The Downtown Walla Walla Farmers Market is well into its 26th season, but as the warm weather persists and the melons ripen, it still has plenty to offer newcomers and regulars alike.
Held every Saturday from early May to late October at the Farmers Market Pavilion, a short walk from downtown, open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the market has been a go-to destination for local produce and artisan goods for decades.
With dozens of farmers, processors and artisans on any given Saturday, the weekly market has rebounded significantly from its pandemic crisis, said Kathryn Witherington, executive director of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, which runs the market. .
“We’re excited to keep pushing it back,” she said.
For many vendors with a wide assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as R&R Produce, Schreiber Farms, Welcome Table Farms and others, the produce on offer changes with the seasons as recent harvests replace old ones.
Although products made with milk from Umapine, Oregon, Creamline Farms dairy farms aren’t as seasonal as fresh produce, they still try to mix things up, said co-owner Erica Turner.
The vendor regularly sells cultured butter, non-homogenized milks – including all-natural varieties in orange cream, chocolate and strawberry flavor – and cheese made by Walla Walla Cheese Co. with milk from the closed.
With grilling season ramping up, however, they’re trying to keep rolling out fun new flavors, such as Blueberry Honey Butter or Jalapeno Lime Butter, Turner said.
And while the milk itself is present all summer, its flavor changes subtly as the types of feed available to grass-fed cows change, she said.
As Crockett Road Lavender Farm’s fresh flowers are sold and what’s left ceases to pass, they are content to sell their dried bunches and distilled essential oils until the end of the season.
While fresh flowers make a nice accent in the dining room, husband-and-wife co-owners Tom Binder and Louise Dyjur like to use their culinary lavender in scones and lavender lemonade, Binder said. The essential oil can also be adapted for use as a surprisingly strong bug spray, he said.
In at least one case, the products on offer do not change over the summer, but the vendor selling them does.
As onions from the Castoldi family farm become too old for the market around mid-August, they will trade with Locati Farms to offer customers sweet Walla Walla onions ready to grill all summer long, said Alex Heiser, director of the farmers market.
No matter when these sweet onions are purchased, an age-old favorite use remains the beer-battered onion ring fried in a cast-iron skillet, said Nathan Castoldi.
Other products that aren’t ripe in time for the 4th of July will have popped up as the month slips into August, such as those offered by Moonlight Melons.
Because it’s a farmers’ market and farming is an unpredictable business, some produce simply won’t be available due to poor weather, such as strawberries from Aichele Farms, Heiser said. But, he added, that vendor should be back by the end of the month with fresh raspberries and blueberries.
Farmers in the region have had two years of strange weather, quickly changing from the scorching heat of 2021 to an unusually wet 2022, and that weather has taken its toll.
“On the one hand, it’s great because we can be completely reopened, and it was great to add this community feeling of live music and tables and umbrellas and chairs and to encourage people to linger,” Witherington said.
“But the spring weather really affected our farmers this year, between the April frosts, all that rain at the start of the season, and it felt like as soon as that weather passed it got hot,” he said. she declared.
“For some of our farmers who could have been here three weeks ago with cherries and stone fruits, their crops have been delayed and in some cases completely ruined.”
Still, many product varieties tend to appear in mid-August, and Witherington still expects that trend to continue this year.
Other products are much less sensitive to the seasons, such as wine barrel furniture from Tikiz Wine Designs, art objects from Czyhold Metal Design, hot dishes served by Granny’s Tamales or cold snacks from Tropical Treats.
But customers can also expect consistent fresh produce from Chesed Farms, which specializes in indoor grown mushrooms, microgreens and its recently introduced range of year-round fresh herbs as part of a mission to provide “persistent local food” to local residents.
For co-owner Sundown Hazen, there’s nothing better than sautéed chestnut mushrooms with thyme and served on avocado toast, though lion’s mane lobster rolls might come close.
For those looking more for a year-round snack than a hearty meal, Chesed Farms has partnered with Paradise Cravings, a passion project of Alexsander Romadin that offers dried fruits, mushrooms and herbs made only from the freshest and highest quality products.
Because of this commitment to quality, Paradise Cravings’ offerings fluctuate more with the seasons than those of Chesed Farms. While cinnamon apples and pineapple snacks are currently on offer, their long-awaited watermelon jerky won’t be available until ripe Hermiston melons are in season, Hazen said.
With an ever-changing landscape of healthy and hearty foods, there’s always something to excite new or returning customers at the Downtown Walla Walla Farmers’ Market.