Scenes from Farmers Market Week 2016

Thanks to all of you who came out and joined us for another successful Farmers Market Week. Gazpacho blending, tattoo-sticking and general merry making were in full swing, with summer produce and flowers as the glorious back drop.  The photos above capture the mood and why we feel so lucky to do what we do. 

Meet the Farmer: Windy N Ranch

Bradley Newhall of Windy N Ranch.

Bradley Newhall of Windy N Ranch.

This blog post is the handiwork of SFMA summer intern Jordan Lowe, who will be contributing regularly during the growing season.  Happy Farmers Market Week!

A full inventory of the stables, paddocks, coops, and pastures of Windy N Ranch reads more like the lineup at a petting zoo than on a family-run ranch. Bradley Newhall’s family owns 800 acres outside of Ellensburg, Washington, home to 150 adult cows, 120 calves, 8 bulls, 65 sheep, 40 goats, 60 ducks, 400 laying hens, pheasants, peacocks, alpacas, horses, and milk cows. Most of the animals are raised for food, but some are for petting fun. When asked if they give any of their animals cute names, tacit, straight-talking Bradley said “No.” Understandable.

Bradley’s family has been ranching for 13 years, and for the last five he’s been right alongside, bringing their delicious meat and rich eggs to market and building partnerships on this side of the mountains. Windy N is known for its beef, but if you ask Bradley what to get, he’ll always pick the lamb. Though they have a wide variety of cuts and types of meat at the market, about 90 percent of Windy N’s business comes from direct sales of whole and half animals. State law allows them to host a butcher onsite for these direct sales, so those animals never have to leave home sweet home.

It's Windy N's first season at Madrona, and already he's making plans to partner with next-door vendor Lower Case Brewing outside the market with a Windy N food stand at Lower Case’s Georgetown Tap Room, serving burgers, sausages, and all kinds of other meaty delights straight from the ranch. In due time, Bradley might actually make that petting zoo a reality. In the long-term, he wants see Windy N construct cabins, inviting tourists and vacationers to enjoy the joys of pasture life (and maybe even get to name a pig or two).

You can find Bradley, his beautiful wooden signs, and Windy N’s meat and eggs at several farmers markets on the Eastside, but our Madrona Market on Fridays is the only place you can find them in Seattle. Come try something.

Meet the Farmer: Gaia's Harmony Farm

Gaosheng Cha. 

Gaosheng Cha. 

This blog post is the handiwork of SFMA summer intern Jordan Lowe, who will be contributing regularly during the growing season.  Happy Farmers Market Week!

There's a really good chance that Gaosheng Cha of Gaia’s Harmony Farm got up earlier than you did this morning. Though you’ll never see her donning a hat at Wallingford, Madrona, or Ballard Farmers Market, she wears several: as farmer, mother, dreamer, shaman, and aspiring permaculturalist. We can only expect the hat rack to get bigger.

Gaia’s Harmony Farm is located on 31 acres of land in Snohomish, Washington. Gaosheng’s parents bought the land in 2010, and she has been farming it ever since, a mix of beekeeping and growing berries, tomatoes, and flowers. Originally, Gaosheng brought in bees in to help pollinate the acres of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, as well as the flowers she cultivates. This year, she added hives to make infused honey. Some of the infusions, like Lemon Ginger, are inspired by Chinese medicinal recipes used by ancestral shamans in Gaosheng’s family.

Every year, Gaosheng experiments, cultivates more acres, and hones her systems. Together with her many worker bees (including daughters Delyla and Michaela), Gaosheng has cultivated just half of her acreage, with plenty left to play with. Once she gets the operation large enough, Gaosheng hopes to hire a farm manager  so she can spend more time with her honey. Her tomatoes are really hitting their stride this year after a couple seasons of experimenting and she thinks she’ll have enough to sell through Skagit County’s Puget Sound Food Hub - a farmer-owned cooperative located in Mt. Vernon.

