The cool morning air hasn't quite lost its shiver yet in Redmond, Washington. There's still mist in the early lavender blooms but the sun was shining from a clear blue sky at the Redmond Saturday Market over the weekend, promising a warm, summer day. Entering its thirty-sixth year, this farmers' market in the Seattle suburb continues to bring together fresh, local produce and hand-crafted goods. People start arriving at 8:30 a.m. for the first pick despite the official 9 a.m. start time.
Over a hundred years ago Redmond was a logging town that enjoyed the boon of a heavily forested Pacific Northwest. A few preserved brick buildings, formerly saloons and dance halls, still stand but are now restaurants and office space. The railroad tracks still run through the city even though trains rarely come by.
The Saturday Market is located in an open-air gravel lot in the center of the old historic part of the city, sharing space with a neighboring outdoor mall (no less than three Starbucks are within walking distance).
The market air is fragrant with the sweet floral scent of strawberries from the Skagit Valley, an agriculture-rich region a little ways north of Redmond. Having survived a cold, wet winter, the berries are slow to arrive this season, but when they come, they invade the market with a blanket of vibrant hues. Several tables are already covered with small baskets and large boxes of strawberries. The vendors are stacking even more behind the tables, anticipating a steady flow of berry buyers.
Summer squash is also abundant. Baskets are full of lemon-yellow-skinned, tender summer zucchini and some vendors sell young, ping-pong-ball-sized squash with their delicate edible blooms still attached.
Large boxes of cherries are also overflowing. You've got the unique sherbet swirl of orange and yellow Rainier Cherries and the richer, more cherry-intense, sanguine-hued Bings. How could you walk by and not want to sample some? Farmers are happy to oblige. It's still one of the early cherry harvests; the truly intense summer sweetness hasn't yet developed from the sun's heat yet. For now there's still a refreshing tartness combined with a slight bitterness of the stone fruit's skin.
What's in Season Right Now
Apricots Arugula Artichokes Asparagus Basil Butterhead Lettuce Chard (Swiss and Rainbow) Cherries (Bing and Rainier) Cilantro Cucumbers Dandelion greens Fiddleheads Garlic (heads and ramps) Kale Leeks Onions (scallions, cipollini, white) Parsley Peas (English, Snap, Sugar) Potatoes Spinach Squash (blossoms and zucchini) Strawberries Sunchokes Tomatoes (hothouse)
Saturdays, May 7 through Oct 29 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 7730 Leary Way NE, Redmond WA 98052 (By the Redmond Town Center shopping mall)