when we first moved to nashville 17 years ago, we went to the farmers market. it was a far cry from the ones we had been visiting in san francisco bay area. there was a definite lack of exotic produce such as the plethora of asian herbs and produce we were accustomed to. never mind finding anything organic either; it just wasn’t there.
what we were thrilled with was how a small farmer could pull his truck into a stall and sell what he had picked that morning. maybe it was silver queen corn or watermelons or turnip greens or some other seasonal vegetable. it really didn’t matter to us as it was affordable and it was fresh. then, sadly, local politics and various nonsense got in the way and the farmers market became something of a joke. too many of the vendors there were simply reselling produce they had purchased from wholesale produce houses. it bordered on ridiculous; bananas, oranges and pineapples? honestly, were we supposed to believe they were locally grown and fresh?
with a resurgence in all things local and some management changes for the better, the nashville farmer’s market now looks much more like a real farmers market. sure, some of the vendors still resell (wholesale purchased) produce. but many more are squeezing in with fresh, locally grown produce. on a recent trip downtown, i lugged the camera bag with me and set out to see what i could find.
seventeen years later and fresh picked corn in the bed of a pickup truck is still a magnet for both myself and my husband. this was labelled silver king, a white corn.
when it comes to hot peppers, i am a bit of a wuss. however, that does not stop me from growing my own or making my own hot sauce.
smileys farm in ridgetop is always one of my stops. they always have plenty to look at. known for their turnip greens, you can always count on their produce to be locally produced. looking at the crookneck squash they had on display had me wondering…
a sure sign that fall is approaching; hard squash of all kinds. we had several dumpling squash vines in our garden and we only picked 3 before the vines gave up.
before moving to tennesee, i had never heard of scuppernongs or muscadine grapes. they are native to the area and make great jelly and wine. the skins are not edible and they have a lot of seeds making it necessary to cook them, strain them to remove the skins and seeds and then cook them again to make jelly or pie with the pulp and juice.
lined up on the shelves like soldiers, i found myself mesmerized by the pattern the perfectly straight rows of jars made. the selection of jams, jellies, preserves and butters was never ending. it would have been very easy to pick up 3 or 4 or 12 different ones.
and as always, there is always that one guy who has to make a spectacle of himself. amidst all of the jars of relish, preserves and what not stood two jars of neon pink pickled eggs. why pink?
keep it local, visit a farmers market near you and keep a farmer in business.