Fresh Food, Fun, and Farmers
Apparently, I have never been to a farmers market. My spouse, who has known me half my life, says so, so it must be true.
“But what about the Corn Lady, who sells the magnificent corn we eat every week during the corn season?” She looks at me like I am the village idiot. “That is a produce stand.”
“Oh,” I say, having no idea what she’s getting at.
So, a produce stand consists of one farmer selling fruits or vegetables of the day. A farmers market, she patiently explains, consists of “vendors, lots of them, each selling their own stuff.”
“Stuff, what stuff?” I ask. And the next minute I’m being whisked off to my first farmers market.
She decides on the Rehoboth Farmers Market. All that means is that she will shop and I will find a place to sit down and wait. I mean, a vegetable is a vegetable. I’ve had plenty of them in my lifetime, so I know what I’m talking about.
I will admit now that I don’t know what I’m talking about.
First thing we do is chat with Pat Coluzzi, the Market Master, who created this market 14 years ago with 14 vendors and which now boasts 45. Farmers come from as much as 100 miles away to sell their “stuff,” a term I will not be using any more. The items these vendors are putting out in front of me are a surprise—a happy one.
So I’m talking with Pat, who is telling me about the flash mob they had a few weeks back. I hear a singer-guitarist playing somewhere in the distance, which catches my ear. Then Pat says something about pizza and popcorn, and I’m off. I did say thank you.
It turns out that a farmers market is really interesting. As I am running down the aisle towards the pizza oven, I find myself stopping from table to table, encountering a dizzying array of offerings, and friendly vendors telling me things I didn’t have any idea about.
I hope I know more about parenting, or sports, than I do about farmers market fare. Did you know that Tunisian olive oil (sold by an actual Tunisian vendor and the first Tunisian I have ever met) is really special?
Did you know there are at least five different kinds of blueberries? I thought there was only one kind, the little blue ones that look like berries. Now, I can name five: Duke, Spartan, Draper, Blueray, and Bluecrop. I can’t decide whether they’re named after dogs or video equipment.
And there’s more! Patty pan squash is round and flat. Broccoli crowns can be the size of bowling balls. Green beans are really long. Different kinds of honey are made by bees working on different kinds of flowers.
And if you ever want to use a vegetable as a weapon, choose rhubarb. Who knew it looked like that?
There are all kinds of nature-made foods here. Vegetables (organic, hydroponic, and the kind I usually eat). Breads and pastries. Herbs and spices. Anything you can fit in a jar. Even doggie shampoo. This is Rehoboth, after all.
And the vendors are fascinating. Ada’s is run by Mary Ada. Ada is her grandmother, and Mary sells things made from her grandma’s recipes. Duane drives 68 miles to get to Rehoboth with his farm fresh eggs, leaving Nanticoke at 6:30 in the morning (I didn’t even know there was a 6:30 in the morning).
Claudia comes from Philadelphia to sell “smackaroons,” and thanks to me, she almost runs out of samples. Henry, who works Bennett Orchards in Frankford, has the best blueberries south of Maine. Paul is a personal chef, sommelier, and guitarist. And the Clucas family might have the best story. Dad Clucas fishes for salmon in Alaska, which he vacuum-packs and sends to his daughter to sell here. Now that’s a family business!
So what are the best things about a farmers market? Every vendor I chat with comes up with the same three answers. Fresh food, a sense of community, and happy customers.
I would venture a fourth answer, the pizza. As one vendor says, “who comes to a farmers market and isn’t happy?” I know now that I’d never been to a farmers market. But apparently, now I have.
There are several nice farmers markets in our area. The Rehoboth Farmers Market is full of surprises and really fun to run through. It’s open every Tuesday in-season from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s located in Grove Park behind the Visitor Center right off the circle. Free parking!!! Great playground there for the kids. Have a blueberry on me! ▼