Every Saturday from April to December, you can find me at the Bellingham Farmers Market.
If you come with me, you have to be prepared though. I mean business…but I will also stop to talk to everyone I know.
A “quick trip” will take an hour. I don’t mess around.
Close to the opening bell at 10am each week, I start with the vendors in front of La Fiamma on Chestnut and Railroad. My friend Matt sets up most weeks right under the big maple there in front of the bike racks with his awesome Perler bead creations, and I always stop to say hello and see what’s new. We’ve been decorating our awesome basement game room with his creations.
Sometimes across from Matt, there’s a kid there with the most beautiful cutting boards, but sometimes there is a Native American gent in that space with beautiful jewelry, who sings with a hand drum on occasion.
Before you even reach the market, you get a little bowled over with the mouthwatering smells. (Like those waves off of PigPen in the Peanuts comics, but delicious. Maybe not the best metaphor?)
You smell the dhal from Simmering Tava, or the sauce they put on the tuna from Fairhaven Poke. There’s a whole row of ready-to-eat items, but don’t head there quite yet.
The first thing that greets you when you get to the market area is an explosion of produce. Two huge produce stands anchor the southeast entrance to the market, gifting us with a constantly-changing seasonal cast of fruits and vegetables every week.
Spring brings fistfuls of plump green and dark purple asparagus spears, and bouquets of pea shoots. Summer delivers with fat juicy peaches and a rainbow of fist-sized heirloom tomatoes that you carry with the utmost care back to your car to prevent any possible bruising. Fall rolls in with more gourds and squashes than you’ve ever seen, and beets and potatoes and cabbages and so many colors of apples.
But don’t spend all your money before you even see what else the market holds!
The first place I stop is always the mushroom stall.
Cascadia Mushrooms brings not only gorgeous fungi every week, but also kits you can use to grow your own shiitake or lions’ mane mushrooms at home! Sometimes they even have reishi mushrooms.
We get our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from Roslyn at Rabbit Fields Farms. You can’t miss her saffron-yellow umbrella and the matching fabric fluttering in the breeze around her huge certified organic produce stand. Our box is ENORMOUS and stuffed with all sorts of goodies. Some weeks we get berries, kale and potatoes, the next comes cabbage and kohlrabi and tomatoes. you never know until you open the box – it’s a gift full of veggies and fruit every week.
Pat is the lady with the planters made of boots and kitchen utensils and gorgeous handmade birdhouses, but she also sells the best eggs (and the best price!) at the market.
A swirl of brightly-colored, handmade hula hoops can be had just a little further down the row from Pat.
As you stroll around the corner from the hula hoops and Roslyn’s stand, make sure you stop to watch Strangely’s show. No matter how many times we have seen it, we always stop and watch.
“Bass on the face”. Enough said. (You have to see him, or catch him on my Instagram stories to understand.)
If Amy is working, we will stop by the Henna Lee booth. It’s a calm, dark oasis from the hustle just outside, and Amy has a super calming presence and makes her henna pastes by hand. (She’s also a beautiful artist and I’ve written about her before.)
When you head into the Market Depot (the big building at the north end of the market), you could go visit my friend Shannon with her handmade chocolate truffles. If you ask nicely, she might give you a taste of the lavender lemon (my personal favorite) or the sipping “chai-colate”, a thick concoction made from melted chocolate and chai.
Yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds.
Tucked back in the corner in their own little booth is Ralf’s Bavarian Bakery. That’s usually the treat the kids ask for – pretzels as big as their heads. Never with mustard, just plain. (Though they DO have mustard if that is your jam).
In the opposite corner from Ralf’s is the Breadfarm. Most weeks (except when I’m on a Whole30 and I cannot take it), I’ll pick up a loaf of their Monster Stoneground and a croissant. They always have samples, and their sour cherry lemon bread is otherworldly.
Next stop is the eastern-most row, the outside that faces the street.
It’s the last stop before we head home to squirrel away the goodies we picked up.
We slow down and say hey to Chelle of Chelle Beautiful, and her fairy squad armed with balloons and her army of face painters, ready to make you a lizard or a cat or a unicorn.
Drayton Harbor Oysters is worth a stop – they barbecue oysters with white wine and parmesan cheese. The smell will draw you in, even if you don’t like oysters. My mouth is watering and my stomach growling as I’m typing this out. Yum.
Last stop lately has been Cauldron Broths, a purveyor of delicious bone broths. They have been serving up some tasty borscht-inspired beet-infused beef and some french-onion-soup-infused beef bone broths lately, and they’ve saved my bum from diving headfirst off my Whole30 journey this summer with their plan steamed broths (with a generous pinch of flaky sea salt.
(If I ever start dating again, a love of farmers markets in general will probably be a requirement for any potential dudes. I don’t mess around when it comes to who I am anymore, and the market is a huge part of me.)
I don’t have enough room here to cover even half of the booths our market is bursting with. We have skin care and plants and candles and mead and kombucha and pasta and so many other things, I don’t even know where to start.
You should come on out to our market any Saturday between April and December, and choose your own adventure. <3