Friday was Farmers’ Market day. We’d eaten pretty much everything in the refrigerator. The caterpillars had my herbs. There were no ripe grape tomatoes on my plant. I definitely needed someone else’s produce if we were to have salads and snacks. It was glorious weather again, no hurricane near us yet. So I grabbed 2 bags and headed up to the market.
I almost thought that it was going to be that rarity – a day when I saw no one I knew. I’d already picked up a few things when I realized I was staring at my next door neighbors. 🙂 We stood about chatting, as one does at the market. Larry took photos of us. This is apparently his “new thing” – documenting his life. Hah! He’s only half-way there. He needs to add commentary!
As we chatted my good friends Matt and Janice came up. Their block was having their annual block party that weekend (yes, we went – it was great). Matt was walking about with a big huge watermelon and Janice had a sack full of eggplant for parmigiana. We’d probably have talked a lot longer, the market is so conducive for chatting, but Janice had an appointment she had to attend.
I had finished picking my cukes, radishes and tomatoes when I heard someone calling my name. It was Bruce, who does occasional fix-it-up work for me. I hadn’t seen him in ages, it seems. I guess having a new kitchen cuts back on repairs. 🙂 We agreed we’d meet up at the block party.
We had plans to go out to dinner with friends that night, so I didn’t need to do any food preparation once I got home. I decided to make a still life portrait of my purchases. The only thing not immediately recognizable are the pickles. Dr. Pickle is always at the farmers’ market. Thank goodness. Nothing like a good half sour pickle for a snack!
Many of the towns in our area have a day designated for the local farmers to bring the produce to town. After all, New Jersey IS The Garden State. I’ll tell you right now – I will put out NJ tomatoes against ANY tomatoes in the world – ours are the BEST. Our town has been doing this for several years now on Fridays. The hours have stayed the same, 11-5, but we now have the market from the first Friday in June through the last Friday in November (or maybe it is even the first Friday in December). The vendors have increased as well.
Besides the great farm produce (and it IS great – at least 5 different farms come in, including organic produce), we have bread, cheese, fish and a knife grinder. 🙂 I think it was last year when the food trucks began appearing. The smells are fantastic and make you buy even more because you get so hungry! Now there are specialty dog biscuits, clothes, vinegars, sometimes one of the NJ vineyards comes by, jams, nuts and spices. For several years there was a mushroom vendor as well, where I learned about many varieties I’d never seen before. And of course the pickle guy, with fantastic pickles (I like half sour) and pickled everything else. Sometimes there is even live music (a mixed blessing 🙂 ).
But perhaps the BEST part of the market is seeing all my friends and neighbors. I’d been at the doctor’s office (checking up on that pesky kidney stone) in the morning. I headed from there to the market. As I waited for some place to park the car, I chatted with my neighbor from down the block. When I headed to the stalls, I saw the doctor and her receptionist. I heard someone call my name and it was my friend from the other side of town (we’re due to have dinner together this week). Then *I* saw someone and called a name and my favorite veterinarian turned around. I have NEVER been to the market without encountering someone fun. I used to love to bring my dog up there too, because there are doggie water dishes put out by many of the stalls. We often end up with a stuffed bread (mozzarella, spinach, garlic) for dinner on a Friday. Or fresh cheese, bread and sun-warmed tomatoes. It is such a wonderful community event, and positive in so many ways. I think that it might have had a rocky start this year as we had so many wet Fridays (I was too wimpy to brave the rain – for all I know they may have done great 🙂 ) but the last few Fridays have been spectacular. It’s a wonderful way to end the work week – walking up to the market, seeing friends, and coming home with delicious goodies!
I do the majority of the grocery shopping for our household. I use a shopping list, I check the shelves and stocks before I go. While I shop I have a general idea of the week ahead – what I think we’ll be doing, what meals will be needed. Yet somehow I always seem to be led astray in the produce department. The fresh fruits and vegetables are so appealing that I’m SURE we will be running short before the next grocery trip. I’m often wrong in that assumption. A few years ago I began composting. This has alleviated a lot of my guilt about ‘wasting’ the produce we don’t eat. I don’t consider composting “wasting”. I love to garden, I need fresh soil every spring. It’s my own little circle of life – produce to dirt to produce.