Farmers Market Season Approaches

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As chair of the City Council’s Committee on Economic Resiliency and Regional Relations I get to advocate for farmers markets across Seattle and the multiple benefits they bring – neighbor-to-neighbor social action in neighborhoods once a week, a sales outlet for farmers east and west of the mountains, opportunities for “value added” products like cheese, smoked fish, pasta and bread, spin-off activity in neighboring businesses and more.

Most people already know that Seattle’s farmers markets are a great source of fresh, regionally produced farm products and you know you get to run into friends and neighbors (hopefully the same people).  Recently we spoke at committee with farmers market operators about the not-so-evident impact when it comes to helping low-income residents to get more bang for their buck through “Fresh Bucks.” The program doubles the value of “food stamps” when food assistance dollars are spent at Seattle farmers markets. 

Last year almost one million shopper visits sent more than $13 million dollars into Seattle farmers markets. In honor of the seasonal farmers markets opening up, here’s a short list of my favorite things to buy at our markets:

5. Quesadillas at the Patty Pan Grill (University District, Ballard, Broadway).  These things are packed with fresh, seasonal vegetables and completely delicious.  They make them on the spot and, although the line is long, the service is fast.

4.  Greens  (Everywhere).  I do OK growing lettuce and dark leafy greens in my garden at home, but I end up with gaps because I don’t pay enough attention to re-seeding. More greens!

3.  Apple cider (hard and otherwise). Rockridge Orchards ends up being a great provider. Great flavors and they helped out when Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and I did “Cider with Sallys” at the West Seattle Market a couple of seasons ago.

2. Hazelnuts and berries (Pike Place Market Express). In the summer Pike Place Market opens up a satellite market on City Hall’s Fourth Ave. Plaza. Afternoon snacks and dinner provisions!

1.  Sour Cherry Pumpernickel from Tall Grass Bakery (many locations, check the link).  OK, I’m “generally” following the weird Primal/Paleo rules (except for the cake at the Fremont Neighborhood Council meeting last night – thanks), but if our pre-grain-cultivation selves had tasted the sour cherry pumpernickel from Tall Grass, there’d be a special allowance in the Paleo diet rules. Pick up a sharp cheese (I know, not Paleo) from a neighboring stand and you need nothing more to find the real bliss point.

We’re lucky to have the granddaddy of all markets, Pike Place Market, and to have both the U-District and West Seattle markets functioning year-round. Celebrate spring, support a local farmer, see your neighbors and do your diet good by visiting these markets and the array of markets about to open (Broadway fired up last weekend). Here’s a list of Seattle farmers market schedules. Happy shopping!

Ballard (Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., year round)

Broadway (Sundays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. – opens April 21)

Columbia City (Wednesdays, 3 p.m.-7 p.m. opens May 1)

Fremont (Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., year round)

Lake City (Thursdays, 2:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. – opens June 20)

Madrona (Fridays, 3 p.m.-7 pm, opens May 17)

Magnolia (Saturdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. – opens June 1)

Phinney (Fridays, 3 p.m.-7 p.m. – opens June 7, 2013)

Pike Place Market (every day, year-round)

Queen Anne Farmer’s Market (Thursdays, 3 p.m.-7 p.m., opens June 6)

University District (Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round)

Wallingford (Wednesdays, 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m., opens May 29)  

West Seattle (Sundays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round)