The Fall Harvest Season Arrives at the Pike Place Market

Maltby Produce, Labor Day Weekend 2011

When I think of the growing season in Seattle from the distance of the winter, I often make the mistake of associating July and August with height of the harvest.  This year especially, because of the very mild summer, spending time in the Pike Place Market has made the truth abundantly clear:  the real height of the harvest begins in September and continues well into October or even November.

Although the farm tables have been full since early July, the peak of the harvest season has now begun in earnest.  On this first weekend of September, the tables in the Market are fairly groaning under the weight of an ever growing selection.  Melons, figs, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are just beginning to arrive, while favorites from earlier in the season, like lettuces, greens and radishes, are making a second, late season showing.

Tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and chilies, September 2011


I often think that, when the discussion turns to real farmer’s markets, I mean markets that are dedicated to selling groceries, the Pike Place Market gets a bit of short shift.  It is easy to think that  Pike Place is more about tourists than about serious shoppers and certainly, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it can be hard to maneuver around the crowds who all seem to be from out of town and all seem to be looking for the First Starbucks Ever.

A lot of people looking for the Original Starbucks, Sept 2011

But saying that there are a lot of tourists in the Pike Place Market in the Summer is like saying there are a lot of Americans in Paris in August.  Its true, but Paris is still Paris, and even at its most crowded, Paris is pretty great.

I have worked in the Pike Place Market for over 18 years.  During that time, I have often shopped on a daily basis at the farmer low stalls, the permanent high stalls, the butchers, dairy venders, spice merchants and miscellaneous stores that make up the community of the Market.  I own a restaurant that is located in a building that is nearly 100 years old and is governed by the rules of the Pike Place Historical District.  My neighbors have been the Pike Place free clinic and the Senior Center, and the upstairs residents, low income seniors.  I never walk through the market without seeing a dozen familiar faces.

One of the things I remember most vividly about living in Paris was the feeling that the area within 5 blocks of my apartment was its own, self contained little village.  Although I moved throughout Paris, I still ultimately had the feeling that, if I never left that 25 square block area, my life would still be full and complete and contain everything I could want.  For me, the Pike Place Market comes closer than any place else in Seattle to replicating that feeling.




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