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Braiding Garlic Then and Now, Lament for a Market


December's Print of the Month was a portrait from our weekend on Lopez Island late last year. So is this one.

I keep going back to the few negatives from that trip -- they haunt me.

Obviously there is a picturesque, "are we still on the same planet", quality to them. Yes, there is something I find cosmically right about buying garlic or salad greens at the farm where they were grown -- or cheese from the farm where the goat's milk was produced.

But that doesn't explain why these few negatives keep bubbling to the surface of my mind.

Apart from the goats in the background this could be from the Pike Place Market. Aha! That's it.

"Braiding Garlic, Pike Place Market 1976" -- Andy Padua was one of the many truck farmers that populated the "low stalls" at the Pike Place Market for decades. The Verdi family's truck farm was the last such in Seattle's city limits.

Apart from the flower vendors and the temporary stalls set up on the cobblestones on the weekly organic produce day the local farmers are all gone. Chicken Valley no longer sells eggs -- or even chickens except for those with barbecue sauce on them out of their rotisserie. Read All About it closed. Faced with soaring rents the marginal businesses on the lower levels are an endangered species.

The market is looking more and more like Boston's Faneuil Hall -- a tourist destination mobbed with visitors soaking up history and looking picturesque in an atmosphere largely provided by what I laughingly call the department of local color.

However, Seattle doesn't have Boston's Quincy Street Market right around the corner -- where the farmers still hold court under canvas arcades and the customers are locals and only a few tourists like me.

I suppose it's inevitable that Seattle's burgeoning size and prosperity -- the huge cruise ships full of tourists that call the waterfront home -- the redevelopment of the waterfront in the post-viaduct age -- will make the "Market Up" renovations make more financial sense. That doesn't keep me from joining Knute Berger as an old mossback lamenting the losses they bring.




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