We went to the first farmers’ market of the year at “Ag Heritage Park” today in the drizzle. I and everyone else there seemed to be wondering the same thing: why aren’t there more farmers around here? The line for the most varied vegetable selection was almost thirty minutes long. The berry farm stand ran out of strawberries at ten past the opening hour. Peaches were gone by the time Jack and I made it out of the veggie line. Hundreds of people arrived in the first hour and stood around in the rain, beaming at each other as they hefted canvas bags full of local lettuce, peaches, cucumbers, honey, cheese, and eggs—if they were lucky enough to get some before it all sold out. There’s so much pent up demand for fresh local food, and too few CSAs and small farmers to meet it with their supply. This may be because the market is young in relation to the agricultural history of the state, in which commodity crops like cotton and lumber dominated.
The exciting thing, though, is that small farms are popping up or remaking themselves to meet this demand. And if you ask around enough you find out about other producers who have been in the area, quietly serving up their grass fed beef or organic greens for decades. (For example, the Ritches of Goose Pond Farm, one of whose scrumptious chickens we enjoyed with friends the other night.)
Jack and I took home a small haul: red leaf and butter lettuces, an armful of baby summer squashes, veggie goat cheese from Bulger Creek Farm in Notasulga, and some honey.
Eggs were available, but we already had a dozen of the local “Frank’s Famous Eggs” in the fridge. (Their yolks are molten orange! And if you happen to eat a supermarket egg when you’re used to the density and flavor of these, you’ll say: what’s this tasteless rubber?)
The lettuces made a crisp bed for some eight-minute eggs.
I roasted the summer squash in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a sprig of backyard rosemary. Jack insisted he didn’t like “fwash” but he ate every sweet and salty morsel.