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It's like a fair every week | Kitsap Week
For the first time, you’re tasting ice cream made from Icelandic skyr and you’ve fallen in love. Now, the scent of tamales is teasing you (got to get some of those. Ooh, fresh salsa too). The live music reminds you of James Taylor in 1985 at Irvine Meadows. You’re singing along as you browse, “Well, I’m a steamroller, baby, I’m bound to roll all over you,” when you’re steamrolled by other visual and taste sensations.
You might have errands to run this afternoon, but this morning is all sunshine and art and flowers and food. You bump into friends you haven’t seen in a while and chat. “It’s like having a fair every week,” artisan Paula Strid said.
Ahh, it’s Farmers Market season.
There are farmers markets in Bainbridge, Bremerton, Kingston, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Silverdale, Suquamish and, to an extent, Port Gamble (more on that in a minute).
Historically, farmers markets have been community gathering places and showcases for locally grown and locally made products. Kitsap’s farmers markets are all that and more — they’ve become incubators for emerging businesses as well as centers of learning, where you can take classes on cooking, creating and growing.
All that, combined with efforts to “buy local” and eat foods grown close to home, have made farmers markets increasingly successful and compelled them to expand their seasons.
“We had 70 vendors last year and we’re hoping for that many and more,” said Strid, president of the Poulsbo Farmers Market Association. This year’s features include a Mother’s Day Weekend broadcast on KMPS 94.1, chef demonstrations beginning in June, and the return of Market U, a series of classes on various culinary topics.
The Poulsbo market placed a close second in voting for Farmers Market of the Year in the state in 2011, and it’s attracting vendors from an increasingly larger swath of western Washington. A shellfish vendor from Port Townsend will be selling clams, clam chowder, crabs and oysters here this year. Jose’s Famous Salsa, from Sequim, will be selling salsa, guacamole and tamales. Clark Farms brings 100 percent grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork and poultry from Sequim.
“We have fish, chicken, meat, handmade knitted items, handmade children’s clothing, jewelry, furniture — all sorts of things,” Strid said. “All of our favorites are returning.”
The hours and locations of the farmers markets are located below this story. There are midweek markets, weekend markets, winter markets and one year-round market.
The Bainbridge Farmers Market is known for its arts and crafts, farm products, plants and flowers, and specialty foods.
The Bremerton Farmers Market started as a small gathering of local farmers and crafters in the courtyard of the old Cafe Destino in 2004. By 2008, it grew to 30 vendors, added live music and began accepting coupons from the Women/Infants/Children and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition programs. The market moved to Evergreen Park in 2009 and added a Sunday market in 2011.
The Kingston Farmers Market is located on a beautiful, grassy lawn at Mike Wallace Park at the Port of Kingston Marina, near the walk-off ramp of the Edmonds-Kingston ferry. The market is known for its handmade arts and crafts, baked goods, fruits and vegetables, honey, jams, pickles, and freshly prepared coffee. There are special events almost every weekend.
Every year, the market asks art teachers at local elementary schools to have students make market-related art; a few pieces are selected to be made into postcards, available at the market.
The Port Orchard Farmers Market was established in 1978 “to help preserve the agricultural identity and quality of rural life by providing a place for our local farmers to market their produce and farm products to the communities of the Kitsap Peninsula.”
The market is located on the downtown Port Orchard waterfront (you can walk, bike, bus or drive, or take the passenger ferry from Bremerton). Vendors offer arts and crafts, fish, flowers, foods and produce — rain or shine. All non-farm vendors are Kitsap County residents and most of the farmers are too.
Master Gardeners offer free gardening advice clinics. There are activities for children, live music, demonstrations, and presentations by non-profits, community service organizations and local schools.
The Suquamish Farmers Market fills a need in its community — it’s located seven miles distance to any full-service grocery store, so it’s a walkable way to pick up food, flowers, handmade clothing and gifts.
Among the features of the market: Wyckels Farm’s heirloom vegetables; Made In Manette’s aprons, clothespin bags, felted pot holders, knits, soaps, tea cozies and wash cloths; Victoria's Ventures Pottery; Northwest Coast Native art; and dinners prepared by the Jones Family.
