Sunday, April 21st: Happy Earth Day Tomorrow! Let's See What Lessons We Can Learn From Our Vendors About Respecting Mother Earth!

Oysters on the half-shell, on the beach at Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo courtesy Hama Hama Oyster Company. Happy Earth Day! Most of us have a sense about your Ballard Farmers Market helping us tread a little lighter on our Mother Earth, but today, let's take a look at many of the ways the Market's vendors teach us about living more in harmony with our environment. Take oysters from Hama Hama Oyster Company, for instance. Oyster farming in our local waters requires clean water, and as such, this industry actually encourages us to keep Puget Sound cleaner. But did you know that our environmental sins from years ago, and seemingly unrelated to water pollution, are actually threatening our beloved bivalves today? You see, all that carbon we are pumping into the atmosphere from our coal power plants, our cars and our furnaces has to come down somewhere, and a lot of it is being absorbed into our oceans, where is settles to the bottom in an acidic soup. Now, the North Pacific currents are pushing all that acidic water right up into Puget Sound and Hood Canal, where it is beginning to dissolve oyster larvae and other shelled species before they can even get settled in the mud. It is called Ocean Acidification, and we all need to learn about it, change our habits -- drive less, get more efficient cars, switch to electric heat pumps, etc. -- and we need to Stop The Coal Trains from shipping more coal to China, where it will just make matters worse. If it isn't good to burn here, we shouldn't be giving it to them to burn there!

Terry Meyer of Stoney Plains Organic Farm stands alongside garden starts. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Plant a garden with local, organic veggie starts from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Sure, we want you to visit us every Sunday all summer long for the best fresh, local produce anywhere, but if you are planning to plant your own garden, get your veggies starts here, too. That way, you'll know how they were raised, and using what kind of seed. And the more food we can grow right here in Puget Sound, the less we have to import from other parts of the country and world!

Nash's cover crop seed blend returns nutrients to your garden's soil naturally, without the need for harsh chemical fertilzers. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Skip the nitrogen chemicals in synthetic fertilizers, and enrich your soil naturally with nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Nash's Organic Produce offers a nice cover crop seed mix that you can toss about your garden to help draw the nitrogen your veggies will need right out of the air and ground. Then, when you turn it into the soil before your planting, it will breakdown, leaving all those nutrients right there in your garden to feed all your plants!

Pink Beauty radishes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One Leaf Farm will have these lovely Pink Beauty radishes today, as well as Tom Thumb & Little Gem lettuce, at your Ballard Farmers Market. Did you know that One Leaf is only in its third year of operations? Yup. We are adding farms to King County -- they are located in Carnation, for instance -- and that means less need to import. During the WTO protests in Seattle back in 1999, visiting farmers from around the world taught me that the best thing we can do to help them in their countries is to buy local food here. That's because when we buy imported produce, we are supporting a system of corporate agribusiness that takes over local farmland in other countries to grow large amounts of mono-cropped foods for the U.S. market. In the process, they force the local farmers, who are growing culturally relevant and organic foods for their local communities off of their land, resulting in lost crop diversity and food insecurity in regions of the world with very fertile farmland. So, Think Globally. Eat Locally!

Wild morel mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Eat wild foods! Before European settlers came to Puget Sound, local Indian tribes practiced a form of agriculture that would be almost invisible to us today. They managed the native, wild edible plant and animal species on a grand scale, so that come berry season, mushroom seasons or time for a clam bake, they knew right where to find dinner. In that spirit, folks like Foraged & Found Edibles today try to protect their harvesting grounds, as their livelihoods also depend on them. So enjoy some wild morel mushroomsstinging nettles or fern fiddleheads this week from your Ballard Farmers Market, and get back in touch with your wild side!

Andrew Your Knife Sharpening Guy. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Keep your knives and tools sharpened and healthy, so they last longer, all while supporting an ancient artisan trade that does not required electricity! Your Knife Sharpening Guy will put a fresh edge on your kitchen knives, garden sheers, shovels and even your reel lawnmowers, all with a zero carbon footprint. There is no need for you to buy new stuff. Your old stuff can be made new again!

