Sunday, August 7th: Happy National Farmers Market Weeks! Seattle Weekly Names Ballard Best Of Seattle 2011! Vote For Us Now In America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest!

Can you imagine a Sunday without your Ballard Farmers Market? Neither can I. Ballard Farmers Market is our Sunday grocery store for all things local and delicious -- indeed, the best local food in the nation. It is our town square, fun for the entire family, full of great entertainment and great people watching, and the foundation of one of the healthiest and happiest local neighborhoods in Seattle. And, according to the readers and editors of the Seattle Weekly, Ballard Farmers Market is the Best Farmers Market of 2011! Thank you, Ballard Farmers Market faithful & Seattle Weekly editors! Now, let's show the entire nation who's best. Please take 30 seconds to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in the 2011 America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest. Do it for Seattle. Do it for Ballard. Do it to thank and honor all the farmers, ranchers, fishers, food artisans, crafters, prepared food vendors, buskers and market staff that work tirelessly to make Ballard Farmers Market happen for you to enjoy every Sunday, year-round, come rain, sun, wind or snow. But above all, please do it now!

This is what broccoli looks like when it is still growing in the field. I bet a lot of all y'all had no idea, eh? I mean, you knew already that milk does not come from a carton, but from a cow, because Ballard Farmers Market shoppers are savvier than the average Big Box store shopper, but unless you've actually seen broccoli in the field, there really is no reason you'd ever picture it looking like this, right? Of course, looking at it this way, you can see how it is related to kale, right? Well, this magnificent specimen was captured during my recent visit to Alm Hill Gardens. One of my favorite parts of this job is that I get to visit many of the farms at the Market. Then I get to share what I've learned with you! Okay, have you voted for Ballard Farmers Market yet?

Is this not some of the most spectacular sunburst squash you have ever seen? Of course, everything Summer Run brings to Market always looks this perfect, so I suppose if you are a regular of theirs, this won't amaze you so much, but hey, it still should. I mean, did you know that there are markets in Arkansas and Texas that are ahead of Ballard in the voting for the 2011 America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest? Not because their markets are better than ours, but because their fans are, so far, better at voting for them. Nothing against Arkansas and Texas, but do you really think their markets could be better? We may have had a cold, wet, gray year, but they're in a drought with 100+ temps for the last month. Nothing is growing there right now. 3,000 people will read this blog this week. If all of you vote for Ballard Farmers Market, we will be in first place. And if you don't, we won't. It's as simple as that. Please, take the 30 seconds and vote now. Do it for us, if not for you. Thanks!

Celery is a staple of most American households. And yet few Market farmers grow it, as it is a squirrelly, and distinctly unsexy, crop. But Boistfort Valley Farm has some of the sexiest celery you will ever meet! Crisp, fresh, refreshing, nutritious and delicious. You know, it is National Farmers Market this week! Celebrate with celery!!! And while you are at it, celebrate by voting for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2011 America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest. Why? Because the poor saps in the rest of the country don't have access to this magnificent celery. Oh, and please tell your friends!

We know you love your pooch. We do, too. Indeed, while other markets make you leave your canine family members at home, we welcome them. However, we do ask that your keep your dog on a short leash, and always keep them under your control. Your Ballard Farmers Market is a busy place with lots of people young and old, lots of other dogs, and lots of food. It is your responsibility to look after your dog, for your dog's safety and happiness, and for the safety and happiness of everyone else. And please, if your dog is getting stressed out by the Market, please take your dog away from the Market. It will be happier for it, and you won't run the risk of something undesirable happening. Thank you.

Flavor supreme pluots from Tiny's Organic Produce are sweet and juicy, and quite beautiful, too, don't you think? Okay, it's remedial "what the heck is a pluot" time. See, pluots are a hybridized cross between plums and apricots, favoring the plum genetically. They are sorta 70/30 plum-to-apricot. But essentially, they express the best quality of both fruits. Lesson over. Let's just eat some!

Ah, spud nuts from Growing Things Farm. Quite patriotic, don't you think? These little guys cook up quick and sweet, dropped into a chowder, tossed in a sauté pan or in a foil pouch with butter on the grill. The largest of these baby potatoes in the photo above are maybe the diameter of a quarter.

Cherry tomato deliciousness from Oxbow Farm! Throw 'em in salads. Poach them in olive oil. Make a quick pasta sauce with them. Or, if you're like me, just devour them like candy right out of the container, probably before you even get them home. Hmm. Better get two or three containers, then, eh?

Salsa. As fun to dance and to eat as it is to say. And now that it is tomatillos season at Alvarez Organic Farms, we can enjoy big bowls of green salsa to our hearts' content. I am just picturing sitting on my back deck on a warm summer evening with a cold beverage, a bag of tortilla chips, and a bowl of freshly made tomatillos salsa. Yes, we earned this wonderful bit of summer that is finally upon us. Soak it up. Who knows how long it will take for it to come around again once it's gone.

These white flesh nectarines from ACMA Mission Orchards are among the sweetest of all stone fruits. Seriously. Eat them off right off the pit, grill them, dehydrate them, put them in salads. But enjoy them, by all means!

Our cool weather means some of the sweetest crops in years, across the board, and nowhere is this more evident than in this year's belated carrot crop. Full Circle Farm has carrots of every shade, and seemingly every flavor, too, as each variety does have its own distinct flavor. I know carrots seem rather common, but hey, how many things do you enjoy more than a sweet, crunchy, fresh carrot?

Seems like it is high time for a watermelon seed spitting contest, am I right people? And a good place to start is with one, or three, of these sugar baby watermelons from Lyall Farms. Just imagine your face covered in watermelon juice. And your shirt. Oh, life is good!

I love the bright green center peeking out of this spectacular head of red oakleaf lettuce from Colinwood Farms. And this lettuce is more than just a pretty face. It'll add crisp, refreshing deliciousness to your salads and sandwiches, and whatever else you might use it with.

Vans cherries are without a doubt my favorite cherry. They are a late-season cherry with a deep, dark color and flavor. I might venture to say they offer the quintessential cherry flavor, in fact. Collins Family Orchards has some of them now, though not many, so do get there early if you want to enjoy a true summer treat you will not find at the Big Box stores, where they have only ever heard of bings and rainiers.

Flowering cilantro, a.k.a., coriander, is in season briefly now at Stoney Plains. Did you know that coriander and cilantro are the same thing? Yep. The leafy greens are dramatically different in flavor from the seeds, of course. And for a yet third experience with this wonderful plant, enjoy the flowering version, too. It is related to dill and fennel, which you likely already know as plants that can be used in many different ways, from root to seed to flowers to leaves.

I'm thinking I should get me some of these baby globe artichokes from Nash's Organic Produce, slice them in half and trim them, then grill them along a nice steak, eh? But hey, you can do with them what you will! Whatever you do with them, please don't forget to vote for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2011 America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest. I mean, do you think those folks in Arkansas and Texas have a market anything like ours? Heck, no. Vote!

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. And please remember to vote for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2011 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest!