Farmers’ markets are a mainstay of the American summer, and in King County we are lucky to have many held weekly in a variety of neighborhoods, hosting healthy biodiversity with a smorgasbord of fruits and veggies to sate appetites throughout the season.
One of the most accessible farmers’ markets for BC students and faculty is held at Crossroads mall on 156th Ave. and 8th St. in Bellevue every Tuesday from 12:00 to 6:30 p.m. through the end of September. The Crossroads farmers’ market occupies two aisles of the eastern parking lot just near the library. Though small in comparison to other markets such as those held in Seattle and Issaquah, it is just large enough to spark some competition between vendors while maintaining a small crowd that rarely ever becomes overwhelming.
The first aspect of the market which I sensed was a reggae infused rendition of “Over the Rainbow” drifting through the air to my ears, which were on approach from the park. At first I chalked up the pleasant music to some unseen computer piping in recorded tunes, but the organizers’ neighborly demeanor extended to hiring local musicians for live music. Last time I went, the Polynesian musician Ry provided subtle tunes teetering between reggae and traditional Hawaiian, singing and playing guitar with backing from his homemade minidisks.
The music set the tone for a warm and pleasant day, while the freshly picked plums and peaches invited me to inherit their plumpness through avid consumption. I was given a drop of organic coffee as a sample courtesy Camano Island Coffee Roasters. Though delicious the price reflected its quality and so I moved on in search of onions and ultimately towards the fruity sirens whose call still demanded my attention.
Many of the stands at the farmers’ market accepted EBT for payment, and most everyone accepted plastic of some form, making a lack of on-hand cash not an issue. The prices were for the most part competitive with the average grocery store, and there were enough options to make shopping around for the perfect onion easy.
As always there were also some oddball stands, such as an organic dog food vendor and someone selling intricately carved soap. There were food trucks as well, which as I understand vary weekly like the musicians, though it was clear they were not determined to undercut the hefty prices of the nearby food court.
As always the quality and ripeness of the crops goes with the season. I found it is still a bit too early in the summer for the perfect plums, by far my favorite fruit. I pinched my fair share while at the market, most had a firmness indicating tart disappointment, and the tastiest red-fleshed varieties were nowhere to be found. I was beyond pleased with the peaches, though a search for a properly supple one proved challenging. The sliced specimen on display demanded my perseverance though, and ultimately I was rewarded with the perfect peach that more than justified my attendance of this weekly farmers’ market.