Sunday, May 16th: Mothers, Crowds, Eagles & The Return Of An Empire!

For the second consecutive year, Mother's Day was a record-breaking attendance day for your Ballard Farmers Market. But if you were here last week, you already know this. It seems that everyone and their mother (sorry, couldn't resist) loves the Ballard Farmers Market. If you weren't with mom at the Market, you were there getting something for mom. The only logical conclusion from this is that mom's love Ballard Farmers Market, and you know it. So your gift to her on her special day had to either be bringing her to the Market, or bringing her something from the Market. And since we all know that mom knows best, you should listen to your mother and come to Ballard Farmers Market more often! (If you don't, you will feel guilty.)

The lines at each of the flower vendors last week were extraordinary, even by Mother's Day standards. Just look at this line in front of Alm Hill Gardens. At one point, I saw a line at Mee Garden that was at least 15 people deep. Thank you for remembering that while moms love flowers, they love them even more when they are local, without having to be flown in from all of the world, thus creating more demand for oil.

I love this image of all hands on deck at Mee Garden, making beautiful bouquets as fast as they can, with customers stacked up like cord wood in the background. And from the looks of all the empty farm tables by the end of the day last week, you all fed mom pretty well, too.

But perhaps my favorite image from Mother's Day 2010 was Ma & Pa bald eagle circling high above Ballard Farmers Market midday. I'm not sure whether they were simply enjoying the beautiful day like the rest of us, or if they were eyeballing some of those cute little dogs so many of you bring each week, thinking to themselves, "Hey, let's pick up something for dinner at Ballard Farmers Market." Whatever the case, this wonderful pair of eagles clearly seems to enjoy the Market as much as we all do.

The arrival of warm weather means ice cream. Whidbey Island Ice Cream Company had long lines itself at times last week, as moms and kids alike enjoyed a cool treat while walking the market. And speaking of ice cream, Empire Ice Cream returns to Ballard Farmers Market today for the first time in 2010. Empire is known for making gourmet ice cream using fresh, local ingredients, many of which come from Market farmers. Empire even sources its sugar somewhat locally -- from Idaho.

Believe it or not, you can already find lovely, large heads of lettuce in the Market. Check out the lettuce, above, from Colinwood Farms. And these aren't even the biggest ones! And Summer Run already has big heads of lettuce, too.

Cape Cleare is back today with its superb flash-frozen at sea Alaskan salmon. They actually come to Ballard Farmers Market from their homeport of Port Townsend by bicycle each week, pulling their fish coolers to Market on their custom trailers.

Don't forget to pick up some delicious caramels from Jonboy Caramels during your Market visit today. These guys use all local dairy from family farmers to make their incredible treats.

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.

Sunday, January 3rd: Happy New Year!!!

Happy 2010 all y'all! Since I don't have any photos of your Ballard Farmers Market with fireworks going off, I thought I'd recycle this photo of the Market with a fire truck, instead. Kinda festive, don't you think? Ooh, and look at those lovely, green spring leaves on the trees. Soon, people. Soon. But this photo kinds reminds me of all the fun we had at the Market in 2009. Sure, I could be like so many folks I've heard lately droning on about what a terrible year 2009 was, but you can get that from every other blog, talk show and newscast right now without me adding to it. Frankly, there was quite a lot I liked about 2009, and much of it I encountered right here in beautiful historic Ballard at your Ballard Farmers Market.

We are blessed at Ballard Farmers Market with a wealth of artistic talent in the form of our many buskers who perform here every Sunday. The Market has become second only to Pike Place Market for street performers, and I recall several Sundays in 2009 when we easily hosted more buskers than Pike Place every would. It is part of the many facets that make Ballard Farmers Market so special. And I love the fact that during several weeks during 2009, MoZo, the lovely and entertaining ladies pictured above, actually were in the top five search terms that brought people from around the interweb to this very blog. Just goes to show you that the Market is about much more than just the great vendors selling stuff. It is about our entire community.

We also watched Ballard Avenue grow along with the Market in 2009, with the addition of several new businesses, like Bastille (above), Moshi Moshi and Fresh Flours, and with many more of our neighboring businesses opening up on Sundays to serve the many Market faithful who would fill the neighborhood.

Speaking of loyal Ballard Farmers Market fans filling the street, 2009 set new records for Market attendance at a time when so many big box retailers were fretting over sluggish foot traffic in their malls. What those big box boys and girls don't seem to understand, or are incapable of grasping, is that Ballard Farmers Market faithful value quality, relationships and supporting their neighbors and their local economy more than they do buying cheap, mass-produced garbage from China. Our Market community understands that when they invest their dollars in purchasing delicious and beautiful locally-made goods straight from the producer, they are helping to ensure the future of their own jobs, because they are supporting living wage jobs and keeping their dollars recirculating in the local economy. It's no wonder so many Market shoppers spend as much at our neighbors storefront businesses here on Ballard Avenue each Sunday as they do in the Market itself.

