Sunday, July 7th: Boistfort Valley Farm Returns, Growing Things Farm Needs Your Help, Green Beans, Nectarines, Berries Galore & So Much More!

Carrots from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons. Okay, now it's summer, cuz our good friends from Boistfort Valley Farm have finally returned to your Ballard Farmers Market! We now have our full compliment of row crop farms, and the Market is literally bursting at the seams with incredible local produce direct from the Washington farms that grew it, and much of it far ahead of when we would normally expect to see it. Read on in today's epistle to see what I mean. Boistfort, for its part, today will be arriving with: artichokes, beets, broccoli, carrots, golden and red chard, cilantro, garlic flowers, green onionsapple mint, chives, oregano, curly and dino kale, green leaf, red oak & bibb romaine lettuce, shelling and snow peaspurple radishes, spinach and more!

Michaele Blakely from Growing Things Farm (center) with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (left) and Market Master Judy Kirkhuff at Ballard Farmers Market last summer. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Growing Things Farm, which brings all manner of deliciousness every week to your Ballard Farmers Market, from eggs to jams to chickens to fresh veggies, is asking for your help to “Raise the House.” You see, Growing Things Farm is located in a flood plain in Duvall. Many farms are. Why? Because the flood plains that line our river valleys in Western Washington are extremely fertile – made so by the forest matter and minerals that flow down from the Cascade Mountain – and  are unattractive to developers, meaning they have land still available for farming in one of the most populated counties in the nation.

A major flood in 2006 damaged the farmhouse at Growing Things Farm, rendering it uninhabitable until it can not only be repaired. See, the house cannot be torn down and rebuilt under current laws, but it can be raised above historic flood levels, and then repaired. King County has offered the farm a grant to raise the farmhouse, but not to repair the house itself. For that, the farm needs your help. The farm  launched a Kick Starter campaign to raise $20,000 to repair the house. With a little over a week left, they are two-thirds of the way to their goal. Please to go to their Kick Starter page and contribute to saving the farmhouse, and in so doing, saving the farm itself.

FreshBucks_LogoA program called Fresh Bucks has been created by a partnership between the City of Seattle and local farmers markets to double Food Stamps, now known as SNAP, at Seattle farmers markets. Beginning Sunday, July 14th, for every SNAP dollar spent at Ballard Farmers Market, SNAP benefits users can receive an additional dollar to spend on fruits & vegetables, up to 10 dollars. Get them, and more information, from at Market Information Desk at your Ballard Farmers Market. You can also get more information from the Washington State Farmers Market Association.

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

Jeremy reports that his Foraged & Found Edibles will have lots of lovely wild gray morel mushrooms today at your Ballard Farmers Market. It has been a great year for morels, and really, just about everything else, so be sure to take full advantage will you can!

Arctic Star nectarines from Tiny's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

What the...? Nectarines?!? Yes! These are Arctic Star nectarines from Tiny's Organic Produce photographed on Friday at our sister Madrona Farmers Market. I kid you not! This year really is out of control in the most delicious of ways. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, Tiny's also has begun to harvest Flavorosa pluots, too. Seriously. Wow.

Green beans from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And green beans! Yes, green beans. These are from Lyall Farms, but we've also seen them already from Magana Farms, and they have yellow wax beans, too! We may even see some hericot verts from Alvarez Organic Farms today, as well. Oh, the humanity!

Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries from Hayton Berry Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And how about this early rainbow of berries? Yes, our friends at Hayton Berry Farms are already harvesting blueberriesblackberriesraspberries and strawberries from their Skagit Delta fields, and it is only July 7th! Oh, I am liking this summer.

Fava beans from Stoney Plains Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This is a great year for fava beans. What? You’ve never eaten them? You think they’re too much work? Well, let me tell you a little secret. If you get them when they’ve got small, young, tender pods, the best way to eat them is grilled. Seriously. Just remove the stem and the string on one side, wash, slather with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and on the grill they go. Once the pods get soft, pull them off, hit them with a little nice finishing salt, and serve. You eat the whole thing, pod and all. But this is finger food. There will be one more string in them to remove. Get messy. Have fun. Eat well! You’ll find a nice big pile of these fava beans today at Stoney Plains Organic Farm.

Cherry tomatoes from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wait, what?!? Tomatoes? Westside tomatoes? We usually don't see these much before August, in a good year. And yet here they are. These gorgeous sungold and cherry tomatoes are from Colinwood Farms over in Port Townsend. But One Leaf Farm will have some sungolds today, too, for the early birds, and we've already seen a few beefsteak tomatoes from Alm Hill Gardens. If it were possible, I'd be speechless right now.

Purple Majesty new potatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Here is yet another crop we've been woe to see until weeks later in recent years: new potatoes. These beauties are new Purple Majesty potatoes from One Leaf Farm. They are so sweet at this time of year. We've also already seen them from Summer Run Farm and Colinwood. If you aren't eating fresh, local deliciousness at every meal this summer, you are truly missing out!

Perfection apricots from Martin Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Seriously. Stop already! Yes, these are Perfection apricots from Martin Family Orchards. They are two weeks earlier than their earliest arrival for which I have photographic evidence. I just checked my files. These are those big, juicy, meaty apricots that will make a delicious mess of your favorite shirt. Enjoy!

Broccoli from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Summer Run Farm is known for rocking the broccoli, and this year is no exception. And never fear warm nights on which you don't want to warm up your kitchen, roasting or steaming broccoli. This stuff grills amazingly well! Summer Run has gorgeous, massive heads of lettuce, of course, too, and lots more!

Red Haven peaches from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Oh, you're killing me! Peaches?!?  Yup! Peaches are coming in this year a week or two ahead of their historic earliest arrivals! These are Red Haven peaches from ACMA Mission Orchards. These slightly smaller early season peaches still pack a big, sweet, juicy punch you will miss come October.

Pallo Rossa radicchio from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Absolutely unbelievable! This is the earliest, by at least two weeks, we have ever had radicchio make an appearance at our markets. Until this month, it was mostly the perennial crops like berries, tree fruit and such that was way, way ahead of schedule, but now the row crops are catching up! This Pall Rossa radicchio from Oxbow Farm makes for amazing bitter salads with a nice salty treatment, like feta or bleu cheese or anchovies, and it is also great grilled. Either way, finish it off with a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar to add a nice touch of sweetness.

Raspberries from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alm Hill Gardens is known for producing a lot of delicious food, but they may be most well known for their raspberries. The farm was first and foremost a berry and flower producer before diversifying significantly over the last 15 years or so.  They have acres and acres of raspberries, some in the open air, and some under row tunnels, resulting in some of the tastiest berries you will even encounter. Sure, you can find cheaper berries at the Big Box stores, but what’s the point? I, for one, spend good money on good quality. Saving a few bucks to have something I don’t really enjoy just seems wasteful to me.

Rack of lamb, saddle of lamb and standing beef rib roasts from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now's a great time of year for grilling up some steaks and chops, or slow cooking a nice roast on the barby. Olsen Farms has lots of great lambbeef and pork raised on natural pastureland way over in Aladdin, just northeast of Colville -- so far into the northeast corner of Washington, I swear it is almost in Alberta. No farm travels farther within Washington to sell at farmers markets, and we are all the richer for their efforts.

Succulents in bloom from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I finish off this week's installment with this magnificent image of blooming succulents from Phocas Farms. It may be hot and dry, but you can still plant a succulent garden. That is, if you get to it right now. See, Phocas Farms likely won't be here after this week, as we are needing to make room for even more produce farms coming in next week. So get your succulents on today, while you can! (This just in: Phocas Farms will here through the end of July!)

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.

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.