By Erin Staley / oldtownfm.com
Last week, the Old Town Farmers’ Market-Tianguis Cultural (OTFM) said “hasta luego” to Santa Monica’s farmers’ markets. It was the first stop on our North American Farmers’ Market Tour. This week, we headed north to the land of pine trees, fresh salmon and the world famous Space Needle.
Seattle, Washington, greeted us with open arms, and we quickly “got lost” in two of her most prominent, year-round markets: the Ballard Market and the Fremont Market. We were on a mission – to immerse ourselves in what these markets call a “taste of real community” and to get ideas for our own OTFM.
With eco-friendly shopping bags in hand, we made our way to the Ballard Market. Here, they feature “unique and tasty” fruit and veggie varieties not commonly found in big box groceries. Red and yellow carrots, purple Goddess pears, Westside sweet corn, banana cantaloupe, Red Hiromi plums and Korean garlic were at the top of our shopping list. Vendors told us that this growing season has been one of the best for berries. Boy, were they right as deep red, blue and purple berries burst with juicy sweetness.
The vendors also explained the Market’s environmental efforts. Visitors are asked to bring their own shopping bags in conjunction with the city’s ban on single-use plastic bags. The Market also provides organic and plastic waste receptacles to properly dispose of trash. Furthermore, we learned that the Ballard Market has become a test market for new ideas and products. Much like our own OTFM, many farmers’ market entrepreneurs have gotten their start as vendors at this Seattle hotspot. Today, they own thriving businesses with storefronts and online stores to meet the demand for their unique products.
We continued on, eager to stock up on organic honey, cheese, natural meats, wild fish and shell fish. The flavors were out of this world, reminding us just how scrumptious locally grown ingredients can be. We pushed on, collecting all sorts of handmade keepsakes for ourselves and loved ones. To celebrate the end of our Ballard Market excursion, we toasted mini sample cups filled with Washington State wine and cider. Salud!
The Fremont Market was our next must-experience stop. Flanked by a chocolate factory and an English-style pub, this European-style market promised an unforgettable day. We chit chatted with many of the 180 vendors. They pointed out that while the Fremont Market offers typical market produce and goods, it has a bazaar-like quality. World imports, antiques, post-Columbian artifacts and estate sale treasures entice shoppers in search of great deals and “look what I found” stories. It reminded us of our OTFM where thousands of visitors are thrilled with the “make it, bake it, grow it” treasures they find every Saturday.
Exhausted by our two-day Seattle farmers’ market adventure, we couldn’t help but be a little giddy. Our notebooks were full of fresh ideas to share with our OTFM vendors and market volunteers. And while the list is long, one thing always remained at the top – to continue nurturing the sense of community between Vallarta-based producers and international shoppers.
Join us in supporting the “taste of real community” here in Puerto Vallarta. You can do this by visiting local markets and supporting the talents of Vallarta farmers, artisans and restaurants.
Stay tuned as we continue on with the North American Farmers’ Market Tour. Next stop – Vancouver Island, British Columbia. You can read all about the island’s bustling market scene in next week’s issue.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars as the Old Town Farmers’ Market-Tianguis Cultural will reopen on Saturday, November second. Located along Basilio Badillo between Olas Altas and Ignacio Vallarta, the Old Town Farmers’ Market-Tianguis Cultural is open every Saturday from 9:30 am to 2 pm from the first Saturday in November to the last Saturday in May. For more information, visit www.oldtownfm.com or “like” us on Facebook.