First Trip of the Year to the Local Farmers Market
My wife and I finally had some time this past Saturday to make a trip to the local Farmers Market. Here in Michigan, it’s still early for most locally grown fruits and vegetables, but we needed to pick up some bedding plants. Plus, I knew local asparagus was in season.
We knew where our first stop was going to be. There are a couple of local ladies who put together beautiful hanging baskets of begonias. We have enjoyed them on our screen porch the last couple of years, and we wanted to do so again this year. We had a very good conversation about care of begonias and how much direct sun they could take. That’s one of the great advantages of a local farmers market … a chance to talk with someone who is passionate about what they do and is happy to help others.
From there we decided to take a quick walk through the whole market to see what was for sale on this last Saturday in May. As we had figured, there were many people selling locally grown asparagus. We were able to pick up some for a neighbor of ours. There were also local tomatoes (grown in a greenhouse) and produce that had been picked in southern states and transported to Michigan.
I visited with a couple of vendors that we have a friendship with through our local store, and while I was visiting, my wife made a great discovery. We recently had a local fish shop close here in Muskegon, and we weren’t sure where we would be able to find fresh local fish this summer. There was a vendor selling fish that her brother, a commercial fisherman in northern Michigan, had caught the day before. We were able to pick up an amazing whitefish filet. And now we know where to pick up fresh fish this summer!
From there, we visited a vendor from whom we have bought bedding plants the last couple of years. We picked up some tomato plants as well as some decoratives for planting in various places in our yard. I was also able to get some very good advice about “shade loving” plants for a project I’m tackling in the next couple of weeks. I’ll write about that project in the future.
Today, before heading into the store for an afternoon shift, I grilled the white fish (with a little paprika and white pepper) and some asparagus spears. Together with some chicken- broth flavored rice, it made for a great summer lunch on this unofficial first day of summer.
If you can’t tell already, I am a big fan of local farmers markets. The fresh produce is great, but I think just as important is the opportunity to learn from those who produce (or catch) our food. I would encourage you to get to know the vendors at your local market. Ask good questions. Let them guide you into what is in season and how it might best be utilized. A local farmers market is a rich resource … take advantage of it!
One tip I'll leave you with for trips to the Farmers Market. Even though most vendors will have paper or plastic bags in which to put your purchase, it often helps to carry your own reusable shopping bag. I’ve seen a lot of people at the market with over the shoulder bags like this mesh one, but I enjoy using a bag like this one. It folds flat for storage, but when used, it’s rigid bottom keeps your items from piling up on themselves.