We must celebrate some of the amazing new stuff at the Market in 2009, like these sweet potatoes from Lyall Farms. You know, when Alan Scott first pointed out to me the rows of young sweet potato seedlings on their farm in Sunnyside back in June, I was very excited. I had never seen sweet potatoes brought to a farmers market in Western Washington in my almost 20 years of working with markets, and I had only seen them a couple of times in Eastern Washington. The thought that we could have local sweet potatoes are our Market later in the year was wonderful to me, and we know based on how many sweet potatoes Lyall Farms, as well as Alm Hill Gardens, sold in the fall of 2009 that many of you Market faithful were thrilled to get your hands on them, too.

Nash's Organic Produce introduced us first to locally-grown whole grains from the Olympic Peninsula in early 2009, and then they brought us freshly milled flours -- hard red and soft white wheat flours -- by the time the holidays came around. 10 years ago, when I was Executive Director of the Washington State Farmers Market Association, I scheduled our board retreat to be held in Waterville, Washington, a small, historic city on US-2, just east of the Columbia River, that is literally surrounded by wheat fields. I wanted the WSFMA board to be fully conscious of their mission -- to serve all the farmers of Washington state -- so that someday in the future we would have local grain products at our farmers markets. To see farms like Nash's and Bluebird bringing grain products to Ballard Farmers Market in 2009 is very rewarding to me indeed.

And I know many of you missed your shellfish fix for New Year's Eve this past week, and while I am not so much waxing poetic about 2009 and Taylor Shellfish Farms right now, I do want to assure you that Oyster Bill is back today to satisfy all your slimy mollusk needs. So come on down and celebrate the new year with some oysters and clams... and the rest of us. Just don't get hung up trashing 2009. We can make 2010 better than 2009 without the need to knock 2009 so far down as to make it impossible for 2010 not to be better. Let's set our expectations high, eh?

And remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for your kitchen. 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.

Seafood Fest & Colorful Food

A beautiful, and busy, day at Ballard Farmers Market on July 26th. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons. Sunday, July 26th brought another spectacular, sunny day to the Ballard Farmers Market... and the Ballard Seafood Festival. So I thought it appropriate to capture this image of the throngs of Market faithful from a perch atop one of Wilson Fish's coolers. Seafood Fest certainly filled the neighborhood and parking, and it clogged Ballard streets. It was fun, but it did make it challenging for some to visit the Market, so we will excuse you if you missed the Market on July 26th. Besides, it gave us an opportunity to introduce the Market to many new folks. And we look forward to seeing you back next time.

A gorgeous display by Nash's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For those who braved the Seafood Fest crowds, you were rewarded by some of the most spectacularly colorful displays of food of the year. Just take a look at this display of bountiful deliciousness from Nash's.

A rainbow of labels on cans of St. Jude tuna. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And Fishing Vessel St. Jude's display of their canned tuna looks like a rainbow. St. Jude catches juvenile albacore as it swims south along the Washington coast, when it is still full of omega-fatty acids that protected it in cold North Pacific waters, and while it is still young and with little mercury, unlike its tropical adult elders. St. Jude comes to the Market every other week, so look for them next on August 9th.

Fresh, brilliant and fragrant lavender from Floating Leaves Lavender Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Floating Leaves Lavender Farm returned to Ballard Farmers Market for the 2009 season. The fresh lavender harvest is now at its peak on the North Olympic Peninsula, around Sequim, the lavender capitol of North America. With the 2009 Lavender Festival last week behind them, lavender farms like Floating Leaves and Moosedreams are back at the Market in all their glory. Enjoy this special Northwest harvest while you can.

Growing Things cheddar cauliflower. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Check out this aptly named cheddar cauliflower from Growing Things. Growing Things grows several varieties of cauliflower, including graffiti, which is purple, and this lovely stuff, which is probably really good with, um, cheese. (Sorry. I just couldn't help being cheesy here.)

This magnificent display comes to us courtesy of Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

When I am coaching new vendors about how to improve their displays, the first place I send them is to Boistfort Valley Farm's stall to study how they do it. This little snapshot of Boistfort's display on the 26th accounts for maybe 15% of their total display, tops. It sings beauty, freshness, quality, variety, abundance and choice, just what we all are looking for at the Market.

