By ANA SOFIA KNAUF
UW News Lab
Seattle Farmer’s Market vendors make their weekly trip to the University District every Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. In the south parking lot of the University Heights Center for the Community, a group of over 50 Washington farmers sell fresh produce, meats, and cheese.
The U-District market was the first farmer’s market in Seattle and was established as a year-round market in 1993 by Chris Curtis, the Neighborhood Farmer’s Market Alliance director and a group of volunteers. According to the NFMA website, the U-District branch is the “oldest and largest ‘farmers-only’ neighborhood market.”
A good way to ease oneself into the farmer’s market atmosphere is to snack on a fresh Honeycrisp apple or grab a bite to eat from one of the weekly vendors in the Market Bites section of the lot. Pre-made plates can be bought there with selections ranging from Indian Naan or tamales to crepes or ice cream from Whidbey Island.
After satisfying grumbling stomachs, begin exploring what the market has to offer. Brace yourself; there is going to be a lot between picking out produce and coming to terms with farmer’s market pricing.
For those new to the locally grown scene, shopping at farmer’s markets can be a bit intimidating because of prices of fresh, organic foods.
“People are usually thinking it is expensive, but what you can do is to walk around and compare prices,” said Thea Preuss, a market volunteer.
So as not to have the wits scared out of them, new visitors (and perhaps UW students looking for a break from dorm fare) should avoid looking at products like foraged chanterelle mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns, each of which can easily be over $20/lb. Instead, try visiting vendors that sell everyday products like apples and salad mixes. Often, bulk mixes of arugula, lettuces, and spinach sell or about the same price as (or slightly more expensive than) supermarket boxed greens. Apples (at about a dollar each) are more costly than their grocery store counterparts, but make up for the price with their fresh flavor. During the average weekend, over 2500 visits come through the market.
However, with peak season approaching for Washington farmer’s markets, shoppers can expect grounds to become more crowded. According to one NFMA staff member, during the summer, the U-District site has about 3500 visitors.
According to Curtis, as a result of the rising Seattle temperatures, summer fruits and vegetables like strawberries, blackberries, asparagus, and greens will be making their debut at the U-District farmer’s market in the next few weeks.
All seven of the farmer’s market venues accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT). For more information about using EBT or food stamps at the markets or to find a location nearest to you, please visit www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org.