Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fall Farmers Markets

Farmers markets change throughout the year. As the Mid-South’s seasons change from the often oppressive hot and humid summer to a cool and crisp fall, area farmers converge on parking lots and convert them into tent-covered markets. Farmers markets attract large crowds of citizens browsing fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, canned foods, jams, jellies, nuts, mushrooms, fresh meats, cheeses, eggs, locally roasted coffees, potted plants, cut flowers, and handmade items. Peace bee farm sells honey and bee hive products at farmers markets. The markets provide a variety of goods not often found in a single location. For many, the freshness and quality of items produced on local farms makes farmers markets attractive. Fresh fruit and vegetables are usually harvested the afternoon before the market. Farmers often bring to market produce varieties that are not regularly found in grocery stores. Cool season greens are in abundance at the farmers market. At this week’s market, I counted a dozen varieties of greens and eight varieties of lettuce being offered. In today’s photo, Hattie displays the proper way to wear Yukina Savoy, an Asian green, while her mother, Lori, sells beets, turnips, onions, radishes, sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, peppers, cabbage, bok choy, mustard, Swiss chard, lettuce, and mixed greens from Downing Hollow Farms.

Memphis’ Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market,, invites area farmers to bring their produce; and they also provide a place for urban farms and non-profit groups to sell produce grown on vacant city lots and goods produced by groups like the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis. The club’s young culinary students prepare local sweet potato pecan cheesecake, pumpkin ginger walnut cheesecake, red velvet cookies, and pumpkin cookies. The market uses grants to help double the spending power for citizens eligible to participate in nutritional assistance programs. We look forward to the interaction between farmers and the public all year long. The public notices the market’s seasonal change from tomatoes and sweet corn to greens and sweet potatoes.

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