This is an ideal time of year to shop at the farmers’ market. Here in southeastern Massachusetts, the harvest is in full swing. Most vendors offer a wide selection of fresh produce, much of which is picked the same day it is brought to market. Cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, green and yellow beans, tomatoes, potatoes, onions . . . Stop by any farmers’ market and you are sure to find a bounty of these items – as fresh as can be, and super-tasty.
Shopping the farmers’ market is a wonderful sensory experience. You will see all sorts of vibrant colors, and smell fresh flowers and herbs. Many vendors offer food samples, so you can taste a chocolate cherry tomato, for example, or a bite of fresh blueberry pie. Some markets also offer live music. Most feature crafts, jewelry, and other retail items for sale.
In addition to satisfying your own needs for food and entertainment, shopping the farmers’ market is an excellent way to support the local economy. Although some area retailers stock locally grown produce, most truck or ship the majority of their fruits and vegetables in from California or other regions with long growing seasons. But at the farmers’ market, everything is local. Your dollars go directly into the farmers’ pocket, helping him or her to run the farm and support the family. It feels good to make such personal transactions.
Farmers’ markets can be social too. My son and I visit the Marshfield Farmers’ Market every Friday afternoon. Our first stop is the table for Rise and Shine Farm, from which my family purchased a farm-share in the spring. That means that each week we receive a full bag of fresh, organic produce grown right down the street from our house, in Marshfield. While there, we learn what’s ripening on the farm, find out about volunteer opportunities, and perhaps share a recipe or two.
Our next stop is organic grower Summer Dreams Farm, also based in Marshfield, where we buy additional herbs and veggies. Summer Dreams often offers unusual crops like squash blossoms, mulberries, and multi-colored swiss chard, plus a more typical array of greens, tomatoes, squashes and so on. While I chat with owner Lorrie Gampp, Abel ducks into the shade under her farm stand, to flirt with the other customers and watch for familiar faces.
By then, Abel is itching for his weekly treat from Carver Farm, which offers Marshfield-made breads, pies, baked goods and jellies. This year we can’t get enough of Sally’s cinnamon buns, with a 25-cent cup of lemonade or iced tea to wash them down. From there, we visit with Lynda Everett of Today’s Harvest (based in – you guessed it – Marshfield!). While Abel demonstrates his performance skills (lately he sings songs from “Mary Poppins” – and dances too) I stock up on tomatoes and sweet white cucumbers, one of Lynda’s specialties. The Everett children are often on hand too, ever-friendly.
All of this food is grown or produced right here in town. You can’t get more local than that.
We round out our shopping trip by buying more produce from Costa Farm and Freitas Farm, from Plympton and Middleboro, and from anyone else that might help us complete our shopping list. We could have gone to the grocery store and tossed similar stuff into our cart, and been in and out in twenty minutes. But instead we spent an hour outdoors — making friends, sharing stories, and doing a small part to enrich the local economy. Perhaps the best part of shopping at the farmers’ market is that it makes us feel good.
Consider stopping by your local farmers’ market before the season ends, mid-fall. You’ll be glad that you did.
Local Farmers” Markets:
Braintree: Town Hall, Washington Street; Saturday, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm through 10/31.
Carver: Shurtleff Park, Route 58, across from Town Hall; Sunday, Noon – 4:00 pm
Cohasset: Cohasset Common, Main Street; Thursday, 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm through October 8.
Duxbury: Tarkiln Community Center Grounds, Route 53; Wednesday, 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm through 10/14.
Hanover: Hanover Mall, Circuit City parking lot; Saturday. 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Hingham: Bathing Beach Parking lot on Rt. 3A; Saturday, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
through 11/21; and Downtown Square; Wednesday, 10 am – 2:00 pm
Hull: Nantasket Ave. (Bayside) between Bay and Edgewater; Friday, 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm through 9/11.
Marshfield: Marshfield Fairgrounds, Route 3A; Friday, 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm through 10/16.
Plymouth: Stephen’s Field, off Route 3A near Plymouth Center; Thursday, 2:30 pm- 6:30 pm through 10/29; and Courthouse Green on Court Street; Saturday, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm through October 31.
Quincy: Quincy Center, J. Hancock Parking lot, across from the Court House; Friday 11:30 am – 5:30 pm through 11/20.
Weymouth: Town Hall, 75 Middle Street; Saturday, 9:00 am -1:00 pm through 10/24.
By Kezia Bacon-Bernstein, Correspondent
Kezia Bacon-Bernstein’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 13 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com.