farm.

Bloom Creek Cranberry Farm now grows two types of crans -- Stevens (left) and Willapa Red (right). Photo credit: Bloom Creek Cranberry Farm.

Felix and crew from Bloom Creek Cranberry Farm are back at Ballard Farmers Market with this year's harvest of Washington-grown cranberries. Hailing from bogs in Olympia, Washington, Bloom Creek now grows two varieties of this festive fruit. Bloom Creek harvests from two bogs -- their original Stevens bog and their new Willapa Red bog, which produces a smaller and darker berry with more tannin-like flavors, similar to that of a wild cranberry.  Bloom Creek will be at Ballard for just a few weeks, so stock up before Thanksgiving and store in the freezer to use throughout the holiday season -- they freeze really well. 

We hope you'll think of crans beyond the holiday table, as they're loaded with health benefits. Here are just a few, for starters: 

  • The deep crimson pigmentation that make cranberries so beautiful (also known as anthocyanins) is also the source of disease-fighting antioxidants
  • Cranberries are high in fiber --  1 cup of cranberries contains more than 4 grams of fiber, or about 18 percent of the daily recommended value.  which helps promotes healthy digestion (which may come in hand for the Thanksgiving feast).
  • Crans are a great way to get your Vitamin C and its myriad anti-viral, antibacterial punch -- from teeth and gums support to fighting off the common cold. One cup of whole fruit contains about 18 percent of the daily recommended value.

Here's our favorite way to make cranberry sauce, from the SFMA recipe vault. 

Love cranberries, but not sure about the cooking part? Starvation Alley makes 100% Pure Cranberry Juice from organic cranberries as well as cranberry sauce. 




Just what the doctor ordered, more veggies!


           They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and since July, Seattle-area doctors have been prescribing apples to do just that. Well, a prescription of fruits and vegetables that is, thanks to Fresh Bucks Rx. A new offshoot of the Seattle Fresh Bucks program, Fresh Bucks Rx allows healthcare providers to write produce prescriptions for their patients. This prescription is then redeemed at farmers markets throughout King County for Fresh Bucks tokens, which act as cash for produce purchases.

            Experts recommend that we eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a daily as part of a balanced diet. However, food security and lack of access to nutritious food is an ongoing issue for low-income individuals here in Seattle and beyond, therefore hindering their ability to eat well consistently..  

          With Fresh Bucks Rx, the hope is to better connect healthcare providers, farmers markets, and low-income families, by providing access and support to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption. Consider the farmers market the new neighborhood “Farmacy” and come get your dose of nutrition every Sunday at the Ballard Farmers Market. 


As of this writing, the two Fresh Bucks Rx-participating providers in Seattle are Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and Harborview Medical Center.

Scenes from Farmers Market Week 2016

Thanks to all of you who came out and joined us for another successful Farmers Market Week. Gazpacho blending, tattoo-sticking and general merry making were in full swing, with summer produce and flowers as the glorious back drop.  The photos above capture the mood and why we feel so lucky to do what we do.