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.
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.
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 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.)
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.
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!
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.
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.