Visiting a farmers' market is a great way to enjoy the flavor of locally grown produce and fruit, which is unmatched when picked at its peak of freshness.
Granted you can also buy locally grown products via a farm market, a roadside stand, or through some area supermarkets. But any farmers' market offers an interesting assortment of vendors who can tell you how to use their products.
On a recent Thursday evening at the Perrysburg Farmers' Market on the city's main drag of Louisiana Avenue, Carolyn Ackerman sold freshly picked red raspberries from the Ackerman Berry Farm in Oregon; Marlene Danko of Curtice featured homemade Hungarian pastries and cookies; Diane Rogers, of Syd & Diane's fame, sold dressings and dips, and Randa Shallal was telling passers-by about her Sweet Louise ice cream topping.
Nearby was Lynn Seigfreid of Garden Gate Produce in Waterville with organic eggs and produce and baskets. Bench Farms of Curtice, Keil Farm of Toledo, and the Luckenbill Farm of Pandora are regulars at the Perrysburg Farmers' Market as well. There are 25 seasonal contract vendors and nine daily contract vendors.
Among the daily vendors is Lau Naturale. It's a young business featuring "natural beauty products from the herbs grown in my garden," says registered dietitian Laura LaChina.
"My Toledo backyard is completely tilled to grow lavender, thyme, basil, chamomile, eucalyptus, and all natural plants," says the part-time dietitian, who does private consulting and corporate wellness programs.
On Saturday mornings you'll find her at the Toledo Farmers' Market promoting nutrition consulting and selling handmade soaps, lotions, and fresh-cut flowers.
Rhodes Garden Fresh, with a store at 4171 Monroe St., sells perennials, annuals, and ornamentals at the Toledo Farmers' Market. "Business has been less than stellar," says owner Jeff Rhodes. "There's some confusion about the market being open."
Even though the Erie Street Market is closed, the Toledo Farmers' Market is going strong. "But the publicity about Erie Street Market has affected the Toledo Farmers' Market crowds," he says. "There's an awful lot of merchandise available. Sweet corn is in, local plums, early apples, and squash, cukes, tomatoes are starting anytime."
Not only is it a great time to fill your refrigerator with fresh produce, it's also a good time to buy plants. "We take some of our interesting varieties of plants such as angels trumpet native to Central and South America, banana trees, and jasmines down there," he says of the market stall.
Dan Madigan, executive director of the Toledo Farmers' Market, said that when the Erie Street Market closed, it took away some of the public seating where people could "relax and have breakfast."
In July, "we implemented our little cafe with jazz music," he said. Consumers can buy a hot dog from Nick's World Famous Hot Dogs, or baked goods from Country Grains Bakery, coffee and chocolates from Flying Rhino, or popcorn from Karen's Kettle Korn, and sit down and eat it.
Also new to the Toledo Farmers' Market is the Wines Bee Yard stall run by Debbie Wines of Palmyra, Mich., near Blissfield, selling honey from 30 beehives. She also has flavored honeys such as Hot Honey made with Thai and chili pepper oil. Customers like it for barbecue sauce, flavored cole slaw, and as a salmon glaze.
Among the more than 40 vendors you'll find Campbell Poultry with dressed chickens, turkeys, and eggs; Ed & Lynn Weiland with asparagus, rhubarb, winter squash, beans, and cabbage; Russ Miller with freezer pork cuts, hams, ribs, and bacon and handmade crafts. Fruit from Witt's Orchards includes peaches, pears, plums, and later apples.
Several vendors come on Wednesdays including Konstantinos with tomatoes, zucchini, and seasonal fruits, Max and Betty Jeffers with produce, plants, and yard art, and Goodfellows Farm with hot peppers, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and melons.
Two summer events are planned at the Toledo Farmers' Market.
Tomato Fest will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. "It is a celebration of all things tomato," says Mr. Madigan. There is a contest for the largest tomato by weight; the winner receives a market basket. Vendors will pass out favorite tomato recipes.
The Harvest Festival will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 26, celebrating corn and early fall crops. There will be recipes and live entertainment.
The Toledo Farmers' Market is open through October. "Plans are to enclose one portion of the market so it can stay open through the year," says Mr. Madigan. "Our apple vendors would like to come down through January. It will allow us to extend the season."
Eating foods grown in the local community is even more important than eating organic, according to Bon Appetit Management Co., which has 400 cafes across the country, including cafes at Case Western Reserve University, Oberlin College, and Otterbein College.
Consumers need to learn how far food travels to reach the average American plate, understand the consequences of food choices for the local economy, and be inspired to support small-scale local farmers.
We are in an area where we can easily buy produce from the farmers' markets to try summer recipes. (See list of farmers' markets on this page.)
Melt away the heat of barbecued foods with the cool zing of Grape Raita with Toasted Pitas using fresh cucumbers from a farmers' market.
Grill, roast, or boil sweet corn. Make Sweet Corn Salsa with a sweet, hot, and sour combination that pairs nicely with grilled foods.
Watch for the tomato crop to prepare Tomato and Avocado Salad with Lime-Herb Dressing. Use locally grown cucumber, sweet pepper for the salad, and homemade herbs of mint, marjoram, and cilantro for the dressing.
It's a great flavor and a beautiful salad.
Contact Kathie Smith at: email@example.com