Sunflowers from The Old Gardener. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers. They are just so large and in charge. Well, it is sunflower season, and many farms have them now, like these from The Old Gardener, mid-market, near Wilson Fish.

A colorful mix of berries from Jessie's Berries. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Berries continue to brighten up the Market, like these mixed berry flats from Jessie's Berries. For folks who want a potpourri of berries, this is definitely the way to go.

Chinese spinach from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Chinese spinach may in fact be the most beautiful vegetable on earth. Just look at this Chinese spinach from Children's Garden. It's incredible.

Lovely and edible garlic flowers from Red Barn. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Let's finish our little journey down colorful lane with these wonderful garlic flowers from Red Barn Farm. If you have never seen garlic in the field when it goes into bloom, this is what its flowers look like. Picture, if you will, chives when they flower, then picture them a lot bigger, and you can imagine garlic flowers. Or, you can just go to Red Barn and see them... and eat them, too.

Seafood Fest is gone for another year. It is safe for you to return to Downtown Ballard. We'll see you next time at the Market.

Dragon's Tongues, Chinese Spinach, Blooming Succulents & Bread-Loving Butterflies

Dragon's Tongue beans from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons. These cool looking, not to mention tasty, Dragon's Tongue beans from Oxbow Farm were among the many interesting, new arrivals at Ballard Farmers Market on Sunday, July 5th, but if you were holed up at home, trying to stop the ringing in your ears from the prior night's fireworks and celebrating, you missed them.

Chinese spinach from Mee Gardens. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Another new arrival, and for my money, one of the most beautiful greens on earth, is this Chinese spinach from Mee Garden. As far as I know, only Mee Garden and Children's Garden grow it locally for the Market. If you are looking for an Asian green that Asians eat, here it is.

New harvest shallots from Anselmo. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Right behind Mee Garden, on the 22nd Avenue end of the Market, is Anselmo Farms. They are well known for growing many amazing varieties of onions, garlic and shallots, like these gorgeous, freshly-harvested specimens.

Mt. St. Helens cheese from Port Madison. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

In honor of the volcano that coated everything in the state in ash in 1980 is this volcano-looking, ash-covered cheese from Port Madison that is just (oh, doesn't it hurt so much when you absolutely know what's coming next, and you are helpless to stop it?) erupting with flavor. (Uh, sorry. Well, not really.)

Flowering succulents at Phocas Farms in Port Angeles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

If you haven't yet checked out Phocas Farms' spectacular collection of succulents -- those fascinating and beautiful critters of the plant kingdom that will grow just about anywhere outdoors you stick them, and will tolerate a dry summer like this without breaking a sweat -- then you must do so soon. They grow literally hundreds of varieties of them, and many of them are in full-bloom now. But Phocas could be bumped out until fall in favor of more incoming produce any week, so you definitely should not let another week go by without walking up to their booth to say, "Hey Jimmy!" And he has local saffron, too! (Oh, and he's next to Mee Garden. Guess I'm kinda favoring that end of the Market here, aren't I?  Okay, to the other end...)

A butterfly with great taste in bread. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Check out this lovely little butterfly that paid a visit to Tall Grass Bakery on July 5th. At the Ballard Farmers Market, we welcome butterflies and ladybugs. It reminds us that if they are here, then the food ain't gonna kill us, either. A comforting thought, don't you think?

Wilson Fish king salmon two ways. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wilson Fish had whole sides of Washington king salmon on the 5th, both fresh and smoked. And Loki Fish also had fresh Alaskan salmon, as well as freshly-smoked salmon. Just take a look at these lovely pieces of fish...

Freshly-smoked Alaskan king salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of fish, did you know that Shiku Sushi is now open during Market hours every Sunday? They are right in the middle of the block of the Market.

Shiku Sushi is open for brunch during Market hours every Sunday. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And yet another eatery for Sunday brunch has opened on the Market's block of Ballard Avenue. Bastille opened for business on June 29th, with their first Parisian Sunday brunch served on July 5th during the Market. In fact, diners can brunch al fresco while enjoying a front-row seat to the show that is Ballard Farmers Market every week.

Brunching on the Garden Patio at Bastille. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And when you're done with brunch, pickup one of these Flying Apron muffins for later. I mean, just look at them. How can you resist?

Look at all the lovely muffins from Flying Apron. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

So don't you dare miss another week of the Ballard Farmers Market, and I will do my best not to disparage anyone else in our local print media, no matter how outlandish their claims about the local food movement. (Indie rock fans, you just gotta get some of that Chinese spinach.)

Fresh Loki Salmon, Grapeseed Oil, Fractalicious Romanesco & Red, White & Blue Potatoes

Fresh whole keta salmon from Loki Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons. Loki Fish had fresh Alaskan king, sockeye and keta salmon at the Ballard Farmers Market on Sunday, June 28th, but if you weren't there, you missed it.

Apres Vin made is Ballard Farmers Market debut on June 28th with its artisan Washington grapeseed oils. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Apres Vin debuted at the Market this week with its lucious Washington grapeseed oils. These oils are made from the seeds of wine grapes after they are pressed for wine. As such, they have the flavors of those grapes. They are also high in antioxidants, and they have a very high smoke point, so they are great for cooking. Apres Vin has pure varietal oils and infused oils, including Cabernet Poivre, which is infused with pepper, and Chardonnay Fume, which no one can sample without saying, "Wow!"

Colinwood Farm red, white & blue potatoes. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Just in time for Independence Day and some patriotic potato salad were these red, white and blue new potatoes from Colinwood Farm. It is always a bit of a sport to see which farm can manage to get these in before July 4th. Congrats, Colinwood!

Oxbow Farm's Luke Woodward proudly showing off his prized carrots. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Why is Oxbow Luke smiling? Because he holds in his hands some of the best carrots on earth. The orange ones in his right hand are so sweet, they are like candy. The purple ones in his left hand, called Purple Haze, are beautiful roasted or eaten raw, with a much earthier flavor, and they are really cool, too. And speaking of really cool vegetables, how about this Romanesco from Boistfort Valley Farm.

Boistfort Valley Farm Romanesco. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This stuff is not only delicious, it is the only vegetable that grows in fractals. Just look at the infinite spiral patterns in it. This is a truly magnificent crop, no matter how you look at it. Of course, on the more familiar score, Red Barn Farm has some pretty spectacular lettuces available, too.

Red Barn has five gorgeous varieties of lettuce. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

But let's talk fruit. Apricots, in fact. They are raging right now, resulting in another "proud papa" photo, in this case of Bill -- the "Bill" in Bill's Fruit.

You would have this expression on your face, too, if you had just eaten an apricot from Bill's Fruit. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And how about these lovely squash blossoms from Growing Things Farm.

Delicate squash blossoms from Growing Things are great stuffed and fried. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okay, one last shot of the less familiar -- fennel bulb and purslane. These both make for great salad ingredients, and the fennel is nice in a sauté or veggie roast, or even grilled. Stop by Alm Hill to check both out.

Alm Hill fennel (left) and purslane. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

So I hope you didn't miss all this on June 28th. And whatever the case, you have better make it next time, as you never know what may show up unannounced for your dining pleasure.

Oh, and don't let those "journalists" at the Seattle Weekly discourage you from trying stuff you've never seen in the big box stores. No matter how much some writers try to make their own careers last longer by pronouncing things we like to be "trendy," we all know what tastes good. Besides, many of these "trendy" varieties of produce have been around for centuries. So feel free to stick your tongue out at the Weekly and enjoy whatever you like.

Bolles Berries, Local Roots, Daikon Radishes & Potlatch Pilaf

Did you miss the Market on Sunday, June 14th? If you did, you missed the introduction of our newest farm vendor, and the return of three others. Local Roots, from Carnation, grows some of the most unique, and most beautiful, produce found anywhere. Just take a look at this gorgeous chard they had this week.

Rainbow Chard from Local Roots. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bolles Organic Berry Farm returned to the Market for the 2009 berry season on the 14th with their succulent strawberries. They'll have raspberries and blueberries in July, and maybe someday in the future, they'll have some of the first cultivated truffles, but they tell me that is still in the development stage. Stay tuned.

Bolles Organic Farm's berries are back at the Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bluebird Grain Farms, from Twisp, is known for their magnificent, hearty and delicious heirloom grains and grain products. Now, they have introduced a new product, Potlatch Pilaf, that combines their great emmer/farro with wild rice from Oregon.

Bluebird Grain Farms' Potlatch Pilaf. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Jessies Berries is another farm that returned to Ballard this week, with their strawberries that are so fragrant, you can smell them from space. I know. I have a direct line to the International Space Station. Really. Would I like to you?

Lyall Farms, which has orchards in Mattawa, Desert Aire and Prosser, also returned to Ballard on June 14th with Tieton and Rainier cherries.

Rainier cherries from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I know I missed a week of my running series of huge heads of lettuce last week. I was thinking about it, and I decided that maybe sexy heads of lettuce is a better slant to take. In that case, this Colinwood Farm lettuce display has got to be the pin-up photo for the month of June in the sexy lettuce displays calendar.

