A chance to buy some of the tastiest food of the summer might be incentive enough to get you moving. The realization that North Texas heat and the widespread drought have taken their toll on local farms and gardens this year might have you hankering for another taste of just-picked peaches or tomatoes. Or maybe it’s time to savor those melons and okra that are being harvested right now.
Okay, it’s August. It’s hot. It hasn’t rained lately. Summer soon will be over and the back-to-school routine looms large on the horizon.
Why not plan to put on some comfortable shoes and get out to a farmers market in your area next week? For at least the next several weekends, there will be fresh, local produce and a multitude of additional vendors at numerous suburban locations – including Frisco, McKinney and Richardson. Those three are on Saturday, but there are mid-week markets in some locales.
Food vendors, while not always at all markets, include those offering local honey, homemade salsa, barbecue sauces, spices and herb blends, jams and jellies, pasta, breads and meats as well as locally-grown fruits and vegetables.
At the Richardson market, located between Nantucket and Floyd on the south side of Campbell Road, one grower from Nevada, Texas, said Saturday, August 4, that the corn is just about gone. It’s dry “and we really need rain,” noted Florida Dias of La Esperanza Farms. The offering this weekend, however, included both red and green tomatoes, beautiful peaches and cherries, and large, healthy Israel melons.
Another local farm, Gilbert-Pruett of Princeton, expects to be offering fresh produce through “about mid-September,” said Troy Gilbert. He added that in Princeton the grower has had sufficient rain to keep most crops healthy and producing. The lines at their booth attest to the “goodness” of the produce.
Much of the appeal of any local market is the friendliness of the vendors, the willingness to talk, offer samples, share stories, and give advice. Bari Bell, who sells a low glycemic, gluten-free sauce called Chocolate Paradise, is pleased to offer a taste as well as rattle off suggestions for its use, from sauce on ice cream to a dip for fresh fruit, to spreading it on a cupcake as frosting. And “it tastes good, too,” she says, even though it’s healthy. She makes all the sauce herself, she noted, at a commercial kitchen in Garland.
Another booth-tender, David Mars, gives information about the Artisan breads “baked fresh this morning” by Empire Baking. Mars explains that his full-time work is as a photographer, but he staffs the booth in Richardson on Saturday mornings because it’s so much fun.
A spectacular carved watermelon made to look like a rose was the work of Chintana Chatchatree, who proudly displayed an album of edible sculptures done by Pro Fruit for functions and special gifts.
The crafts booths are well worth a visit as well. One can buy natural bath and body products, jewelry, soaps, clothing and garden décor, among other items. Again, it’s a festive atmosphere, and everyone smiles. There is no hurry at the morning market. One of the crafts booths sells “potato bags,” made to use in a microwave oven so the potato will taste more like the slow-baked-in-the-oven variety. Also, prominently displayed, was a hand-stitched apron reading, “Save the earth; it’s the only planet with chocolate!”
Even if you buy nothing, visiting a local farmers market is a way to get out of the house, enjoy a stroll, breathe fresh air, and soak up some sunshine before the day becomes unbearably hot. And if you shop, chances are good that you will bring home some delicious, locally-grown healthy food for the family table. What could be better?
As a side note, most local markets will be open at least until early October. Richardson’s market is open throughout the year – it just might not be as pleasant if it snows! White Rock Local Market is another, open the second and fourth Saturday of each month from March until December.