I don’t want it to be a secret any longer. It’s October, but farmers market season is not over. In fact, the best local produce can often be found in the fall. Every year for some unknown reason attendance drops off at local markets after Labor Day. Farmers scratch their heads as they load up their goods at the end of the day and take them to the local food pantry. They attend season extension technique seminars but wonder why… if no one is going to buy.
You and I can change that together. This Saturday, visit your local farmers market for an impressive tour of autumn offerings. If you come to the Atherton Market we’ll spend time with you and give you a set of ideas that will get meals on the table in no time. Many of them involve a slow cooker, but they’re not your mother’s can-of-this and box-of-that concoctions.
When you visit us you can also enjoy events ranging from a CD release party for Matthew Alexander on October 29th, to pre-holiday cooking demos and a special seasonal market on Friday, December 2nd. There is always an activity for the kids, and Christmas trees will come down from the mountain the day after Thanksgiving. Right now we have at least 10 different pumpkin varieties, including the peanut pumpkin pictured above.
Incidentally, pumpkins are in the winter squash family, and have some versatile relatives. Butternut makes a great addition to chili, and spaghetti squash when cooked al dente is famous for its pasta imitation. Because these are “keeper” crops, they will be around for months to come, even after the harvest is done.
Like most markets, our vendor population will evolve a bit over the next weeks to include more prepared foods, a rotating selection of artisans, and some specialty produce items, like mushrooms and hydroponic vegetables. There is a bit of an ebb in produce availability during the darkest, coldest months of winter, but rarely is there nothing to be had.
Speaking of supply, our farmer’s chickens launched a protest during the hottest months of late summer, and practically quit producing, but we’re seeing more eggs again, and with the use of lighting in the chicken coops, egg production is now extended well into the winter months. Those practices require balance and consideration – would you want a light on in your bedroom all night? At some point such practices become counterproductive.
In addition to “food,” you can always get wine and coffee at the Atherton Market, and we’re hearing that other markets are adding similar offerings. Soon we’ll have Urbana teas too. The Savory Spice Shop is getting ready to open up around the corner, which caused us to breathe a sign of relief because foodies love their spices, and we weren’t finding an adequate local source.
If you don’t live near the Atherton Market, seek out the local market closest to you. They may still be open and you just didn’t know. Many markets – even the outdoor ones – are extending their seasons year round, though they sometimes compress their hours to wait for the sun to thaw out frosty early mornings.
We’re seeing more and more people experience their local food “aha” moment, and it is often when they are sharing the experience with someone new to shopping at the modern day farmers market. Do yourself a favor and bring a friend along for the adventure. We’ll all be glad you did.