Okay. Look at the lettuce, not the sexy farmer! Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Most of the planet thinks every week is a good week for goat meat. Did you know that goat meat is the most commonly consumed animal protein on earth? It seems only we Americans have yet to develop an appreciation for it, but personally, I love the stuff. Well, any week is also a good week for goat meat at Quilceda Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Just look at all these lovely cuts of goatiliciousness.

Quilceda Farm's goat meat display at the Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of farms that grow all sorts of unique and uncommon crops (okay, that was at the top of this post, but work with me), Stoney Plains Organic Farm from Tenino brought their first daikon radishes of the season to the Market on the 14th. Are they spectacular?

Daikon radishes from Stoney Plains. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

So, I ask you... how can you possibly justify to yourself missing yet another week of the Ballard Farmers Market? Really, how can you?

Cherries, Carrots, Zucchini, Cilantro, Amen.

Cherries joined strawberries in creating pandemonium at the Market on Sunday, June 7th, which begs the question, where were you?

Hayton Farms is back at the Market with their famous strawberries. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Strawberries were found this week at Alm Hill, Stoney Plains, Tiny's, Collins, Hayton and others, while cherries were offered by Bill's Fruit, ACMA, Ayala, Magana and more.

Oxbows infamous carrots are back. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Carrots are also taking the Market by storm, much to the delight of rabbits, people with bad night vision, and, well, everyone else. Look at these beauties at Oxbow. And Full Circle has them in orange and yellow.

Growing Things radishes. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And when it comes to colorful, tasty roots, how about radishes. All kinds of radishes are filling the Market right now, but they don't much like the heat, so enjoy them now, while you can. Just look at the spectacular Icicle and Easter Egg radishes from Growing Things above.  And how about this radish display from Nash's...

Nash's radishes. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Nature's Last Stand returned to Ballard Farmers Market on June 7th, after a long winter's battle with snow and floods. Garlic scapes, spinach, salad mix, French Breakfast radishes, kale medley and green garlic are just some of the bits of deliciousness found on their tables.

Nature's Last Stand, complete with John's smiling mug, is back at the Market for 2009. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And for those who don't know what green garlic and garlic scapes are, check out this scene from Anselmo's tables...

Anselmo's green garlic (top) and garlic scapes. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Green garlic, at the top of the photo, is garlic harvested and sold fresh, without having be dry cured, like you find in grocery stores. Sometimes green garlic is sold very young, when it looks like green onions. Garlic scapes, seen at the bottom of this photo, are the tops of hard-neck garlic as it prepares to bloom. It curls around as it grows, getting it the nickname of "rattlesnake tails," with the rattle-looking bud at the end. Get these while their tender, and use them much like any garlic. It is milder, and a bit grassy in flavor, but it is sweeter than mature garlic, and it allows you to have some fun with your garlic seasons.

Full Circle zucchini. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Full Circle Farm won the prize for the first zucchini of the season, though we can be assured that much more with follow. And Children's Garden was the first to have cilantro this week.

Cilantro from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Needless to say, though I am going to say it anyway, Sunday, June 7th marked a significant tidal shift in produce at the Market. We are marching headlong into the peak season now. Can I get an amen? But, of course, you missed it, didn't you? What were you thinking?

Whips & Scapes, Fire Trucks, Van Gogh Flowers & Sushi Bars

With yet another lovely Sunday, it seems everyone was out enjoying the Ballard Farmers Market on May 31st. If you were not amongst them, you missed Seattle's newest fire truck, strutting its stuff. While its crew was sampling its way through the Market, this truck looked rather festive against a backdrop of the Market's colorful flags. Kinda makes you wish fire trucks had big, colorful flags sticking out of them all the time, doesn't it?

Check out these gorgeous leek tops at Nash's. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Oh, sure, I could have posted a photo of curly garlic scapes (a.k.a., rattlesnake tails), or even onion whips, but when it comes to this seasons most unusual onion family plant buds at the market, leek tops have to take the cake. They are a tasty lot, these whips and scapes, but their season is short, so get them while you can.

Collins Family Orchard is the second farm this season with strawberries at the Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

All it took was a little heat, and bam! Here came the strawberries. Tiny's and Collins had them from Eastern Washington this week, but by next week, lots of folks will have them... and peas, too.

Sugar snap peas from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sugar snap peas are always the first peas of the season. These beauties, from Alvarez, can be eaten like candy right out of the bag, sautéed, tossed in a salad, or thrown in with some pasta.

