To Market to Market
So, it’s August and I have literally no zucchini to write about. This time last year I was up to my eyeballs in cocozella di Napoli. I have to admit I’ve been a little bummed out about not having massive amounts of summer squash to contend with. My carrots need a few more weeks, my string beans are done for the year, and my fall plantings of broccolini and chard are about three quarters of an inch tall. Thankfully, there are plenty of places to purchase locally grown veggies in my neighborhood. Most of the regional grocery stores stock produce from New England this time of year. However, If you really want the localest and freshest in locally grown fresh food you need to find a farmers’ market.
What’s a farmers’ market? Think of it as a pop-up shop that sells locally grown vegetables, fruits, and if you are lucky meat and dairy products! Farmers’ markets can, and do,
pop up in the strangest places. I’ve seen them in front of Worcester’s city hall, in public parks, in business parks, and at highway rest stops. Take a spin on your favorite search engine- search “farmers market” and your local zip or postal code- to find markets near you. Or, click right here to use the USDA’s Local Food Directory. I found a great market at a local restaurant and ice cream parlor.
First, I stopped at the ATM for a little cash. When you go to a farm stand or farmers’ market I advise you to do the same. Yes, many vendors at these markets have that little pay-with-plastic-slidy-thing for their cellular smart phone. However, everyone takes cash. I always bring cash.
As soon as I saw the tent from Harper’s Farm and Garden I realized that it is August and I haven’t eaten corn on the cob yet this summer. Yes, I am just as shocked as you are. How could I pass up local ears of butter and sugar? I didn’t.
The farm’s saleswoman, Annie, pointed out the photogenic nature of their heirloom tomatoes.
Harper’s also had a rainbow assortment of beets and carrots, broccoli, summer squash in green and yellow, leeks, onions, potatoes, and kale (if you consider kale to be food). I’m going to remember these folks for sure. I will also remember that there is another Harper’s farm in the area; I was advised not to confuse the two.
Next, I wandered over to the Balance Rock Farm tent, intrigued by the collection of insulated boxes and coolers they had. A quick glance at their sign revealed Balance Rock sells meat, poultry, eggs and cheese.
I somehow managed to resist their bacon, although I will very certainly buy some another time. I bought a whole chicken. Saleswoman Lynette was proud to show off their multi-hued eggs from the multiple breeds of chicken they keep.
Food Safety Note: See how I bought the veggies first and the chicken last? You don’t want to walk around in August temperatures with meat or dairy for long. Especially at a farmers’ market where you might get caught up listening to the local musicians playing really good Bob Dylan covers. (Yes, the farmer’s market at Pinecroft Dairy has local musicians.) Either shop for refrigerated foods last or bring a cooler with you. Farmers put a lot of work into your food. Respectfully, please keep it safe to eat.
The chicken was amazing. The corn was amazing. Farmers are amazing! I admit I am just a little disappointed in my garden this year. However, I was super happy to meet some friendly farm folks who seem to be having a decent season despite the North East drought. There are plenty of ways to get local food into your DIYet- give your local farmers’ market a try. Where do you go for farm made goodies? Share in the comments!
PS: Because I know you’re wondering…