It’s Spring! The warm sun is shining on us and peas, rhubarb and asparagus are finally (!) filling the local markets. It’s that time of year when we can’t help but get inspired to head to our local farmer’s market. As a Seattle local who has shopped in Pike Place Market for years, I have learned strategies to optimize my experience. Whether you’re a market “regular” or you are dipping your toe into shopping at your local market, this advice should help set you on your way!
Timing is Everything
Naturally, the nice weather encourages many people to come experience Pike Place. I love that more and more people are coming together to support their local farmers but I do prefer having a little more solitude when shopping. My strategy is to arrive to the market early to avoid the hotter and busier hours and enjoy a slower-paced start to my day. Not only will you avoid crowds, but you’ll get first pick of produce, seafood and pastries. Weekdays and evenings also tend to be less busy. If early mornings don’t work for you, another option is to check out “Evening Farmer’s Market” on Wednesday evenings between 5-8 pm starting in July.
Prepare for the Occasion
Due to the temporary nature of farmer’s markets, you’ll want to take care of a few amenities before heading out the door. Things like restrooms and water fountains may be few and far between or completely unavailable. Make a quick game plan and bring along a water bottle and cloth shopping bags. Don’t forget to layer up in case the sun disappears!
*Note that there are four sets of public restrooms in Pike Place Market but the lines can get long…
Have an eye out for what’s in season in your area. Shopping in this way will not only get you a less expensive haul, but it’ll also get you ingredients that taste better and may have more nutritional benefits than off-season purchases.
You can keep up on what to expect by following a seasonal calendar: https://seattlefarmersmarkets.org/whats-fresh/ripe-n-ready
Don’t be shy about asking your fish monger or your produce guy/gal about what’s fresh and local. They will happily guide you and appreciate your thoughtfulness in asking. The folks who work at farmer’s markets have a close relationship with their product and love to educate others. They’ll be happy to give suggestions if you’re not sure what to make for dinner or if you want to explore using a unique ingredient. Once you get to know your Market, you might find yourself with new recipes and stashes they’ve set aside for you. They are also your go-to people for sourcing questions.
Delicious treats, fragrant soaps, flowers and specialty goods are in abundance. Give some love to your local craftspeople! Do you need a new cutting board or soap dish? Take some inventory in your home and think about gifts for upcoming holidays and birthdays. The crafts your artists make support your community and give a personal, local touch to any gift-giving occasion.
Check the Calendar
Whether you’ve got a day with the kids or looking to do something for date night, the Pike Place Market offers a variety of unique and delicious events. Most Spring/Summer days have something fun to offer, but I definitely recommend looking at the calendar if you are entertaining guests and/or your family. I’ve enjoyed SantaCon, Art Walks and Sunset Supper in August is a MUST! You can keep up to date with Pike Place Market events by looking at their calendar here: http://pikeplacemarket.org/market-events
Post by Heather Mabson