Friday, June 15, 2012

Joys of Summer: Farmstands & Farmer's Markets

Acton-Boxborough Farmer's Market

This week marks the start of the local farmer's market season. The Acton-Boxborough Farmer's Market will open on Sunday, and if history is any indication, it will be a glorious event. The streets will be thronged with cheerful vendors, happy customers, nuzzling dogs, and various performers. The stands will be bursting with tempting local foods. Money will change hands, and hard work will be rewarded.

I love these events. I grew up around farmers and have maintained a lifelong interest in farms and farming. My parents owned a large farm in Portland, Pennsylvania, which was surrounded by other farms. The sights, sounds, and smells of farming life are a delight to me. Some suburbanites smell manured fields and think, "Ick!" I think, "Spring has sprung!"

For years, I watched small farms  struggle and die, the younger generation striking out in new directions. Today, though, many farmers have found new livelihoods as a result of the growing interest in fresh local foods.

Farmer's Markets can be found all over Massachusetts. On any given weekend, I can probably hit two or three. In addition, local farmstands are springing up again, and many are thriving. Years ago, I lived down the street from a small farm stand that grew smaller each year. Then the folks at Idylewilde Farms took over the site, and today it is flourishing.

Carrots at a local farmstand
Smaller establishments are also going strong. I live within walking distance to two farmstands, one run by Stanley Farms and the other by the Burroughs Farm. Both offer pesticide free vegetables that are as gorgeous as they are tasty. A few miles down the road is Small Farm, where I buy not only food but also giant bouquets of cut flowers that I choose myself.

Recently, I read that farmer's markets have become so abundant in a few places that they are creating problems for the vendors; if a dozen vendors all sell lettuce in one area, prices will fall and an individual vendor may not flourish. However, enough farmers are developing special niches, such as Asian vegetables, or berries, or goat milk products, that I think the problem may sort itself out.

Meanwhile, I will take advantage of the season and make sure my wallet has some small bills and my car contains reusable bags. You never know when you will pass a farmstand or market that speaks to you.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Liz, for sharing this and for the bottom line tips! I love farm stands, and if they have home made ice-cream, even better! LOL