Ikura from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Support your local fishery! Washington does a very good job managing its commercial fisheries. So you know, when it's caught in Washington waters, it is done so sustainably. Loki Fish catches Keta salmon, from which comes this Ikura, right here in Puget Sound. And this summer, they will also catch Pink Salmon here, too. Wilson Fish catches King Salmon along the Washington Coast. Your support of these local fishing vessels at your Ballard Farmers Market ensures their ability to keep catching the best fish around, and keep family traditions -- and wages -- alive, as well!

Wines from Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Support Puget Sound Appellation wineries, like Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery. Most folks think all the wine grapes in Washington grow east of the Cascades, but the truth is that there is a robust grape-growing region right here in Puget Sound! Lopez produces three certified-organic estate wines from their island-grown grapes, including Madeleine AngevineSiegerrebe and Wave Crest White. These wines win many awards, and we are lucky to have them right here at your Ballard Farmers Market!

Fresh kombucha from CommuniTea. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cleanse your body, rejuvenate your soul, and reuse your bottle! Communi-Tea Kombucha let's you do all three! This fermented tea beverage will give you a boost of energy, cure what ails you, and when you are ready for your next bottle, they will even take your old bottle back, wash it, and reuse it! Unfamiliar with kombucha? Try one of these handle 250 ml. bottles. This is the finest, freshest kombucha you will find anywhere!

Sunshine rings from Itali Lambertini. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Reuse your gold... or someone else's, at least. That's what Port Townsend jeweler Itali Lambertini does. Gold mining around the world is very toxic and destructive, and many of us are familiar with the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, that threatens to destroy the largest wild salmon spawning grounds left on earth -- home to more than half of the planet's remaining wild salmon. And yet, there is plenty of gold already in circulation, mined decades and even centuries ago. So why go to some generic jewelry store in a mall to get a ring made of virgin gold that is the same as a thousand other rings, when you can get a unique ring, made with recycled gold, made by a local artist, right here at your Ballard Farmers Market? I mean, it's not just the thought that counts. The materials and craftsmanship count, too!

Pea vines from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Oxbow Farm & Education Center is another King County farm, and besides bringing us amazing local veggies, like these pea vines, in season now, they also operate an educational program that teaches children and adults alike all about organic farming and its benefits, right in Duvall! Of course, supporting them also means you are keeping your dollars recirculating in our local economy, thus creating local, living-wage jobs, instead of exporting your dollars to another state or country. Your support of local jobs means that local farmers are able to support you right back, as they, too, support local businesses. You see, a rising tide floats all boats. We all succeed together... or the alternative.

Kale, zucchini & collard chips from House of the Sun. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Eat lower on the food chain! House of the Sun produces delicious, nutritious raw and vegan foods, like these awesome kale chips! They get their ingredients from Market farmers. They have a smaller carbon footprint, because they aren't heating things to cook them. Not cooking foods preserves many nutrients that can be destroyed by cooking them. And you can get your savory and sweet snack on without having to go to the Big Box store to buys some over-packaged "food" made who knows where with who knows what!

Golden Harvest Bee Ranch. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Eat local honey! Local honey, like from our own Golden Harvest Bee Ranch, supports to protection of local bees, which do a lot of the heavy lifting around here, pollinating most of the crops we know and love here at your Ballard Farmers Market. But did you know that the bees themselves are in trouble? And if they are in trouble, we are in trouble. There's a thing called Colony Collapse Disorder that has devastated honey bee populations far and wide. So remember, while supporting your local bee can help you will allergies and sweeten your tea, you should also learn more about CCD and what you can do to stop it.

Pumpkin bread from d:floured gluten-free bakery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Eat gluten-free! More and more Americans are finding they have gluten sensitivity. But that is no longer a life-sentence of really crappy baked goods. Not at your Ballard Farmers Market, at least. That's because we have d:floured gluten-free bakery, makers of all manner of sweet and savory gluten-free deliciousness that does not skimp on flavor in its pursuit of gluten-free goodies. Take this pumpkin bread, for instance. I beseech thee to find another pumpkin bread around that is better than this! Quite simply, whether or not you are avoiding gluten, you will love everything on d:floured's tables.

Julianna from Ascents Candles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Detox your home! Ascents Candles makes their candles with natural oils, not petroleum products, which means you are not filling your home with toxic fumes when you burn them. Plus, they are scented with various natural essential oils that will help set the mood, whatever mood you are aiming for. And if you're eating dinner and want no scent at all from your candles, they've got them, too. Because after all, Earth Day ultimately starts at home!

One more way to celebrate Earth Day every Sunday is to 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.