Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Farmers' Market

What a wet shopping day! Since I took over cooking for the household back in December, I’ve done the grocery shopping on Wednesdays. Yesterday, it happened to be raining quite hard during my excursion.

My shopping trip usually includes visits to a Mennonite grocery store, to the Lewisburg Farmers’ Market, to the nearly adjacent recycling center, and to Weis Market, the local branch of a typical grocery chain that originates in Pennsylvania. My favorite stop by far is the Lewisburg Farmers’ Market.

The Farmers’ Market is a very long building with vendor tables along the walls, and more tables marking stands along the center of the building. There are stands outside, many along the north side of the building, several more forming a courtyard in front (to the east of the building), and a couple more spilling along the south side of the building. Beyond these outdoor stands is a dirt and gravel parking lot.

The Farmers’ Market is open only on Wednesdays. It draws farmers and vendors from all over central Pennsylvania. Shop there through a year, and you can track the seasons up the east coast as produce arrives from points south months before the same items will ripen here. The best produce at the market, however, is whatever’s in season locally.

We’ve already overdosed on fresh strawberries, and have had no problem with the segue into cherry season (and the overlapping blueberry season). On the vegetable side, we’ve been chowing fresh peas and new potatoes, and we did in a quart of wax beans over the past week. Local peaches are available, though we’re early in peach season, and local sweet corn started appearing at the market a week ago.

The available options will continue to change, but our farmers grow nearly every vegetable and fruit the local climate allows; we’ll see great variety all the way into winter. And, if you think something’s in season but you don’t see it at the market, ask one of the vendors and the item might be available next Wednesday.

The Farmers’ Market is more than a great produce-shop. Inside, there is a stand dedicated to serving hundreds—perhaps thousands of sausage sandwiches each Wednesday. Get to the market early, and the whole building smells like cooking sausage. Get there around lunch time, and a crowd surrounds the stand. Folks buy sandwiches, then chat with fellow shoppers as they lean against the counter. For many, this is the Farmers’ Market experience... who needs produce when you have a sausage sandwich?

At the Farmers’ Market you can buy meat, seafood, candy, cheese, spices, kitchen gadgets, soft pretzels, deep-fried potatoes, antiques, tools, all-for-a-dollar items, soaps, clothing, vacuum cleaner parts, hand-made crafts, and baked goods. The prices are good, and the vendors are usually friendly—even during heavy rain when canopies of the outdoor vendors stream sheets of water through which customers must step to reach the tables. Sure, I got soaked, but still the Farmers’ Market was the high point of my shopping chore.

For the complete City Slipper experience, please visit my web site at

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