A tray-full of Japanese deliciousness for Sunday brunch at Moshi Moshi. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Are you one of those folks who has been staring forlornly into the windows of Moshi Moshi during the Market on Sundays, reading the menu and wishing they were open? Well, now they are. May 31st marked the date Moshi Moshi began serving some fine Japanese brunch on Ballard Avenue. And Sutter Home & Hearth was open again, too. I think they actually feel bad about not being open on Memorial Day weekend, when you were looking for charcoal for your barbecue.

The Tallboys at the Market on May 31st. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

The Market was aglow with the music and dancing of The Tallboys this week. Indeed, they captured such a large crowd that those "no parking" signs in the background might have come in handy.

Stoney Plains' purple kate. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Let's see. There's green kale, and red Russian kale. There's curly leaf kale, and there's dino kale. And then there's purple kale at Stoney Plains. You know, one of the many, many things I love about the Market is when a farmer boastfully shows me their latest "cool" crop they have harvested, and purple kale definitely falls into that category, along with those leek tops, of course. And speaking of kale, did you know that Nash's has its own variety of kale? Nash's red kale. And they will even sell you the seeds for it, so you can grow it yourself.

Magnificent Alm Hill sunflowers. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And if you missed the Market on May 31st, you missed these spectacular sunflowers at Alm Hill Gardens. Just look at these lovelies. Is it any wonder Van Gogh was captivated by them? They just reach out an grab you, don't they? Like everything else at the Market. Which begs the question, where the heck were you last week?

Camera Crews, Canine Class & Crying Confectioners

Michael Schweisheimer (second from left), and his crew from Primitive World Productions. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

 

Did you miss the Ballard Farmers Market this past Sunday, May 24th? If you did, wow, did you miss a lot. Like this camera crew from Philadelphia that is producing a video series for high schools and colleges on green careers for the U.S. Department of Education. They initially came to speak with Oyster Bill Whitbeck of Taylor Shellfish about the relationship between shellfish farming and clean water, and they ended up learning a lot more about how farmers markets and a strong local food system is full of all sorts of green jobs, like blogging about this market, for instance.

Chef Tamara Murphy of Brasa and Elliott Bay Café being interviewed by Primitive World. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of green careers, Chef Tamara Murphy certainly has one. Owner of Brasa and The Elliott Bay Café, she is committed to sourcing ingredients from local food producers like many of our Market vendors.

Phocas Farms tribute to Obama in succulents. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Apparently Phocas Farms' Jim Robinson was so inspired by this thoughtful use of U.S. Department of Education funds by the Obama administration that he saluted the Obamanation in succulents. But did he know there was royalty in the Market this past Sunday, too?

Oxbow Farm's Sarah Cassidy with little Pearl. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

The Market received a rare treat in the form of a visit from Oxbow's Sarah Cassidy with her and Luke's little one, Pearl. And we even had a visit from one very classy dog, Leeloo Dannaker, wearing fine Elizabethan attire.

Leeloo Dannaker models the latest in Elizabethan canine fashion at the Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Winner of this week's monster head of lettuce sweepstakes is Oxbow Farm with, um, okay, they are not huge at all. But Luke says, it's not the size of the lettuce, but how much of it you use. Guess he figures if you get a couple of fresh little heads each week, you will be better off than one huge one every couple of weeks, as it'll be fresher and tastier that way.

Not huge, but beautiful and delicious, check out this lettuce from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And for best display of the week, I have to go with this incredible stack of green Walla Walla sweet onions from Magana.

Magana's got one sweet stack of sweet onions. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

May 24th was quieter at the Market than in recent weeks, not due to less people, but less buskers, as so many of them were drawn away by the annual Northwest Folklife Festival. Of course, that meant we all got an extra good dose of Market favorites, MoZo, with their top-tapping tunes and their wildly infectious smiles.

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

I understand you may have the excuse that you were at Folklife yourself, or camping or sailing, but I'm not buying it. How could you miss all this? And did I mention the fresh salmon and halibut at Wilson Fish that was sold out by 11:30 a.m., and the saffron ice cream at Empire that was sold out by 11 a.m.! Yup, you missed them, too. And the goat's milk, and the pickled asparagus, and then... old sold out, and you missed it. So you better show up next time, and early, or you may end up like this!