Whether you like going to Wallingford, Madrona, or Ballard, Gaosheng will be there. Look for the beautiful spread of sun-kissed berries and tomatoes, and prismatic amber jars of honey. Find out which infusion is right for your day and take a spoon to it!




Meet the Farmers: River Run Farm

Anna Bunk of River Run Farm. 

This blog post is the handiwork of SFMA summer intern Jordan Lowe, who will be contributing regularly during the growing season. 

Walk under the River Run Farm tent at Madrona Farmers Market and the often -stifling temperature of the blacktop drops a couple degrees. Maybe it’s the luscious greens or the juicy beets, the cool confidence of Anna Bunk - co-owner of the farm - or the butter lettuce so big you could wear it as a hat. Regardless, you’ll be at ease shopping for some truly fine, eat-for-a-week-sized vegetables.

River Run Farm is located on a 40-acre plot outside of Sequim, Washington. Since 2013, Anna Bunk and Noah Bressler, along with six crew members (including Leah, whom you’ll see working the booth every other week), have cultivated the twelve acres of that land that make up River Run farm. Another group of six farmers share the 40 acres, creating a co-op of sorts. The two farms share equipment and knowledge, allowing more effort and resources to be spent on the actual farming and showing us the power of the rich, supportive farming communities that make up a healthy local food system.

Due to the farm’s unique climate and some clever crop planning, they’re able to grow cool weather vegetables, like spinach, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower all through the hot summer months. In addition to selling at Madrona and a couple other markets in Seattle and on the peninsula, River Run has a CSA and sells their vegetables wholesale to PCC and some smaller grocery stores and co-ops near the farm. In keeping with their natural, organic farming practices, Anna and Noah try to use their two draft horses as much as possible, and their animal husbandry expert, Adam, is in the midst of training two donkeys for drafting as well (in addition to caring for River Run’s two dozen cattle and handful of laying hens).

What’s in the future for River Run Farm? Anna is excited to start planting seed crops (for harvesting, saving, and selling unique, quality seeds), to grow more fruit, and to bring their first crop of quinoa to market toward the end of August. Maybe the best thing about our River Run farmers is their excitement to try new things. Every year they look forward to planning their crops and trying an experiment or two, constantly diversifying their farm and experience. And the spinach is to die for.As an all-vegetable vendor, River Run accepts Fresh Bucks for everything.


An Open Letter to the Community on the "Missing Link" Trail Project

To our neighbors, friends, vendors, and the community at large: 

As many of you already know, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has invited the public until August 1 to comment on its "Missing Link" route options to complete the Burke-Gilman Trail.  In accordance with the public comment period, the Seattle Farmers Market Association (SFMA) would like to state its position for the record. 

SFMA fully supports SDOT’s plan to complete the “Missing Link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail. A continuous route is the right and safe thing to do, and SFMA supports safety and access for all. In its Draft Environmental Impact Statement, SDOT has identified four possible routes to complete the trail: Leary Avenue, Shilshole Avenue (North), Shilshole Avenue (South), and Ballard Avenue.

Ballard Avenue, one of the four proposed routes, is also the footprint of the Ballard Farmers Market. If it were chosen as the “Missing Link” route, this is what would happen:

  • Ballard Avenue would lose 193 parking spaces in an already congested area.
  • The historic landscape of Ballard Avenue would change. As stated in the city’s report, the Ballard Avenue route “could have impacts on features that contribute to the historic significance of the Ballard Avenue Historic District.”
  • The Ballard Farmers Market would have to close for several months during construction.
  • The design of the trail and changes to the sidewalk would narrow Ballard Avenue, significantly reducing the space for the Ballard Famers Market to operate -- that is, if the Ballard Farmers Market could return to Ballard Avenue. The market could be relocated and permanently shut down. The Ballard Farmers Market is home to 140 small businesses. Together, with the 93 businesses along Ballard Avenue, that’s a total of more than 220 family businesses that contribute to the local economy and that make Ballard the jewel that it is.  

