Sunday, July 14th: Sweet Corn, New Apples, Heirloom Tomatoes, Pickling Cucumbers, Salmon, Oysters & Ballard Seafood Fest!

Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons. Happy 2013 Ballard Seafood Fest! And have you seen this year's logo, or mascot, or whatever it is? I guess its some sort of fishmonger superhero, but it was kinda lost on me. So I decided to use these Viking purple potatoes instead! This is the new crop of them from that sturdy Scandinavian family at Olsen Farms, which makes them even more fitting, and they'd be lovely steamed and mashed with some good butter alongside a nice serving of lutefisk, or maybe some salmon. Here are a few tips for managing your trip today to your Ballard Farmers Market:

  • If you are planning to shop at the farmers market and then attend Seafood Fest, bring a good cooler and plenty of ice or gel packs, and if driving, park in the shade if you can.
  • Don't store items like berries and salad greens in a hot car, and avoid putting berries, peaches, corn and tomatoes in your cooler, as cold hurts them.
  • If you are just going to shop at the farmers market, we recommend you get here before noon to avoid Seafood Fest crowds and associated parking hassles.
  • Try to walk, ride your bike or take the bus today, as parking will be challenging.
  • Remember that Market Street is closed from 20th to 24th, 22nd is closed from Shilshole to 57th & Ballard Ave is closed from Vernon Place to Market.
  • If spending the whole day, remember to keep hydrated.
  • Pack your patience and enjoy the day. The forecast is for perfect weather!

By the way, we want to give one more plug for the Growing Things Farm Kick Starter campaign. While they have reached their minimum goal of $20,000 to frame out the house once raised above the floodline, they would like to raise another $10,000 so that they can install the plumbing, electrical and insulation, in order to make the farmhouse truly livable.

Sweet corn from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For the love of Mike, is that sweet corn? Yup. The earliest we’ve ever seen it here. This bi-colored sweet corn is from Lyall Farms. They just started harvesting it this week. In fact, just so you know I’m not pulling your leg, I took this photo on Friday at our sister Madrona Farmers Market. And this stuff is suh-weeeet!

Lodi apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And speaking of absurdly early crops, we usually don’t see these Lodi apples until the first week of August! Really. Lodi apples are usually the first apple of the year, with a crisp bite and a tart flavor. So start keeping that doctor away today!

Paul Robeson heirloom tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wow. The crops just keep coming in earlier than ever this year. This is the earliest, by two weeks, that we’ve ever seen heirloom tomatoes arrive. One Leaf Farm grows these Paul Robeson tomatoes just over in Carnation, in East King County. They just started harvesting them, so they’ll go fast. Get here early!

Fresh Bucks program starts today at Ballard Farmers Market!

A 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 TODAY, 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 at the Vernon Place end of the Market. You can also get more information from the Washington State Farmers Market Association. Tell your friends, family and neighbors!

Fresh whole Alaskan sockeye salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Since it is Seafood Fest, we really should talk about all the great seafood you can find at your Ballard Farmers Market, right? Especially right now! For instance, Loki Fish has all five species of Pacific salmon fresh right now, from their boats fishing in Alaska. Above is whole sockeye salmon. Yeah, baby!

Cauliflower from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Summer Run Farm has these gorgeous heads of cauliflower right now. I've been roasting it in the oven lately, tossed with some olive oil, salt, pepper and crushed cayenne. Set the oven at about 425, and cook until just tender, and maybe a little browned on top. You can grill it, too!

Vans cherries from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We’ve heard plenty of talk about smaller cherry harvests and higher cherry prices in the news lately, but truth be told, that’s not what we’re seeing at your Ballard Farmers Market. That’s because our farmers grow specifically for you, and they grow a diversity of cherry varieties, which helps them insure against early freezes and heavy rains. See, the big orchards that grow for the warehouses that sell to the Big Box stores, China and Japan just grow a couple of preferred cherries, like Bings and Rainiers, and when those two crops are impacted, it drives the price up at the Big Box stores. But farms like Collins Family Orchards from Selah are growing just for us, so the price they charge isn’t affected by demand from Japan. Plus, they grow outstanding varieties unaffected by the commodities market, like these Vans cherries, which for my money are the cherry’s cherry – a rich, dark, deeply flavored cherry that is not too sweet or too mild.

Fennel bulb from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Boistfort Valley Farm returned to your Ballard Farmers Market last week with their usual compliment of stunning produce. Like this fennel bulb, which is great caramelized and served atop some pork, or pickled, and it is awesome grilled, too! It has a sweet, licorice flavor. And you can eat it raw on your salads, fronds and all. Clean it thoroughly, though, like a leek.

Fresh red king salmon from Wilson Fish.Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

More seafood! This wild king salmon was caught by Wilson Fish just off the coast of Washington. It is so fresh, they like to say it is from the future. It is at least safe to say that you won't find it fresher unless you catch it yourself. They also have some coho salmonhalibut and amazing smoked king salmon now, too!

Certified organic blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Whitehorse Meadows Farm returns today with their amazing certified organic blueberries grown up in North Snohomish County. Their blueberry varieties range from domesticated to almost still wild, and you'll enjoy comparing their different berries across the season.

Stunning succulents from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I made a mistake last week when I told you that Phocas Farms would not be back this week. I errantly understood that we needed their space for one of our returning seasonal farmers, but I was wrong. Hmm. I think that means I will only be wrong another two times this year, if averages hold up. But I digress. Phocas Farms is here today with lots of gorgeous succulents -- they raise over 200 varieties -- and in another week or two, they will actually have some saffron crocus corms.

Pickling cucumbers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Here is another earliest ever arrival: pickling cucumbers from Alvarez Organic Farms. This year is just plain dizzying, I tell you. And they also have lots of onionsgarlic and summer squash, the latter in more than a dozen varieties now!

Live oysters from Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And more seafood! How about some live oysters from the Hama Hama Oyster Company? These are great for grilling or shucking, and if you grill them, Hama Hama has some amazing chipotle butter to put on them. They also have plenty of shucked oysters for frying and shooters, as well as pickled and smoked oysterslive clams and mussels and more!

Red romaine lettuce from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And I know that finishing off this week's Seafood Fest epistle with lettuce might seem a bit out of sorts, but hey, this is red romaine lettuce from Colinwood Farms. These heads of lettuce are big enough that the Vikings could have used the leaves to cross the Atlantic! This crisp, sweet lettuce is great for salads, lettuce wraps, and it is even good for grilling! (Cuz you Vikings need your roughage, but you sure aren't gonna be caught dead eating a salad.)

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.