FARMS AND FARMERS
August 2, 2013 at 6:25 PM
Jonny Taylor and Paola Gonzalez serve bags full of Rainier cherries from the Martin Family Orchards at this Pike Place Market stand. The warm colors of peaches and apricots contrast with a blanket of greens on the stall a few feet away, where Chai Cha, of the Shong Chao’s Farm, sells Swiss chard, parsley, cilantro and romain lettuce.
It’s a typical scene of smells and colors, but you may have noticed something odd about my picture. Are there trees at Pike Place? And where are the crowds of tourists?
The produce stalls aren’t where you may think. This newest “express” version of the market, which opened in June, sets up in Occidental Square every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The idea, explained Taylor, is to reach out to downtown residents and office workers who can’t go to Pike Place Market for their produce. Two other employment hubs, South Lake Union and City Hall, have hosted the market’s vendors every summer since 2009, but this is the first year the stands have come to Pioneer Square. Word is starting to spread, said Taylor, as customers start to bring their office mates.
October 14, 2011 at 4:59 PM
Sketched Oct. 11, 2011
Bob Ricci knew what to do with his family’s farm after the purebred Holstein cows were sold and the dairy business shut down. He told his dad, a third-generation Snohomish farmer, that he would plant a corn maze and charge people to go through it.
His dad’s reply: “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Ten years later, Ricci’s Villa farm is better known for Bob’s corn maze and pumpkin patch than for the hay and horse-boarding business that also followed the closing of the dairy.
And Bob, now 38, keeps coming up with ideas: a trike track for kids, fire pits that can be rented for parties, and — as a nod to the farm’s past — a little train painted like cows pulled by a tractor, a “cow-train.”
The cornucopia of entertainment seemed a little overwhelming to me, but Bob had a good explanation: “This is how farms are surviving.”
Hay ride: I squeezed into the tractor cabin to be able to do this sketch of Bob on a recent soggy morning. Bob was pulling a trailer carrying a happy group of about 30 school children and their families sitting on stacks of hay. After going through the corn maze, their next stop was the 20-acre pumpkin patch located further into the fields. Bob said the entire farm spreads over 280 acres.
Pumpkins galore: More than 28 varieties of pumpkins are grown at the patch, including Wee-Bee-Little, Cinderella, Howden and Cotton Candy, all names I had never heard of — keep in mind that Halloween is not a holiday in my native country of Spain.
Growing up at the farm: Bob’s entrepreneurial spirit goes back to his childhood. He told me that as a 9-year-old kid, he would sit by the road to sell sweetcorn just like other kids would sell lemonade. These days he goes to farm conventions around the country to learn new ways to make the farm prosper. At a meeting in California, for example, he learned about pumpkin cannons and he later bought one in Louisiana. The cannons, which are used to shoot discarded pumpkins up in the air just for the fun of it, are another amusement for thousands of visitors drawn to local farms during harvest season.
For more information on Snohomish County pumpkin patches visit Festival of Pumpkins dot org.
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
December 3, 2010 at 5:06 PM
Sketched Dec. 1st, 1:01 p.m.
I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I’ve owned a fake Christmas tree for eight years. It comes apart in three pieces and plugs right into the wall.
In a region where neighborhood tree lots seem to be everywhere and people even hike into the mountains to cut their own, how “not cool” is it to have one made out of plastic?
I visited the Hunter Farms Christmas tree lot in Wedgwood to get the perspective of a family that has been selling their firs and pines in Seattle since the 1950s.
For Carol Hunter, the matriarch of the Mason County family whose farming business goes back to the 1880s, the No. 1 reason to get a real tree is to support Washington agriculture.
Her son Bill said if he bought even a plastic flower for his wife, he’d be a dead man. “Real trees are for real people.”
I may not be ready to retire my artificial tree, but I appreciate the holiday scenes that tree farmers like the Hunters bring to parking lots every year. They cheer up gray spaces — and they make for great sketching.
Sketched Dec. 1st, 10:51 a.m.
Blog extra: See uncropped versions of these sketches here and here.
Sketch-worthy Seattle. Where should I take my sketchpad next? Do you know of a good sketch story waiting to be drawn? I’d love to learn about it. You can send me your suggestions to email@example.com or via Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
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