Since my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) deliveries started a few weeks ago, I have been trying very hard to avoid temptation (or to spend any more money than I already do on food) by putting off my farmers’ markets visits. So far, so good. And I’ve been using up my weekly stock of produce without too much waste. However, last week was opening day for the Oakmont Farmers Market in Havertown, so I made the effort to get over there for a snapshot of what will be on the menu in the coming weeks.Â
I was elated to see my friend, Sue Miller, peddling her fabulous Birchrun Hill Farm cheeses (the Birchrunville Blue is her signature creation). Miller is one of the markets’ new vendors this season, along with Shellbark Hollow, which makes absolutely divine goat cheese. Both are in high demand by area restaurateurs—and worth every single, creamy calorie. Birchrun Hill also sells humanely raised veal, but I have not yet confirmed its availability at the market.
Another new vendor is Lime Valley Mill Farm, growers of all kinds of herbicide- and pesticide-free veggies and herbs. There were also gorgeous, fresh-cut flowers from Schaeffer’s Flowers, along with grass-fed cheese and beef from Hillacres Pride and lean bison from Backyard Bison. I arrived a little late in the afternoon, so the inventory was a little low—exactly what the farmers are hoping for—which was actually a good thing since my CSA deliveries come on Thursdays, and my visit was on a Wednesday. Things should be in full swing this weekend, now that the holiday is behind us.
I also drove past the brand-new Bryn Mawr farmers’ market on Saturday, set up in the parking lot right next to Bryn Mawr Trust (aka Municipal Lot 7) at the intersection of Lancaster and Bryn Mawr avenues. This is another producers-only market, and hours are Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., thru Nov. 1. I was going to take photos, but when I drove by (a little less than an hour before closing), there wasn’t much to take in. I’ll be going this Saturday, though, so expect a full report.
Also on my list of must-visits is Headhouse Market, a true foodie haven located in Headhouse Square and run by The Food Trust. There are typically 30-plus vendors (including Talula’s Table) that hail from all over and pack the place with a fairly diverse mix of local fruits, vegetables, flowers, meats and cheeses. Their big news this season is expanded hours on Saturday. And I was happy to discover that eco-conscious John and Kira’s Chocolates will be there. Who needs produce when there’s chocolate?
The Food Trust also hosts a market in Conshohocken, located at the Historic Washington Firehouse (Fayette and West Hector streets), that will open in June. Hours are every Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. I haven’t been yet, but as I can get to Conshy a lot quicker than I can downtown or Phoenixville, it is surely going to become a regular weekend stop.
Other popular producer-only markets are in Phoenixville, Kennett Square and Swarthmore. The Phoenixville market (Bridge Street and Taylor Alley) is open Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., from May to November. It draws some of the most respected growers in the region. Since its inception, it has become renowned as a regular community event featuring music, art and kids’ activities. The Swarthmore Farmers’ Market (run by the city’s food co-op) has also been up and running, so if you feel like taking a drive, it’ll be waiting for you this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They work with the Common Market of Philadelphia to bring in a wide range of items, which currently includes local asparagus, apples, butterhead lettuce, spinach, kale, organic specialty mushrooms and local honey. They’re also a great resource for flowers, and the co-op does catering. I just checked out the menu, and the grilled flank steak with caramelized onions and grilled vegetables has me salivating. It’s no wonder I GAIN weight in the summer, not the other way around!
You can make a whole day out of wining, dining and shopping in Kennett Square, with all the nearby wineries, Mexican groceries and restaurants, and the farmers’ market. The latter is open on Fridays, 2-6 p.m.—so pack a cooler, shop till you drop, and then re-energize with authentic, homegrown, Mexican fare and a bottle of locally produced wine. There are also lots of plants and cut flowers at this market, so if you are planning a party, you can have a little fun while pulling all the elements together.
And of course, if your weekends are too jammed to reach any of these destinations, there’s always Pete’s Produce in Westtown, a favorite summertime spot for kids and adults to find something good to sink their teeth into. Me? I’m partial to the pies.
For a full rundown of where to buy local, look for the 2009 Philadelphia Local Food Guide, available at localfoodphilly.org, just one of the many superb online resources supporting the local food movement.
Anyone who wants to take the One Local Summer challenge (I’m doing it) can sign up for it at farmtophilly.com. The challenge runs June 1-Aug. 30. The rules are simple: cook up one meal each week during the challenge using locally grown ingredients (exceptions: oil, salt and pepper, and spices)—a pretty easy task with all the great resources we have around us. If you’re up for it, get in gear, because May 30 is the last day to register.
Here’s what I have to look forward to this Thursday (all certified organic):
â€¢ 1 head broccoli from Farmdale Organics
â€¢ 1 bunch baby beets from Pleasant Valley Farm
â€¢ 1 bunch white scallions from Country Boy Farm
â€¢ 1 bunch green kale from Hillside Organics
â€¢ 1 bunch tatsoi from Hillside Organics
â€¢ 1 bag wildfire lettuce mix from Farmdale OrganicsÂ
â€¢ 1 bag young rainbow chard from Elm Tree OrganicsÂ
â€¢ 1 head red leaf lettuce from Farmdale Organics
â€¢ 1 box Chandler strawberries from Green Valley OrganicsÂ
And here’s what you have to look forward to this coming month: zucchini, turnips, cucumbers, asparagus, beans, beets, blueberries, strawberries, cabbage, peas, scallions and lots of lettuce …