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The Farmers Market is back!

The Farmers Market at Riverside Park (Provided photo —Yvona Fast)

The unofficial start of summer at the end of May marks the beginning of the summer Farmers Market, with local produce and other local products. Never has it been more welcome than this year, amid the covid pandemic.

2020 was the first year we had a winter market — with fewer vendors than in the park, crammed into the Hotel Saranac lobby. Then the new corona virus wreaked its havoc and everything shut down. The Farmers Market turned into the Farmers Park-It. Customers ordered food from local producers online, paid by credit card, then drove to the hotel where volunteers put your order in your car.

It was the best solution under the circumstances — but it was more work and less fun. The vendors had different systems: some had shopping carts on their websites, others sent you an invoice that you had to look for in your email. You had to order a minimum amount. Sometimes, orders did not arrive or got mixed up.

It is nice to see the Farmers Market back at Riverside Park. The pandemic has brought some new regulations, but it is the same market, and it is good to see most of our vendors again!

Vendors are spaced apart from each other. There are no pets and no bikes. Traffic is one-way and you can’t run through the middle from vendor to vendor. Only one customer is allowed at each vendor booth at a time, so lines often form. You can’t touch the produce — but at least you can see it! And it goes without saying that everyone — producers and buyers alike — all wear masks.

Traditionally, the Farmers Market is a place to meet your neighbors and friends, and get to know your local farmers. This year, social distancing rules make this more of a challenge. Congregating and socializing is discouraged. But you can still talk to your friends from a distance. You can get to know the farmers and find out about products you’re less familiar with, adding to your knowledge about healthy eating.

Buying at the farmers market is a win-win for everyone. Farmers win because they pocket a greater share of the retail price than selling wholesale through middlemen. Buying local supports our region’s economy.

Consumers win because they get the best, freshest farm fare and products not available in stores — unique products and heirloom varieties. Fresh, local products have many advantages. The first is the superior taste and nutrition; produce shipped cross-country in refrigerated trucks loses both taste and nutrients by the time it reaches the supermarket.

Local meat is more expensive — but with meat-packing plants closed because of the global pandemic, it’s the best and healthiest option. Our local producers are small farmers, not factory farms where animals are raised in unsanitary conditions and fed medications to keep them alive.

The planet wins because buying locally saves resources such as gasoline used for trucking and material used for packaging.

The community wins because more of your dollar will stay in the community. You hand your money to the person who grew your food. You develop relationships between those who grew the food and those who will eat it. Farmers markets are a community experience.

What will you find? Everything! Bread and baked goods. Wine and beer. Honey and maple syrup. Local meat, eggs, yogurt and cheese. Fermented foods like pickles, kimchi and kraut.

Fresh, seasonal produce from our region a hallmark of summer cuisine. Later in the season, there will be more fresh produce like tomatoes and squash. But there is plenty to choose from already: all types of greens, from spinach, chard and lettuce to kale, pea shoots and arugula; fresh herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro; young, tender beets; cucumbers, radishes, scallions. Come out on Saturday morning, and see for yourself!

Fresh chevre

and radish sandwich

For each person:

1 slice whole-grain bread

1 – 2 teaspoons fresh chevre cheese

1 – 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped chives or greens from scallions

1 large or 2 small radishes, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice bread. Spread with fresh chevre (if you don’t have chevre you can use cream cheese). Scatter chives or scallions, top with radishes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and eat!

Option: For a heartier meal add sliced hard-cookeed eggs.

Fresh Chard or

Spinach Frittata

This recipe is for freshly harvested, tender young greens.

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup water

10 oz. tender greens from fresh Swiss chard or spinach

1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese

1/2 Tablespoon butter or olive oil

Directions:

Beat eggs with milk, salt, and a little water. Remove the tough stems; wash and chop the leaves and stir into the eggs, in batches. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese.

Melt butter in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Immediately pour in the egg and greens mixture, cover with a tight fitting lid, and lower the heat to low. Cook until eggs are set, about 10-15 minutes.

Option: Sautee 1/2 diced onion, 1 cup sliced chard stems, and / or 1 cup sliced mushrooms in butter for 5 – 7 minutes before adding the greens-egg mixture.

Serve with boiled parslied potatoes, fresh baguette or other fresh bread from the market. Serves 2 for lunch, a light supper or a hearty breakfast.

Author of the award-winning cookbook Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market, Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be reached on facebook at words are my world or by email at yvonawrites@yahoo.com.

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