In addition to the year-round Ballard Farmers Market, SFMA operates two seasonal farmers markets in Madrona and Wallingford. Now in its 16th year, Ballard Farmers Market moved to historic Ballard Avenue in 2003 and has become a beloved fixture of Ballard for both Seattle residents and out-of-town tourists alike.

On average, more than 14,000 people come to Ballard Farmers Market every Sunday; annually, attendance is more than half a million. As stated earlier, the market is home to more than 140 small business owners, a combination of Washington state farmers, food processors, prepared food companies and artisans, who together employ more than 400 people contributing to the regional economy. Last year, these vendors earned a combined $4.5 million in sales.

For every dollar spent at the Ballard Farmers Market, it has a multiplier effect of 1.75 times (an average around the country calculated by the USDA). This means that the same dollar, spent at the farmers market, stays in the community an average of 1.75 times. It also translates into 1.75 jobs, additional to the farmer job, is supported by every purchase at the market.

In 2015, Ballard Farmers Market donated 25,000 pounds of food to the Ballard Food Bank, the equivalent of $65,000.

EBT sales for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants was $22,000.  Low-income residents receiving SNAP/food stamp benefits redeemed an additional $17,000 in Fresh Bucks, a program that matches $10 for fresh produce purchases.

To reiterate, SFMA fully supports one continuous Burke-Gilman Trail, and the access and safety for all that use it, as well as improving predictability for motor vehicles that use the roads. We respectfully request that SDOT consider the potentially devastating toll on Ballard’s small business community – and its residents -- that would result with the Ballard Avenue trail option. 

Thank you for the consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Doug Farr

General Manager, Seattle Farmers Market Association


Meet the Farmers: Seattle Youth Garden Works

Susan and Choega of Seattle Youth Garden Works. Photo: Jordan Lowe.

Susan and Choega of Seattle Youth Garden Works. Photo: Jordan Lowe.

This blog post is the handiwork of SFMA summer intern Jordan Lowe, who will be contributing regularly during the growing season. 

You can find two of the biggest smiles at Wallingford Farmers Market (and possibly for miles) at the Seattle Youth Garden Works vegetable stand. There you'll meet Susan G. (also known as "Suez") and Choega ThundrupSYGW veterans of five and six years, respectively.  A program of Seattle Tilth, SYGW hires youth (ages 16 to 21) to work all aspects of running an urban farm --  from crop planning to market sales. These young people -- many who have come out of homelessness, the foster care system, and the juvenile justice system -- are paid to learn how to grow, harvest, and sell their crops in a professional environment where they have room for advancement and opportunities to build their resumes and leadership skills.

The greens, herbs, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, and other produce that make their way to Wallingford Farmers Market are grown on a half-acre plot at the Center for Urban Horticulture in University Village owned by the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. There, SYGW use a combination of raised beds, greenhouse and hoop house to cultivate their produce. Construction is breaking ground in the coming weeks at Seattle Tilth’s Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands to make room for more vegetables, education, and youth development in 2017.

When you buy a bunch of carrots from Seattle Youth Garden Works, you’re certainly getting a handful of fresh, flavorful, juicy vegetables, packed with vitamins and minerals. But they’re actually packed with much more than that. Although it’s difficult to describe the flavor profile of youth development and true urban agriculture, we know they’ll leave a good taste in your mouth. (Bonus: they accept Fresh Bucks for everything on the table.)

Trail Project Could Threaten Historic Ballard Avenue

The four proposed Missing Link routes to complete the Burke-Gilman Trail.  Source: Seattle Department of Transportation.

The four proposed Missing Link routes to complete the Burke-Gilman Trail.  Source: Seattle Department of Transportation.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) recently released its plans to complete the Burke-Gilman Trail. The popular and well-traveled bike and walking trail consists of two segments, with a “missing link” in Ballard. To make the trail one continuous route, SDOT proposes four possible routes through Ballard, as illustrated in the map, above.

