I know for sure it's spring because the farmer's market begins. Yesterday was the first day for our local market. I've been one of their regular customers for over fifteen years now. I am an avid fan of buying local produce and knowing where my food is grown. It's also a social event for me too, a little fresh air, being around all the smiling people, exchanging cooking tips and chatting with the gardeners about what to do with the vegetables and plants in and out of the ground. I try to avoid the conventional grocery stores as much as possible. I start my shopping at the farmer's market, the produce stand, and the health food stores. If I still can't find what I am looking for, I then go to a regular grocery store. This time of year there all the vendors aren't out yet. Crawford Farms will be out with their wonderful sweet strawberries soon. There will be quite a few more tables added each week. The farmer's who sell garden starts and plants are usually the first to show up. There are our bakers though, Homer Bread and Jill from Clatskanie. And there are some folks who have greenhouses and indoor setups like my own that have some produce. I did pick up a couple items yesterday.
It was about 40 degrees but they were out and ready to go. I was glad I wasn't the one who had to stay out there all day, but I was happy they were there.
I passed by Mama Nano's and Hank reached out with a steaming sample of their wonderful sauce. He said I hadn't had my warm sample today. It was so cold I wouldn't have cared if it was vegetarian or not. The steam was so inviting and my hands were so cold, I just wanted to hold it. While talking to him and eating my sample I remembered the Polenta vegetable bake I wanted to make and it called for marinara sauce. I bought a quart of Mama Nano's Caponata Sauce, the vegetarian version and used it in the bake and made some stuffed foccacia bread with it.
He really wanted me to capture that steam.
Some of my favorite farmers:
Jack, one of my favorites, he does a great job all year, carrots, beets, basil, strawberry plants, pumpkins, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, grapes, and more. He sells at both the Cowlitz County and Astoria farmer's markets. He's pretty busy on the weekends and many of us are glad he is. That table will grow in size and in color as the season progresses. His son will come to help out when it gets busier.
Willow Grove Gardens, they already have organic salad greens, lambs quarters, and radishes. I picked up some romaine and some other salad greens while I was visiting. I have had a CSA with them for a few years now. I probably won't do it this year only because I gave away most of what I received last year since our own garden was so successful. I did get many of my plant starts from them last year. There are quite a few things they will grow that I don't or am not as good at, so I will be checking out what they have every week. The young lady in the picture is Mike & Ruth's daughter, both of them working in the freezing cold. The younger daughter was selling her girl scout cookies. The man in the picture introduced himself as one of our town council members. I don't remember his name, but he is a fan of the market and the community garden.
I also picked up some collard greens and some herbs from Eva. Eva is about 87 years old, starts her plants in her attic with lights. She said the same thing I have been saying. The kid's are gone, figured out something great to do with their space. She told me how she would come home from work and just get lost in the gardening and find relaxation. She also has five plots at the community garden. She must have some help, that's a lot of garden.