I hate to break it to you, but summer is ending. I think you already knew this. The angle of the light creates a golden hue on everything it touches and the leaves are beginning to fade from bright green to pale yellow. Have you visited your local farmers market yet this season? If not, now is the time. Winter is long and grocery store produce is boring. The markets are full of the bounty of the season right now, and you are missing it.
This year, it feels as though fall arrived with a flip of a switch. Yet, there is still time to enjoy all of the warm weather crops that make summer so wonderful. Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Pluots, Raspberries and Melons. Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Cucumbers, Zucchini and Onions. And although some of the treasures of summer have come and gone (The spring strawberries and garlic scapes were amazing!) the markets are adding new items on a weekly basis. In anticipation of the coming frost, we see the arrival of all of our cold weather favorites which conveniently overlap with our warm weather friends over the next couple of weeks. The market is nothing if not abundant and beautiful.
Things to look forward to in the coming weeks are the variety of Potatoes (many growers each bringing 2 or 3 different varieties, all of which are impossible to find in a traditional grocery store), the first of the Celeriac and maybe even some Brussel Sprouts or Jerusalem Artichokes. Garlic, Carrots, Kohlrabi and Beets will continue to make a strong showing as will stone ground wheat flour, artisan cheeses, honey, home baked bread and a selection of home-made wines and sauces. Apples and Pears are flooding in (with more than a few hard-to-find gems present from our local heirloom orchards) and can be bought by the case for processing or drying. Salad Greens, Collards, Kale and Chard are all still plentiful, even if you have long since run out in your own backyard plot.
At both the Leavenworth Community Farmers Market on Thursday evenings from 4-7 PM and the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market on Saturday mornings from 8-1PM, there are Master Gardeners available to answer your plant related questions. Additional regional markets to visit include the Plain Valley Farmers Market Saturdays from 10AM-Noon, the Chelan Farmers Market Thursday evenings from 4-7 PM, the Manson Farmers Market Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8:30-11:30 AM and the Ellensburg Farmers Market Saturdays from 9AM-1PM. All markets run until mid to late October, weather depending.
A truck full of empty bins after market is the greatest compliment a farmer can receive. Take the time to pay them a visit. You will not be disappointed.