Not Your Grandmother’s Farmers Market

With spring’s arrival, my thoughts turn to planting a garden. I love gardens, and it doesn’t matter what kind: flower, bee, vegetable, whatever. I have fond memories of my Grandma Walter’s huge garden filled with green beans, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, strawberries, and what else I can’t remember anymore. Unfortunately, while I received her crafty, DIY, and gardening soul, I didn’t inherit her green thumb. My vegetable/fruit gardens have been dismal failures except for growing green beans.

When my boys were young, planting a garden was a spring break tradition. Each kiddo picked what he wanted to grow and together we nurtured the small plot along. Again, as I said with limited success, but what mattered was doing the project together. Now that my sons are on their own, planting a garden isn’t the same.

My son Zachary and the carrots he grew one year.

With my grim gardening skills, I’ve started doing the next best thing to growing my own fruits and vegies. I shop Farmers Markets. By doing so, not only do I get fresh produce at a great price, but the farmer receives more for his product. A win-win! But these “farmers” markets have broadened their horizons. No longer are they a group of folks selling produce from the back of pickups along the roadside. A lot are big shopping events. Communities, apartment complexes, and mall parking lots now host these farmers markets. They still have tomatoes, peaches, apples, green beans, squash along with an array of other fruits and vegetables. But now, they have products you might be as surprised as I was to find. Here are some of my favorites non fruit or vegetable items.

  • Candles
  • Plants for my house or yard
  • Pottery (I bought my mother-in-law a cool mug with a bird on it for Christmas last year.)
  • Honey
  • Dog treats, dog bandanas and other dog related items (I buy something from these vendors almost every time because you know me…I have a house full of dogs!)
  • Lotion candle (I love these, but they’re hard to find. When the candle melts  the warm liquid is lotion!)
  • Jewelry
  • Bath products: soap, body wash, shampoo, lotion, lip balm, bath salts

                           

 

Talk about one stop shopping!

To be entered in the giveaway for the cool T-shirt, yes I have this one, too, leave a comment on this question. What’s the most unique or your favorite produce item to buy at a farmers’ market?

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Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.

41 thoughts on “Not Your Grandmother’s Farmers Market”

  1. I buy cucumbers, tomatoes and patty pan squash. There are only a few farmers who grow it. God bless you.

    • Debra, I love getting tomatoes at a farmers market. They have so much more flavor than the ones I buy in the store. Every year I buy tomato plants but I don’t get any tomatoes until fall. Then the frost comes and that’s the end of that. Thanks for stopping by today.

    • Melanie, I’ll have to look for salsa when I go next time! I’m sure the flavor is better and it has way less preservatives than what we buy in grocery stores. Thanks for stopping by and the tip.

  2. Our local Farmers’ Market had a booth last year by the local lavender farm. They had the usual lavender soaps, sachets, etc. They also had baked good with lavender (bread, scones) and lavender wine. The wine was pretty good.

    • Patricia, thanks for stopping by today. I’ve always wanted to visit a lavender farm. I don’t think we’ve even begun to realize all the ways lavender can help us. I use the essential oil all the time for its calming properties. I’m not a huge floral person, but that’s the one flower I love the scent of. I bet the baked goods were heavenly, and I’ll try any kind of wine. I’m going to put visiting a lavender farm on my bucket list right now! Thanks for sharing about the one near you! Stay safe.

    • Denise, your comment reminds me that the Saturday pop up market where my mom’s girlfriend lived had small, individual fried pies. I couldn’t resist the cherry for an every once in a while treat. Thank you for stopping by today. Take care and stay safe.

    • Charlene, I forgot to add jam to my list of favorites! That’s another thing I love to buy at a farmers market. I can find all kinds of wonderful variations that grocery stores don’t offer. I love when I find rhubarb because that brings back wonderful childhood memories. My grandmother made the most wonderful rhubarb sauce, pie, and jam. Thanks for stopping by and reminding me of those great memories. Take care and stay safe.

  3. I love fresh veggies and fruit. Especially tomatoes, jalapeños, cucumbers, watermelon, & cantaloupe. I love to buy those funny large strange squash that grow, slice them I. Half, butter, salt, pepper, & season salt and either bake or wrap in foil and put on the grill. Yum, yum!

    • Tonya, I don’t think vegies and fruit bought straight from the farmer can be beat unless you grow them yourself. I still dream of growing greens, tomatoes, and carrots so I can go into my garden and harvest a salad for dinner. Sigh. The squash sounds fabulous. I’ll have to give that a try this summer! When it’s 100 degrees outside the more things we can throw on the grill, the better. Anything to avoid heating up the oven! Thanks for stopping by and for the squash recipe. Take care and stay safe.

  4. I love to buy green peppers. My grandpa had a green thumb and I remember his gardens were beautiful. He would always try to get me to ear a green pepper and I would think he was trying to trick me with a hot one so I would never eat it. Now I love green peppers and everytime I eat one I think of him and smile. However I, like you, did not inheret the green thumb. So I don’t garden.

    • Dale, what a sweet memory! I’m guessing your grandpa had a sense of humor and was a bit of a trickster? He sounds similar to my father. He was one we always had to watch out for, and it would’ve been just like him to slip us a hot pepper. I bet when he looks down and sees you eating those peppers now, he smiles and chuckles a bit. Thank you for sharing the memory. Take care and stay safe.

