Find fresh produce, friendly folks and fun at Farmers Markets

Whether purchased from a one-table produce stand or a conventional Farmers Market, fresh produce is one of summer’s greatest gifts. And, as more and more people are now becoming aware of the freshness and flavor of vegetables, berries, etc. obtained from Farmers Markets – shopping at local, seasonal markets is becoming quite trendy, somewhat habit-forming. My husband and I both love going to Farmers Markets. It’s not a new fad for us because we have always enjoyed eating and cooking with fresh vegetables; also, being vegetarians we crave for a variety and some unique vegetables which we cannot often find anywhere else, and of course to support local growers and farmers. Although I will admit, that hanging out at such places, is sometimes a Saturday morning activity for us.

Every spring, we wait for the opening day of the market in Petersburg which is closest to where we live. Sure enough, one of us is there first thing in the morning, at times even before some vendors get a chance to unload their trucks and display their wares.  More often than not, we run into friends or acquaintances who share the same passion, get caught in conversation and thus totally lose track of time. Being a small market, we have befriended some of the vendors and gotten to know them either by name or by face which makes the visit even more personal and fun. Aside from vegetables and other produce, here one can also find fresh flowers, annuals, perennials, herbs and some exotic plants which are hard to resist.

This summer, when I learn about a special place to get local produce, I made sure to make a mental note not to miss the opportunity:  Presented for a limited time only (July 18, July 25 and August 1) by the 2013 Farm Stars Entrepreneurship Program of VSU College of Agriculture and aptly called the Farm Stars Cash and Carry Farmers Market, the venue is Randolph Farm which is a part of the campus. Neatly laid on tables under a small white tent that is pitched at the premises of the farm, one can find assortment of vegetables such as tomatoes, several kinds of peppers, eggplants, onions, tomatillos, melons, watermelon and berries. In addition to this array of produce, Farm Stars Cash and Carry also offers bitter melon, an Asian vegetable, generally not seen in supermarkets here. Everything is grown and picked fresh from the farm, sold at unbelievably low prices.

In fact, just a few weeks back, I attended the Vegetable and Berry Day at Randolph Farm and got a firsthand look at raspberries planted in high tunnels as well as bitter melons hanging on vines in neat rows in the field; it is indeed a privilege to see fresh produce in production which is brought to our tables.

Speaking of fresh produce on our tables, this season, unlike any other year before, we have planted a small garden in raised beds and some other parts of our yard where we normally grow flowers. Thank goodness for the perpetual rain, we are so excited to have the opportunity of picking fresh vegetables on a regular basis. Needless to say, most everything gets consumed the same day. 

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