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 24th. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Of Wilson Fish, Pickled Asparagus, Barbecues & Very Small Buskers

This warm, sunny Sunday business at the Ballard Farmers Market is almost becoming routine, but it's a routine we're all happy to live with. And if you missed the market on May 17th, you missed even more sunshine in the form of Alm Hill Gardens founder Gretchen Hoyt who attended the Market for the first time, even though her farm has been here for years. Gretchen proved she can still make a bouquet of flowers as beautiful as she is. And not surprisingly, she told me that now she understands why the kids from the farm always rave to her about our market. Alm Hill's Gretchen Hoyt making beautiful bouquets at Ballard Farmers Market on May 17th. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wilson Fish finally returned this week with gorgeous Washington coastal king salmon. Of course, Gene Panida had to call me at 2:24 a.m. Sunday morning to tell me they had fish to sell. I got myself a nice piece of that fish and grilled it up Monday evening. It was like buttuh. Remember, this fish was swimming on Saturday, at the market on Sunday, and on my plate on Monday. You can't find fresher fish unless to catch it yourself! And at $22/pound, it swims circles around that Alaskan stuff you have to sell off your first born to afford.

Gene Panida of Wilson Fish showing off some beautiful pieces of king salmon on Sunday, May 17th that was still swimming on Saturday, May 16th. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Of course, we also missed Wilson Fish for their humor over the first to Sundays of May, like that sign over Gene's right shoulder, above, that reads, "Vegetarian: Old Indian Word for 'Bad Fisherman.'" Speaking of vegetables...

Colinwood Farm, from Port Townsend, gets the "Big Head of Lettuce" photo of the week. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Another week, another farm with gargantuan heads of lettuce. One of these heads from Colinwood Farm could feed a family of twelve for a week!

Flowering chives from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

More and more spectacular green things are arriving at the Market every week now, from green Walla Walla Sweets from Alvarez to green garlic from, well, just about everyone to green, fragrant mint from Mee Garden, Stoney Plains and Children's Garden to these colorful green and violet flowering chives, also from Children's Garden.

Fresh 2009 pickled asparagus from Ayala Farms in Outlook. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I got to visit Ayala Farms' 120 acres of asparagus a few weeks ago. It gives one an entirely different perspective on asparagus to see it growing in the field. Every day, they have to walk every row of every acre and cut that day's shoots -- sometimes twice a day. It takes a lot of hard work to deliver this true treat of spring to you at the market. And now Ayala Farms has pickled some of their asparagus. Find it right next to their fresh asparagus, ready to garnish that salad... or that Bloody Mary.

Sutter Home & Hearth on Ballard Avenue is now open during the Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ballard Farmers Market has shared Ballard Avenue with Sutter Home & Hearth for years, but until this month, the latter has never been open during the market. Fortunately for us, though, Sutter, which is Seattle's premier barbecue and fireplace store, is now open to hook you up with your lump charcoal to cook your Quilceda goat meat, your alder chips to smoke your Wilson, Loki or Cape Cleare salmon, or to get you fully outfitted with a new 22" Weber Bullet Smoker to host a few racks of ribs or a nice brisket from Skagit River, Samish Bay, Olsen, Stokesberry or Sea Breeze.

Zac (left) and Ale Grynberg performing at Ballard Farmers Market on May 17th. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And, of course, there were lots and lots of street performers this week. But have you noticed that they are starting to shrink a bit? You gotta love that kids are coming out to the Market to strut their stuff, and learning that their artistic expression can garner generous rewards as all you lovely Market shoppers tip them.

Wild wood sorrel at Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

The moral of the story is, don't miss another week of the Ballard Farmers Market, or you may very well miss the entirety of wild wood sorrel season.

A Late Mother's Day Reprise

Sorry for such a late "What'd I Miss?" post for May 10th. We've been very busy with the 2009 season launch of the Madrona Farmers Market, which returned this past Friday, May 15th, and the Wallingford Farmers Market, which returns this coming Wednesday, May 20th.  Check out each market's new blogs. A Mother's Day visit to Ballard Farmers Market from the entire family Vojkovich of Skagit River Ranch. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

May 10th was another warm, sunny Sunday, brightened even more so by market mom, Eiko Vojkovich (left, above). We have been assured that her husband, George (right, above), actually loaded that truck for Eiko in honor of Mom's Day.

Summer Run's Cathryn Baerwald is back behind those tomato plants somewhere. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Summer Run Ranch, Empire Ice Cream and Oxbow Farm all returned to Ballard Farmers Market this week. With them, we saw beautiful tomato plants, ice cream flavored with bacon and hazelnuts, pea vines, purple sprouting broccoli and more.

Ballard Farmers Market rejoices at the return of the smile face of Oxbow Farm's Luke Woodward. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

So don't you dare miss another week of the Ballard Farmers Market, or you could miss out on Five Acre Farm's gargantuan heads of lettuce -- what we like to think of as the lettuce that ate Manhattan.