The Silverdale Farmers Market is located at the Kitsap Mall near the entrance to Kohl's Department Store. The market is in its 13th year and last year expanded to year-rounds. “(We’re) always growing and expanding to provide the community with the best variety of produce and art vendors,” the association states on its website.
The market is known for Amy Chocolates, Bella Bella Cupcakes, arts and crafts, fresh baked bread, jams and jellies, lavender, and veggie starts. You may also find eggs, flowers, honey, and handcrafted items.
Port Gamble no longer presents a farmers market, so Terrapin Farms has stepped in to fill the void.
Terrapin operates a 20- by 30-foot farm stand with berries, salad fixings, seasonal fruits and vegetables, hanging baskets, and products from other local companies: CB’s Nuts, Crimson Cove Smoked Salmon, Mirracole Morsels, Stedman’s Bee Supplies, and Williams Family Salsa.
“We’re a ‘buy local’ store,” owner Ken Vasey said. “We’ve been involved in farmers markets for 15 years and we work with other farmers in the area. Several people in town utilize our farm stand like a pantry. But one surprise is the number of tourists who shop here. Being part of the community, we anticipate local traffic, but there’s an ample number of people driving out to the Olympic Peninsula who like to stop for a little stretch break and buy some goods.”
Out of the gate, Terrapin has early season crops such as asparagus, chives, garlic, leeks, lettuce, onions, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach. It also has a variety of starts, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, fennel, lettuces, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes so you can start growing your own salad.
Peter Crabtree knows well the boost a farmers market can give to a new business. He was 15 when he started making chocolates, after taking a culinary arts class at West Sound Academy in Poulsbo. He began selling chocolates to friends, then teachers, then to shoppers at the Poulsbo Farmers Market.“By the end of summer, I decided I wanted to take it to the next level and began selling through Central Market. It got to where we needed to lease our own space," he said. The result was Choc Mo in Poulsbo Village. Last year, when Crabtree turned 21, he expanded it again: It’s now ChocMo Bistro, with food and desserts, selected beers and wines, and seasonal gifts.
“The farmers market was a great experience. You get out and talk to folks in a low-key atmosphere, in a supportive environment where you can test out new stuff at a price that is reasonable.”
In a style befitting one of the farmers market brethren, he uses nuts from CB’s Nuts in Kingston, smoked salmon from Crimson Cove, beef from cows in Kingston. He also serves Viking Feast ice cream.
Bainbridge Summer Market
When: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 14 to Nov. 10; July to Labor Day, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Town Square at City Hall Park.
Bainbridge Winter Market
When: Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., mid-November to mid-December.
Where: Eagle Harbor Congregational Church.
Bremerton Thursday Market
When: Thursdays, 4-7 p.m., May 3 to Oct. 18.
Where: Evergreen Park in downtown Bremerton.
Bremerton Sunday Market
When: Sundays, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., June 3 to Sept. 30.
Where: Bremerton Boardwalk.
When: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 5 to mid-October.
Where: Mike Wallace Park (Central Avenue and Washington Boulevard).
Port Gamble (Terrapin Farms)
When: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 4 to mid-October.
Where: 4700 block of NE State Highway 104, across the street from Mike’s Four Star BBQ
When: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 14 to Oct. 13
Where: On the waterfront (Harrison Avenue, between Amy’s on the Bay Restaurant and Marina Park, behind Peninsula Feed Store).
When: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 7 to Dec. 22.
Where: Poulsbo Village Medical/Dental Center(corner of 7th and Iverson.)
Silverdale Tuesday Market
When: Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 17 to Sept. 25.
Where: Port of Silverdale.
Silverdale Friday Market
When: Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., year-round.
Where: near the entrance to Kohl’s Department Store, 10315 Silverdale Way NW.
When: Wednesdays, 3-7 p.m., April 18 to Oct. 24.
Where: On Suquamish Way in Suquamish Village, across the street from Village Shell Gas.