We’re celebrating Edith’s book birthday all week as ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part makes its way into the world. As part of our festivities, the Wickeds are talking about farmers’ markets and our favorite items to take home from them. We might even share a recipe or two!
Liz: There’s an awesome farmers’ market a couple towns over from me, the Coventry Farmers’ Market, known throughout New England because of its sheer size and experience. It’s like going to a county fair. I love it because the dogs get to go, and in addition to fruits and veggies and all kinds of other treats, they often have other groups there doing educational things. One weekend last summer a greyhound rescue brought some of their dogs, and another weekend some alpacas came to visit. As far as bringing something home, fresh berries, without a doubt. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, all of the above. I’m a fresh berry junkie – love them to eat and to put in my smoothies.
Barb: In summer for us, it’s the Boothbay Farmer’s Market on the green in Boothbay, Maine. It’s been open for the season for two weeks now and Bill and I are thrilled because fresh produce can be hard to get on the peninsula–not to mention the local meat, baked goods, cheeses and other delicious treats. But I also wanted to mention Russo’s in Watertown, MA. I famously don’t grocery shop, but over the years, I have made an exception for Russo’s. It’s not technically a farmer’s market. Originally a small retail outlet for a restaurant wholesale business, it’s expanded over the years, yet the aisles can still be jammed with shoppers. What I love is it’s a multi-ethnic, multi-national shopping experience. “What do you do with that?” a little old Italian lady will ask, spying an unfamiliar squash in a young Ethiopian woman’s cart. “Oh, it’s for a stew. You peel it…” This goes on all the time at Russo’s, which is why I enjoy the place so much.
Julie: I live in Somerville, MA, and love that there are so many farmer’s markets around me. Harvard Square has one during the week. Union Square has one on Saturdays. And I am even thinking about getting a half share in a CSA. My favorite farmer’s market finds, though? Much as I love, love, love in-season vegetables, and really love summer crops, I enjoy finding the other items at the market, like jams and jellies, or local chocolates. Supporting local is so important for so many reasons, and farmer’s markets are a great way to discover local businesses. And PS, I am going to Russos soon!
Sherry: Having lived all over the country while Bob was in the Air Force I’ve been to a lot of farmers markets. In Cheyenne, Wyoming they roasted chili peppers in huge rotating wire baskets over open flames. When we lived in San Pedro, CA I ate so many strawberries I’m surprised I didn’t turn red. In Monterey every Tuesday night Alvarado street downtown was closed. And like with Liz, it was more like a festival than a farmers market. I’ve never seen such fresh produce. In Bedford, MA we found the most amazing tomatoes. And now in Virginia we buy all kinds of produce and oh, the bakery that brings bread, delicious.
Edith: I love going to the farmers’ market, and to local farm stands. It’s a little different, though, when you’re trying to sell rather than looking to buy. I remember putting out crisp, pristine heads of lettuce and watching them wilt in four hours of sun. The next week I got a market umbrella! At one market I was surrounded by bakers and other giving out tasty samples, so I decided to offer samples of tender arugula. It being 1992, nobody had any idea of what that “exotic” green was. But greens lovers always bought a bunch after trying it.
Now I’m trying to sell books at market instead of produce. Here I am last year at Cider Hill Farm, our local orchard and vegetable farm, and the farm that inspired the fictional farm-to-table dinner described in the beginning of ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part. I’ve signed up for one market a month through September all over the north-of-Boston region. Wish me luck!
Jessie: Instead of farmers’ markets I usually head for farm stands. I live in a really rural area and am lucky to be surrounded by orchards and blueberry fields as well as farms that raise vegetables. I particularly like McKenzie’s Farm for their delicious tomatoes and cider doughnuts. In the fall we always buy a crate of apples from Kelly Orchards to make cider with friends and family on an antique press.
Readers: What’s your favorite market or farm stand? Any good recipes? Best or worst buys?
I used to go to Russo’s when it was in that small older building…now they have expanded and I am not near them…Idyllwild is closer, but we have a local farmers’ market starting soon and I prefer that.
Enjoy the market, Gram!
The Middleboro Farmers Market reopens this Saturday–at a new, larger site (the location is an historic mill, close to a major road). ! It’s already on my calendar. In past years it’s been small enough that I’ve gotten to know the vendors/farmers–I hope that doesn’t get lost.
Excellent, Sheila. Sounds like a good market.
We have a small one here in town, but I must admit I have never gone. (A case of I don’t buy and eat that much produce, I’m afraid.) I hadn’t thought about the work that goes into a farmer being ready for one of these markets until I read ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part.
Glad to let you in on the secrets of hard-working farmers, Mark!
Russo’s in Watertown was a favorite for many years, but I no longer live that close to it. My mother turned me on to it. I’m working when the local farmers’ markets are open so haven’t been to one in ages. But I’ll “shop around” and see if any are open on Sundays.
Steve and I used to drive out Rt. 2A to somewhere around Concord where there was a small family farm. They set their own fresh produce on an open sided stand with a pitched roof type of cover. It was very sturdy and looked home built. Charming. There was a hanging scale and an old coffee can for money. If no one was there tending the stand they would leave a hand written note to please weigh your own produce and leave the money in the 3 lb. coffee can. There was always a little change inside, but I think most people just rounded off to the nearest dollar. We went there often during the tomato season. Nothing else tastes like a truly fresh tomato. That was our favorite farm stand that was really just a farm stand. I don’t know if it’s still there. It’s been several years.
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