Despite the late summer arrival of heat-wilted afternoons, the chill of the evening skies and whispering hints of autumn are signs that the farmers' markets in the Northwest are coming to a close. So to finish out my own season for Market Scene out in Washington state, what better way to bid farewell to summer than from my own backyard—welcome to Duvall, just northeast of Seattle. Won't you visit for a final stroll through our little market?
Duvall. It may rhyme with "small" but that doesn't diminish the abundance of charm within this little city of just under 6,000 residents. Originally a late 1800s homestead of James Duvall, the area was eventually established as a logging town. The residents harvested the heavily forested hills that surround the community overlooking the Cherry Valley, a wide, flat stretch of meadow and wetlands that the Snoqualmie River cuts through. This valley is now the harvest home of many farmers who bring their seasonal crops into the summer farmers markets in and around Seattle, including Duvall.
From May until September 29th, the Duvall Farmers Market opens every Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m., along a small closed-off section of Brown Street, right in front of the main hardware store and a stone's throw from the small post office. The market takes up just a short section of the street with a dozen or so vendors lining both sides of the road, selling fresh produce, handmade soaps, artwork, jewelry and some weeks even a woodfire pizza truck sets up.
The market is busy with an abundance of tomatoes, beans of all sorts and the bumper crop of berries. There's still stone fruit like plums and peaches, but the early signs of fall are bringing in a handful of apples and pears to vendor tables. The summer heat has brought giant sunflower blooms to the florists selling pre-bundled bouquets. They rise above the other blossoms, dwarfing the bright tiger lily and gladiolus blooms sitting alongside in buckets.
The tables are being covered with tomatoes, a bright tablescape of warm scarlet hues and a variety of shapes and sizes. The sun has helped develop a candy sweetness to the smaller grape or cherry varieties, so they're good enough to just eat on their own. The summer squash continues to fill the vendor baskets, offering shapes and colors of all kinds. The whimsical UFO-shaped pattypan squash in bright yellow or greenish-white are popular, even if people are buying them on charm alone.
Another unusual find are the "dragon tongue" beans, pale long beans speckled with a rich purple spatter pattern from the Growing Things table. A leopard-like cross between a wax bean and the purple-skinned variety of green bean, this unique bean has a developed sweetness. It's more juicy than the standard green bean, blessed with a tender and waxy skin, easily eaten on its own. Try chopping them up raw and making a salad, keeping them as intact as possible and not losing its color by cooking them.
By the time 7 p.m. closing time arrives, the tables are mostly emptied. I brought home some of the fun-shaped pattypan squash to supplement our fridge already full from a CSA delivery.
The long days of summer are waning; where the afternoon light would remain golden until as late as nine, the skies are starting to turn dusky. The season of fresh produce will slow, but it doesn't diminish the appreciation of living in a small community like Duvall, where you can see nature's bounty flourish in front of you.
What's in Season Right Now
Berries (blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries)
Greens (multiple varieties - arugala,bok choy, chard, spinach, collards)
Market Days and Hours
Thursdays, May 5th through September 29th, 3 to 7 p.m.
Located on Brown Street, between NE Richardson and NE Ring; Duvall, WA 98019