Soma, from Five Acre Farm in Coupeville, holding a head of lettuce that is not only as big as her head, it is as big as her entire torso! Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Greens, Blues & White (Cauliflower, anyway)

  May 3rd was just another sunny Sunday at Ballard Farmers Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Nothing beats a beautiful, sunny Sunday at the Ballard Farmers Market, and May 3rd did not disappoint. With more farmers returning every week, and more and more crops coming in, the Market is bursting with life.

 

Beautiful, crisp baby bok choy from Full Circle Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

May is a month dominated by spring greens at the Market, as we begin our annual trek through the color-coded rainbow of Northwest produce seasons. This week greeted us with baby bok choy at Full Circle, head lettuce at Colinwood, spring kale at Alm Hill and leeks at Anselmo's. And, of course, there was plenty of asparagus to be found at Alm Hill, Alvarez, Ayala and Magana farms.

 

Local blues man, Tyler Morgan (right) getting down with Cleveland blues man, Wallace Coleman at Ballard Farmers Market on May 3rd. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Those lucky enough to catch the impromptu duet of local blues boy, Tyler Morgan, and Cleveland blues man, Wallace Coleman, in front of the Guitar Emporium enjoyed the kind of musical treat that is becoming more and more common at the Market.

 

Lovely spring cauliflower from Nash's. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Greens, blues, and even this gorgeous, white cauliflower from Nash's graced the Market this week. And one very bright patch of red, too.

 

In a season filled with every shade of green, these brilliant, red radishes at Full Circle Farm definitely brightened up the Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

The Circus & Bluebird Grain Farms

Unless you got to the market early on April 26, 2009, you missed the UC Berkeley Men's A Cappella Octet singing doo-wop songs in front of Lucca great finds. They were singing for fun and gas money on their way to a competition in Vancouver, BC. The Circus Contraption band performing at the Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Circus Contraption was also running amuck of the Market, performing and promoting their soon-to-close-forever Show To End All Shows in the Theo Chocolate factory, next to our sister market in Fremont.

 

When he's not clowning around at Wilson Fish, Tim Davidson is an international disaster relief volunteer for the Red Cross. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of running amuck, those wacky guys at Wilson Fish were up to their usual antics this Sunday... besides selling an awful lot of fish.

 

First of the season rhubarb from Alm Hill Gardens in Everson. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Washington is the rhubarb capitol of the world, and besides asparagus, it is a sure sign that spring is here for good. Alm Hill and Stoney Plains had it this week, with more to come next.

 

Golden Glen Creamery's new cow's milk feta. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You missed the introduction of Golden Glen Creamery's newest cheese, too -- its cow's milk feta. Hmm, you know what feta would work well in? A nice emmer salad. And if you missed the Market this week, you missed to arrival of Bluebird Grain Farms with emmer, rye, wheat and all different milled varieties of them, to boot.

 

Whole grain emmer, rye and wheat from Bluebird Grain Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And you missed this beautiful peppermint from Children's Garden.

 

Fresh, spirited peppermint from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Morels, Asparagus & Saffron, Oh, My!

  Washington's first morel mushrooms for 2009, picked by Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

What?!? You missed the market on April 19th? What were you thinking? There was no holiday, no rain, no wind, no cold... and there was asparagus!

 

First of the season asparagus from Alvarez Organic Farms in Mabton. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Yes, both Alvarez Organic Farms and Ayala are back for 2009, bringing their first-of-the-season Yakima Valley asparagus with them. And what goes perfectly with asparagus? Wild morel mushrooms, harvested in Washington's forests by Foraged & Found Edibles. Heck, they even had a morel look-alike (though not taste alike) mushroom called verpa on Sunday.

 

This morel look-alike is actually the verpa mushroom, which taste quite different. Foraged & Found Edibles has them for a very short time. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You also missed... wait for it... saffron! "Saffron?" you ask? Yep. Washington-grown saffron from Phocas Farms in Port Angeles. Talk about shrinking your carbon footprint -- most saffron comes from Iran. But Phocas Farms is one of a growing number of small-scale saffron producers on the North Olympic Peninsula, which is also the U.S. capitol of lavender production, growing saffron for us to enjoy with our Taylor mussels or Stokesberry chicken.

 

Washington-grown saffron from Phocas Farms in Port Angeles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You know what else you missed this past Sunday? Lettuce. Not itty-bitty little lettuce leaves as part of a salad mix, but whole heads of lettuce, straight from those wonderful guys with the greenhouses in the Port Townsend Banana Belt, Colinwood Farms.

 

Colinwood Farms in Port Townsend has the first head lettuce of the season. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

So I ask you, are you going to brave missing the market this coming Sunday? I think not. Oh, and did I mention the peanuts? You'll find them at Alvarez, too.