    • Oooh, I forgot that a lot of the farmers markets I’ve been to sell burritos, tacos, and tamales. There’s one I’ve been to lately that sells homemade pasta. I haven’t tried it yet because when I’ve been there, they’ve been out of the ones I want to try like spinach. Thanks for stopping by today. Now I’m hungry for a burrito. Lol. Take care and stay safe.

  5. I haven’t heard anything about my town’s farmer’s market opening up this year. I always love fresh tomatoes. i can eat them for a meal. The most unique item I found at our market was a guy drawing people. My husband and I sat for him once and I have the picture hanging in our bedroom.

    • Janine, being in Texas, our markets have opened earlier. They’re one of the few places I’ve felt comfortable going with them being outside and most folks wearing masks. I love that you took the time to sit for the artist. A lot of people think about it, but don’t want to spend the time. I love when markets broaden their horizons to include neat booths like artists. Thanks for stopping by. Take care and stay safe.

    • Debra, I love the corn on the cob, too. It seems what I buy in the grocery store can’t compare. I was spoiled because my grandfather would plant a little sweet corn on his farm for us to have. It’s hard to compete with that! You’re the second person to mention salsa. I’ll have to look for that now because I haven’t been able to find one I really like from the grocery store. Take care, and thanks for stopping by today to chat.

  6. I LOVE Farmers Markets . We have a couple nice ones in different towns close by so I drive over on Saturday morning to get the fresh large garden Tomatoes. I hate store bought tomatoes, nothing taste as good as a tomato sandwich fresh from the garden. Also I get to pick from huge selection of homemade jams, salsas and fresh baked bread .. yummy now my mouth is watering just thinking about what’s coming soon !!!!

    • Rose Ann, your comment made me hungry too! You’re right about tomatoes. Nothing compares with fresh straight from the farmer ones. I love a tomato filled with tuna salad on a hot summer day. It’s so refreshing! I’ve never had a tomato sandwhich, though. OOoh, but you’ve got me thinking of a caprese salad…a fresh tomato sliced with fresh mozzarella on top, with finely sliced basil and balsamic vinegar. That sounds so good right now. Thank you for reminding me of all the things I can’t wait to do with tomatoes this summer. Take care and stay safe.

    • Teresa, I’ve seen soap, but I don’t think I’ve seen lotion. I’m a lotion nut. My favorite right now is the one in the picture from Canticle Farm, the coconut and shea body butter. I have terrible dry skin. I’ve had to stock up because they don’t sell it during the warm weather. The heat makes it impossible for them to keep the texture right. (It’s kind of whipped.) I prefer buying more local products for body washes and lotions. The scents are better and the ingredients higher quality. Not only that, but the price is usually better, too. I’ll be on the lookout for goat’s milk lotion. Thanks for stopping by today.

    • My grandmother always grew cucumbers and then made pickles. It’s odd. I’m not a big cucumber fan, but I love pickles. Thanks for stopping by to chat today. Take care and stay safe.

  7. I love getting natural soaps for my children with allergies. One summer, I went as a vendor to sell books (I’m also an author) and hand painted horse figurines.

    • Jess, then you know exactly what I’m talking about and have seen first hand how farmers markets have expanded their scope. The handmade soaps are a great for people with allergies. You can ask the person who made the item exactly what’s in their product and you can usually pronounce (and understand) what they are. I love rosemary mint for a scent but I have a terrible time finding it. These local vendors are willing to make that specific scent for me. For folks like you with allergy issues, you can ask them to leave out certain ingredients. My kids weren’t allergic, but there was a person when they were younger who made strawberry lemonade soap. My oldest son Alex loved that. My son Zachary was more like me with the rosemary.

      I’d love to know the titles of the books you’ve written. Writing children’s books is so difficult. People have no idea, and the circular stories such as If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, are even harder. You must be truly talents.

  8. I enjoy farmers markets. Locating ripe and tasty tomatoes is special as well as eggplant and cucumbers.

    • You sound like me, Anne. I love just wandering around a famers market on a gorgeous spring day. It’s fun to see everything available, and I always go home with something great for dinner. Thank you for stopping by the corral today. Take care.

  9. I love fresh veggies during the Spring and Summer so I go weekly to the farmers market to buy mainly tomatoes, kale and cucumbers.

    • Alicia, I always come home with a ton of fruit when I go to a farmers market. It seems when I buy fruit at the grocery store it takes forever to ripen enough to eat. That drives me crazy. Items from the farmers market are ready to eat when I come home. Thanks for stopping by the corral today. Take care.

  10. I grow squash and pumpkins every year but I refuse to grow zucchini. So, I buy zucchini at the farmer’s market a couple of times in the summer. I like the small ones that can be sliced and fried in butter and olive oil or used in stir fry. Our market often has musical entertainment along with a wide variety of vendors. It is held in the city park providing a beautiful shady place for the vendors to set up their stalls.

    • Alice, is there a story behind why you refuse to grow zucchini? My hubby likes to sauté yellow squash, zucchini, red onions, peppers, and carrots the way you do. How lucky you are to have musical entertainment at your market! What a great way to spend a pretty spring day! Enjoy the music for me the next time you go!

      • Zucchini is such a prolific plant even one bush would produce more than I could use. Much better to let someone else try to figure out what to do with all those big and little squash.?. I grow squash that keeps well into the winter months once it is harvested then I don’t have to use it up or freeze it right away. I do have to have space to store it.

  11. Hello Julie I always have to have me some of the Farmer’s Market fresh green beans and their new potatoes and also some of their fresh ripe tomatoes so yummy! before ours are ready to pick Thank you for the amazing giveaway and Blessings to you.

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