The four routes up for consideration are:

  • Shilshole Ave (South Side)
  • Shilshole Avenue (North Side)
  • Ballard Avenue
  • Leary Avenue

If Ballard Avenue were to become the “missing link” route, the BG Trail would run through the Ballard Avenue Landmark District. It would directly impact the small businesses along Ballard Avenue and it would threaten the future of the Ballard Farmers Market, now in its 16th year.

But here’s the thing: Time is of the essence. The public comment period ends August 1.

Here's What You Can Do

  • Come to Ballard Farmers Market on Sunday, July 3 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) to learn more about the proposed “missing link” routes.  SFMA staff will have an information table set up with pamphlets and postcards addressed to SDOT Director Scott Kubly, so that your voice is heard. (If you’re out of town for the long holiday weekend, stop by next Sunday, July 10, when we’ll continue spreading the word.)
  • Contact SDOT directly: Email:  Or via USPS:

Scott Kubly, Director 

Seattle Department of Transportation 

c/o Mark Mazzola, Environmental Manager

P.O. Box 34996

Seattle, WA, 98124-4996

  • Contact Seattle City Council

Mike O’Brien: He represents District 6, which includes Ballard.

Lorena Gonzalez and Tim Burgess, the two at-large Councilmembers, representing the entire city





A Declaration of (Food) Independence



Note: This post originally ran a year ago. We've updated it with new vendor info and menu ideas. 

We the people, in order to form a more perfect union at the picnic table, inevitably scramble to stock up on the mustard, ketchup, relish, chips and buns for our myriad Independence Day celebrations. But in that mad rush to the big box store leading up to the holiday weekend, we often miss what is just under our noses -- locally grown, raised and sourced ingredients from nearby farms. 

If you’re looking for proof of Made in the USA, it's hard to beat the farmers market, where you can have a conversation with the very people who made sure your favorite foods were watered, fed and truly looked after.  No one loves our land and sea more than our farmers, fishers, ranchers and producers. They are true patriots. By shopping at the farmers market, we don't just help local growers pay the bills; we show our love of country, too.  

So in the spirit of independence (from the industrial food system), we've sketched together a shopping list to help you plan a locally-sourced Fourth of July Feast, featuring SFMA vendors at Madrona and Ballard. (Please note: This is a guide; not all vendors come to all SFMA markets.)  

A very happy and safe Independence Day to you from all of us at SFMA!

Burgers: Skagit River Ranch, Olsen Farms, Windy n Ranch

Like cheese on top of that burger? The Washington Jack from Mt. Townsend Creamery or the Mont Blanchard Cheddar from Samish Bay could do the trick.

Condiments + Fixins:

  • Pickled Peppers Bonnie B's Peppers
  • Fresh bulb onions: Alvarez, Stoney Plains Organic Farm
  • Lettuce:  One Leaf Farm, River Run Farm
  • Kraut + Pickles: Britt's Pickles, Iggy's AIive & Cultured

Buns: Tall Grass Bakery

Franks and Sausages: Gray Sky Farm, Olsen Farms, Skagit River Ranch, Seaview Farm, Stokesberry Farm

Beans for the baked beans: Alvarez, Kirsop, Nash's Organic Produce

Cabbage for the slaw: Kirsop Farm, Nash's Organic Produce

Sweet corn on the cob: Lyall Farms

Veggie kebabs: Mushrooms from Sno-Valley; Zucchini from Colinwood Farm

Beverages, leaded and non

  • Beer: Lowercase Brewing, Propolis Brewing Hard cider: Finnriver; Wine: Wilridge, Upsidedown,  
  • Soda: No high-fructose corn syrup here. Make your own with a shrub from Sweet Caroline's, or pick up a bottle of ginger beer from Timber City or a growler of hand-crafted soda from Soda Jerk Soda

All-American cobbler for dessert: Cherries from Lyall Farms, Collins Family Orchards, Martin Family Orchard; Berries from Sidhu Farm, Hayton Farms, Gaia’s Harmony, Growing Washington