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Originally published Friday, April 26, 2013 at 4:13 PM

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Editorial notebook: Spring has sprung at Washington’s farmers markets

Pay no attention to our hot/cold weather. The official opening of Washington state’s 150 farmers markets this month is the real harbinger of spring.

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SPRING officially started in March, but the sign I was waiting for came this month with the reopening of Washington’s farmers markets.

On Saturdays, I’ll now be up and out of the house early to beat the crowds. I’ll return home laden with farm-fresh eggs, meat from animals who grazed nearby and vegetables picked during the week while I was at work.

I will buy several bouquets of flowers from the colorful stalls. I have my favorite people to purchase from, a wizened woman who I worry about picking flowers in the summer heat and a pair of young giggling girls who make special bouquets for me.

If there’s no line, I’ll query the vegetable and fruit guys from Yakima even though they’ve told me over and over why the ways vegetables are grown and meat raised make a difference in the taste.

Unlike when I go to the supermarket, I’ll have no grocery list in hand at the farmers market. That’s the best way to go; you’re more open to suggestions. As a result, I’ve made the most amazing rustic tomato sauce and now have an addiction to British bacon.

Farmers markets vary. Some are little more than a few stalls and a row of crates. In some communities, they are large gathering places for the trendy.

I’ve purchased handcrafted arts and crafts and clothing at some markets. I’ve got my eye on a set of Adirondack chairs spotted at a market last summer. The market near my house holds outdoor classes. Last year I learned to grill oysters and raise succulents.

An economic boon for local growers is rightfully serving as a community outlet. And a bright addition next year will be wineries and microbreweries, thanks to the Legislature’s recent passage of Senate Bill 5674. Spring is finally here.

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Lynne K. Varner

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