Sunday, December 2nd: 'Tis The Holiday Season At Your Ballard Farmers Market!

Fresh holiday wreathes from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons. Hey kids, it's December! Allow me to be the 187th person to wish you Happy Holidays! We're past Thanksgiving already, and the college football season is over. Heck, Chanukah begins next Saturday night at sundown. We are deep in it, folks. Look, it's been some crazy times over the last year in our community, our nation, our planet. Yet, we're still here. How's about we take a step back, do some reflecting, and make this time of year a little extra special this year. I don't mean go to the mall and buy your sweetie that jewelry or perfume you saw on TV that 1,263,982 other people are going to buy for their sweeties this year. I mean, how friggin' special a gift is that? Besides, you've been carrying on about how Bain Capital or the Obama Administration have been killing American jobs for the last 12 months, right? Well, why don't you do something about it, while at the same time getting your loved ones something special this year -- something unique -- which will, of course, make them feel special, too. It's easy. Just head on down to your Ballard Farmers Market and visit any of our vendors. Everything you'll find is unique, special, and locally produced by them. That means you'll be directly supporting good American jobs while getting something special. Pretty cool, huh? Why not start with one of these lovely holiday wreathes from our friends at Alm Hill Gardens. They are made carefully, by hand, from things growing on the farm up in Everson. Good luck getting the guys at the Big Box store to tell you what farm their wreathes and trees came from. Here, you're getting them directly from the farmers!

Gingerbread from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Nothing says the holidays like luscious holiday breads, right? Their smell, their appearance and their flavor accent the season like few other things. Sometimes, I think we've gotten so absorbed in our technology that we forget the power of our senses and our experiences. I look at this gorgeous loaf of gingerbread from Tall Grass Bakery, though, and I can just smell it... and my mind fills with memories and fond associations. That December it snowed so much. A party with friends, candles, a pot of warm glüg, and festive music on a cold, wet, blustery night. Ah. Work can wait until January.

Knitted scarves from Gypsy Beaded Creations. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Like I was saying before, what you will find at your Ballard Farmers Market is produced by the people selling it. Like these beautiful knitted scarves from Gypsy Beaded Creations. In fact, you'll likely find Corrine knitting her next work of wearable art right at the Market. You won't get much more unique a gift than this, and it'll come with an actual, local face behind it -- someone you know you supported with your holiday gift-giving dollars. And your loved ones will look fabulous and stay warm and cozy, too!

Canned local albacore tuna in a variety of flavors from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

When I was editing photos for this week's post, it pleased me to find this one. It is so colorful, isn't it? Like a brilliant string of festive lights or old-fashioned glass ornaments. And yet, what it is is (I think I just had a Bill Clinton flashback) canned local albacore tuna in many flavors from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Yup, it is time for their monthly visit to your Ballard Farmers Market today. And you'll want plenty of their tunaliciousness around for the holidays. Not just the canned stuff, but frozen sashimi grade tuna loinstuna loxsmoked tuna and more! Mmm. I just had some for dinner. And remember, canned tuna makes a great stocking stuffer!

Goat milk soap from Harmony's Way. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Do you have sensitive skin? Does someone you love? Goat milk soap is incredible gentle on your skin -- luxurious, I dare say. It is creamy and mild, and just plain lovely. Lucky us, we actually have a local goat dairy making us these beautiful bars of goat milk soap from the milk of their own goats right here at your Ballard Farmers Market. Harmony's Way hails from over in Chimacum, on the Olympic Peninsula, just south of Port Townsend. They make their soaps in a variety of scents, shapes and sizes, and you can even get it plain, if you like. If yours is a family that already puts nice soaps in each others stockings, why not get some made locally, direct not only from the soap maker, but from the soap farmer!

Piñata apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You know, some folks even put apples in each others stockings. Funny that. But hey, don't you associate apples with the holidays? You bake them, sauce them, make pies and crisps with them. And why not? They are our dominant local fruit this time of year. Still, when it comes to festive, you really can't ask for an apple that just sounds more like a party waiting to happen than these piñata apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. Just don't go hanging them from a low-hanging branch and swinging a big stick at them blindfolded. Instead of a shower of candy, you're gonna get covered with little, moist bits of apple pulp.

Ornamental gourds from Boistfort Valley Farm.Decorative faceplates for your electrical outlets and switches from Dimensional  Colors. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okay, ornamental gourds from Boistfort Valley Farm do not make good stocking stuffers, regardless of the fact that they will fit nicely into most stockings. Still, they do make for a lovely, decorative addition to your holiday decking of the halls. Just don't try to eat them. Unlike their winter squash cousins, this gourds ain't for eating, and you'll probably break your knife or cut off a finger trying to cut them open anyway. Instead, surround some candles with them on your dinner table, add them to your mantle, or arrange them with some other fun decorations on an end or coffee table.

Seasoned salts from Rockridge Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Here's a great stocking stuffer for the foodie in your life, and if you are shopping at your Ballard Farmers Market, you are bound to have a foodie or three in your life. These are seasoned salts from Rockridge Orchards. They've got them seasoned with all different sorts of things, from herbs and spices to local applewood smoke. Of course, we won't tell anyone if you realize that the foodie in your life is actually you, and you just buy them for yourself. Heck, take them home, wrap them up and put them in your own stocking, and then watch how confused it will make the rest of the family!

Cirrus Wood from Coal-Free Washington. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cirrus Wood from Coal-Free Washington created a photo essay at your Ballard Farmers Market last week of vendors against huge coal trains coming through Ballard and local farmlands carrying coal from Montana and Wyoming to coastal ports for shipping to China. You can see his photo essay, and learn more about the issue, on their Facebook page.

Please remember bring your own bags every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.