Every Saturday, starting in April, you have a perfect excuse to get up with the sun and seize the day: the Bainbridge Island Farmers’ Market is in full swing and, trust me, you don’t want to miss it. The market opens at 9:00 AM and if you arrive just as it’s opening, it will already be bustling with islanders and visitors alike who fully appreciate the value of locally grown food and, for whom, this is a weekly tradition. Just follow the signs:
Bursting with locally grown veggies, flowers, baked goods, eggs from happy hens, chocolates, wine, grass-fed beef, local cheeses, fungi, fresh bread, jams, handcrafted arts and crafts, wine, oysters (when in season) and more, this charming, weekly market does not disappoint. Unless you get here right before it ends at which time you are certain to be disappointed because everything will, sadly, be gone. No, this is a market where the early bird gets the worm (or those delicious eggs, as it were). In my experience, the eggs and stunning flower bouquets are always the first to go, especially at this time of year when farm-fresh eggs are in short supply.
I arrived at the market just after it opened and look how many bouquets had already sold! Persephone Farm always has gorgeous flowers and they will even create custom floral designs for parties, events and weddings if you ask nicely. I adore the repurposing of these old olive oil containers as vases.
These perfectly springy bouquets were created by Leapfrog Farm who also offers organic produce and a CSA (community supported agriculture) program which allows you to buy "shares" in a local farm and receive produce and such in return. The perfect way for city dwellers (or lazy country folk like moi) to ensure a steady stream of fresh, organic produce while supporting our local farms. I call that a win-win.
If it’s veggies you’re in the mood for, you are bound to find inspiration for a week of menus in the bounty the farmers have on offer. It’s all seasonal, of course, and fresh as can be, having travelled only a short distance to the market. You’ll want to bring some bags and cash (although some vendors do accept credit cards) and keep your mind open to inspiration. Much of the fun to be had at the market is in wandering around and letting the gorgeousness of the veggies call out to you. Not sure what to buy? I enjoy stalking our local celebrity chef to see what he’s putting into his bags... Thanks, Greg!
Leapfrog's leeks, shallots, and parsnips piled high! There's an amazing soup coming together in my head...
In addition to gorgeous, organic produce, Butler Green Farms also sells grass-fed meat and makes their own tomato sauce from Bainbridge Island tomatoes. You won't be surprised to hear that it is amazing. Butler also offers a CSA program and a weekly blog that will keep you up to date on what's in season which I find helpful for meal planning.
The CSA opportunities are wide and varied on Bainbridge with many farms, including Full Tilth Farm, offering "free choice" or traditional "box shares" with their program which I find encouraging as I'm never really sure what to do with all that kale. Full Tilth specializes in berries, veggies, tomatoes and eggs and their staff is as charming as they come.
Look at those succulent bunches of radishes! Full Tilth also sweetly includes pansies in every bag of spring greens to ensure a beautiful salad every time.
Darling baby bok choy just crying out to be included in your next stir-fry.
Getting veggied out? Don't forget the bread and wine! Made with love and care by Judith Weinstock from 124 year old starter (wow!), her booth showcases a multitude of decadent loaves and rolls to choose from, including: whole wheat, cracked pepper & parmesan, seed bread, gluten-free honey and spice muffins, fruit and nut, potato-caraway rye, and olive and herb breakfast. You definitely need a Kalamata Olive and Rosemary loaf. Just look at how delicious they are:
Did I mention wine? Yes! 100% Bainbridge Island grown, crushed and bottled, Bainbridge Vineyards is a must-see stop on your Farmers' Market tour. Producing "delicate, crisp,and fragrant whites, and complex, light-bodied reds," Bainbridge Vineyards wines are made exclusively from certified organic grapes. With seven wines to choose from, they're certain to have the perfect bottle or three.
Stocking up on veggies, bread and wine for the week is exhausting! You might find you need a little something to get you through the rest of the market and boy, do I have just the spot: Coquette, "a taste of Paris in the heart of the market." Locally made baked goodies to give you the sugar rush you need to stay focused for the rest of your morning. Cheekily named, my favorite is the Gauche Brioche:
This being the Pacific Northwest, naturally you'll want some coffee to go with your pastries. Swing by the Fstopcafé mobile espresso trailer where there are busy serving up artisnal coffee roasted with care. You'll note from this picture that Fido is, indeed, welcome at the market. Please make sure you remember his leash!
There now, aren't you feeling rested and rejuvenated? Good! We have lots more to see so let's keep at it!
While the Farmers' Market is chock full of food (including several stalls selling ready-to-eat hot dishes), there are lots of other local goodies to choose from: plants and veggie starts for your garden as well as several stalls focused on handmade arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry, garden sculpture, and more.
Handmade from vintage feed sacks, Regan's Attic features sweet jewelry and accessories with a vintage, French feel. Her booth is as darling as they come!
There's a bit of a mystical, hippy vibe still permeating the island and you'll pick up on it when you stop by Venus in Pisces. Pick up a Home Blessing kit that inclues all the necesseties to make your new home a happy home, including the sage required for a good smudging. They also sell kits designed to enhance Love, Healing, Purification, Passion, Happiness, and Abundance. Surely there's something for everyone on your list!
I adore these precious baby onesies, bibs and burp clothes designed and made by Bainbridge Island's own Baby Lux Design. A former interior designer, Tyler has a keen eye for creative and fun design. She also teaches art and sewing classes to kids on the island. Be sure to check out her darling dog leashes and collars for the furry baby who has your heart.
Not to be missed at the market: the bees! Hosted by West Sound Bee Keepers Association, this stop is always a hit with the kids and the curious. I like to keep a distance from the busy buzzers but there is a wealth of bee knowledge to be learned about these little critters who are so essential to the production of our food supply. Interested in keeping your own bees? WSBKA offers classes for newbies on how to get up and running with your own bee society.
I highly recommend a sunny day for your first visit to the beautiful Bainbridge Island Farmers' Market but, rest assured, the vendors will be there, rain or shine, to greet you with with a smile, a chat, or a suggestion on how to cook all that vitamin-rich and tasty seasonal greenery. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to wander about, make new friends, ask questions, pet dogs, and enjoy the live music which starts at 10:30 AM. It's the perfect start to any weekend and exactly what you need to wow your out of town guests at your next dinner party. Be sure to say hello if you see me at the market one Saturday morning. Bon appetit!
Bainbridge Island Farmers' Market
Town Square at City Hall
280 Madison Avneue North
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110