By Jackie Fender
It’s market season, which means that creators, crafters and growers from all over the region will gather each week at various different locales to sell their wares. Farmers markets are an amazing opportunity to support non-brick and mortar business owners as well as vendors who bring their goods from their establishments to the outdoor market fun. During a typical market session, you can expect to journey through the freshest local produce finds, delectable dining options, compelling handmade goods, sunshine and even live entertainment. Here are just a few neat finds I’ve discovered during my market adventures in the South Sound.
Happy Belly Restaurant and Juice Bar in Tacoma’s downtown is known for its uber-delicious juices packed full of fresh fruits and veggies and a menu brimming with healthy grub that tastes good and is dietary restriction-friendly, too. As one of the newest vendors at the Broadway Farmers’ Market, you can visit Happy Belly’s booth for a little something divine for lunch or to take home for later like the curried carrot and cranberry salad highlighting a hearty serving of shaved carrots, cranberries, celery, apples and nuts and a super refreshing curry dressing. Nice, delicious and light so you won’t feel so guilty visiting the Ice Cream Social booth after. The Broadway Farmers’ Market is every Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. through summer.
Clearly I have grub on the brain when perusing all those fresh fruits and veggies, which is why another perfect go-to for grub is Pampeana Empanadas. The self-professed “Home of the Baked Empanada” can be found at the Proctor Farmers’ Market in Tacoma on Saturdays. Pampeana Empanadas bakes each empanada onsite until the golden-brown exteriors envelop the lovely interiors made from a variety of filling from the savory to the sweet. There’s a little something for everyone. Bonus: This family owned vendor hand makes each of these little gems, ensuring a quality and flavorful product. The Proctor Farmers’ Market is every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Gourmet sauerkraut straight out of Olympia is what OlyKraut is all about. If you’re looking to spice up your condiment options, OlyKraut‘s diverse selection of krauts is where to go to find flavors like Smoke and Kale, Curry, Spicy Garlic and Cumin Jalapeno. The artisan goods are fermented naturally and boast loads of probiotics and lactic acids that are good for you. You can find OlyKraut at the Proctor Farmers’ Market, Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and at the Olympia Farmers’ Market Thursday and Friday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
On occasion, I have discovered some of my favorite artisan crafters at the market and a new one on my radar is Capable Father. These gems include pendants, rings and earrings crafted by a gentleman and father who cleverly and aptly branded his wares with the moniker Capable Father. All of these lovely bits are repurposed from chandelier crystals, and the images inside were originally found in vintage books but are now printed on sustainable paper. The “up-cycling” mentality isn’t a new one but it’s flawlessly executed in each of these charming pieces. Capabale Father’s elegant wears are available at the Broadway Farmers’ Market on Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Another gem is Cottage Gardens from Graham. Rather than selling the fruits produced by our leafy friends, Cottage Gardens offers up the greenies themselves, like succulents and house plants as well as edibles to get your own garden going. Tomato plants, Swiss chard and horseradish beg you to take them home and hone your green thumb. They are among those I am especially fond of because their wares encourage others to dig their hands deep into the soil and that is what markets are all about when it comes down to it. Cottage Gardens’ greens can be found at the Proctor Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the South Tacoma Farmers’ Market on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and the Puyallup Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
I could go on forever praising the work of local crafters, creators and farmers, but alas, that will have to be saved for another time. Wander through any one of our numerous local outdoor markets and make your own discoveries. I can almost promise you’ll find your own favorites and take pride in watching them evolve with each market season. Go forth, dine, shop and support our thriving market culture.
For more information about Pierce County’s local farmers markets, check out this round-up of local markets, and learn more about Gig Harbor’s new Waterfront Farmers Market, opening this summer at Skansie Brothers Park.
Want the scoop on other local craft vendors? SouthSoundTalk takes a look at some local makers and their unique offerings available at markets, boutiques and online in this article published earlier this year.
All photos courtesy of Jackie Fender.