It is time for our annual paean to farmers’ markets. With Earth Day celebrations and spring-y weather we are looking forward to enjoying the weekend. There is nothing like taking a leisurely stroll through a farmers’ market to remind us of the bounty of good and healthy foods our farmers grow here on our beautiful blue jewel of a planet. Remember to bring your own bags!
Every year I wander through the garden shops and envision beautiful tomato plants growing in the raised bed in our back yard, burgeoning with warm and aromatic fruit, soon to be sliced on tomato sandwiches, or incorporated into fragrant and garlic-y tomato sauces. The grim reality is that I get busy, or indifferent to the weather, or have moved onto another project – look at those Adirondack chairs! They need a good coat of paint! And another weekend has flown by. Consequently, I have never had a decent crop of tomatoes.
Oh, last year I posted Instagram pics of the first tomato in mid-April, just to needle my friends in New England who were still shoveling snow, but the friends might not have noticed that I never posted another garden IG for the rest of the growing season. (In reality they had probably stopped following me because they were fed up with my smug, petty humblebrags.) Later in the season, when I finally wrested a couple of wizened tomatoes away from the birds and the nematodes, I did not whip out the iPhone to capture the moment. We have started the annual tomato ritual optimistic, yet again, as one does, by buying a dozen tomato seedlings from the garden store. Right now they look so adorable: short, green and weed-free. Check back with us next month.
In a small collection of containers by the back porch I have planted a packet of basil seeds because we are a respectable middle-class family, and realize how wonderful fresh basil smells and tastes. But that’s it, the sum total of the 2023 garden. No beans. No peppers. No zucchini. No lofty aspirations, or brag-worthy, IG-influencing, state fair fruit or vegetables. We are going to be honest, responsible consumers, eager patrons of our farmers’ market, bringing our own public television tote bags, and buying organic. I hope to see you there.
Some of you might be lucky enough to live just a stroll or a bike ride away from the market. We have to drive about ten minutes. Last year we decided to have a Saturday road trip, and we drove an hour to try out another town’s market. There is nothing like a little Saturday car ride, with NPR playing softly in the background, as we drove in the sunshine over bridges, past farms and miles of car dealerships, tooling through little towns and hamlets. After one stop for coffee and a Diet Coke, we arrived.
I don’t care if it is 8:30 in the morning, or 3:00 in the afternoon, those wretched kettle corn vendors always stop me in my tracks. Popcorn is such a miracle and a delight, and kettle corn is insidious and always irresistible. Here is my money, give me some fillings, please. This fool soon parted with her cash, and then had the necessary energy required to walk around the couple of dozen white tents nestled under a grove of large oak trees. In the tents were tempting fruits, vegetables, flowers, crafts, live geese and bunnies, organic eggs, jewelry, seafood, and coffees. There was even a live music performance, with a little family jug band: I bet holidays at their house are raucous and joyous events!
We wandered around for a while, saying hello to the many dogs who were behaving so nicely. I fear that Luke the wonder dog might have a little too much energy for such a public outing. The other dogs all seemed inured to the passing variety of people and dogs. There were few surprises for these farmers’ market habitués, as they tagged along with their yoga pants-clad people. An ancient, white-muzzled black lab waddled after its plump, madras shorts-wearing folks. A young springer spaniel struggled to contain himself on a short pink and green leash with its young Lilly Pulitzer family. A mutt (rather like Luke) was sartorial in a bandana; nothing makes a dog look jauntier, I think.
And when we got in the car, hoping that it was time for Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, as we turned toward Luke and home. We could have saved a couple of hours and just buzzed over to the grocery store to make our produce purchases, but it was a worthwhile adventure to get out and meet the folks who raise and grow and dig our food. It was a sunny beginning to summer.
Now it’s your turn. Go out to your farmers’ market tomorrow and buy some kettle corn, some home-churned ice cream and some rhubarb. Pat some dogs. Happy spring!
Cambridge Farmers Market
May – October – Thursdays, 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Farmers’ Market at Long Wharf
Chestertown Farmers’ Market
Saturdays, 8:00 AM to Noon
High & Cross Streets & Fountain Park
St. Michaels Farmers’ Market
Saturdays, 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
206 S. Talbot St., St. Michaels, MD
Easton Farm Market
Saturdays, April 15 – December 17, 8:00 AM-1:00 PM, Rain or Shine
100 Block of North Harrison Street, in the municipal parking lot
Kent Island Farmers’ Market
Thursdays, 3:30 PM-6:30 PM, Winter Hours 3:30-5:30
Cult Classic Brewery, 1169 Shopping Center Rd. in Stevensville
“And what a wonderful relief, every so often, to know who the enemy is.
Because in the garden, the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time.
And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth, and growth, and beauty, and danger, and triumph.
And then everything dies anyway, right?
But you just keep doing it.”
― Anne Lamott