Farmers markets are starting to remind me of past boyfriends – just when you get to know them, they change. Let’s face it, there are farmers markets and then there are the big boys, like Santa Monica, Chicago, Santa Fe, Seattle, Portland, New York City… (just to mention a few of my favs). But at the top of my list has always been the Waitsfield Farmers Market in the Mad River Valley of Vermont.
The Waitsfield Market is as popular as ever, but for me, this past weekend, it just wasn’t the same. We strolled as a family, selected beautiful produce for our dinner and enjoyed our time, but the magic was not there for any of us. The local wood and metal artist no longer has a booth; the woman who hand-painted salad bowls has sold her business and moved on; my daughter’s favorite crepe maker was gone without a trace; and the live music directed toward young children, which once I’m sure I enjoyed, simply made me sad to realize that my own girls have grown too old for rhyming lyrics set to the strum of a ukulele.
I’m not breaking up with the Waitsfield Farmers Market and look forward to returning in a few weeks to stock up on maple syrup and perhaps some local craft beer, but in the meantime, I’ve started wondering, what would the perfect farmers market look like? And this is what I came up with.
1. Local farmers: two or three purveyors selling a variety of organic (or cleanly grown) fruits and vegetables.
2. Locally produced and foraged items: mushrooms, honey, maple syrup, jams, herbs, flowers, seedlings…
3. Locally made artisan food products: perhaps some goat cheese, hot sauces, fermented foods, breads and specialty items that inspire (some I’ve come across include dried hot peppers, tea and herb blends, dehydrated and powdered leeks, infused sugars and honeys…).
4. Specialty cheese. Just in case you didn’t pick that up from my previous post, my family wants to make sure I put this in here.
5. Fruit pies. If there are pies at a market, I’ll buy one, every time. Pies are the quintessential summer dessert, and while I can make one anytime, I can enjoy a day with my family and still serve dessert if I buy a pie at the farmers market.
6. Live music. Just about any style (evidently, with minimal rhyming) is an excuse to relax and stay awhile (maybe even eat that pie before I leave!).
7. Gift items. I love meeting local artists and seeing their crafts, plus I always need a gift for someone (or a splurge for myself).
8. Community. I want to connect with what’s going on in the community and learn about different causes and organizations each week.
9. Crepes. Okay, so maybe this one isn’t essential at every farmers market, but it’s such a family tradition for us that I had to include it in my dream market.
10. Sunshiney Days…because sometimes I’m on the other side of the tent sampling clean food recipes and signing cookbooks and I without a doubt, rain and humidity don’t mix well with paper books!
What are some of YOUR favorite farmers markets and farmers market vendors? Perhaps if we dream them together, they will happen!
Eat clean live well!