There’s something special about purchasing the food that nourishes and sustains our bodies and souls directly from the growers who have carefully coaxed it from the earth. Every person who works closely with the earth invests not only their own time and energy but also a bit of themselves into what they grow—somehow making the end product all the more savory.
In my hometown of Kennebunk, Maine, our local farmers’ market is open from early May to mid-November each year. It’s open each Saturday morning from 8AM-1PM-rain or shine, and you can bet that’s where you’ll find me during that time.
In addition to the fresh local and organic fruits and vegetables such as lettuce, tomato, garlic, greens, berries, potatoes, corn, peas, radish, beans and peppers, you can find local products such as Maine maple syrup and honey; fresh and dried herbs; locally crafted cheeses and farm raised meats. These offerings can include: certified organic chicken; pork sausage; lamb sausage; lamb cuts; grass-fed black Angus beef; and fresh off the boat seafood here in Maine—including lobster. The meat vendors often have a wok hot and ready, as they are constantly cooking samples of the meats available that day.
The smell of the simmering seasoned meats and the freshly baked homemade breads and pastry goods permeate the market place air, enticing shoppers. Delicious soups, sauces, pickles and relishes are also ready to sample and purchase if desired. Certified organic eggs and goat milk products are in abundance at the market.
Cut flowers, potted flowers and dried flowers; seasonal arrangements and seasonal products such as pussy willows and rhubarb in the spring; blueberry pies in the summer; and apples, pumpkins, gourds and ciders in the fall all pay tribute to the changing seasons in a time-honored tradition.
You can even find products that are not so easy to find in mainstream supermarkets. Un-pasteurized milk; home churned butter; wild mushrooms; and handmade candies are just a few of the offerings. The available products are diverse, ever expanding and harvested and available at the peak time of flavor perfection while in season. Each week Maine Master Gardener volunteers are also at the market to answer your general growing and gardening questions free of charge.
Annual special events are a part of the Kennebunk Farmers’ Market each year: A “Sheep and Spinning Day” demonstrates wool products from start to finish, and even has a sheep shearing demonstration. “Raising Backyard Poultry” day is another fun event, which offers information and resources for the popular hobby of raising chickens and harvesting eggs at home. Chicks, chickens and other friendly fowl, which are ideally suited to home rearing, are there to see, touch and interact with. Egg harvesting tips and egg specimens are present. Sample coops are set up and seasoned back yard chicken experts stand by, eager to answer any and all questions related to successfully raising backyard poultry.
Visiting a local farmers’ market is a great way to get out and enjoy the freshest of everything—from food to flowers. Meet the people who reap what they sow for a living and as a life style. Savor the fresh air and friendly atmosphere that abounds at your local farmers’ market—where you can treat yourself to the bounty of all that the good earth has to offer—right in your own backyard.
Read Christine Chitnis’s picks for the top ten Farmers’ Markets in New England, and check out these sites for info on the markets in your area: