Saturday morning, market day, is a jumble of visiting with friends, purchasing food for the week, jostling with tourists, and talking to farmers. There are some weekends when the amount of energy needed for the market -- including lugging my goods home on the bus -- takes its toll. While on wintry days the market almost feels like a whisper, on summer days the market shouts at the top of its lungs for hours on end. Summer food is amplified, summer crowds are amplified, and even the number of farm booths is amplified.
Most of the local, hard-core market goers that I know won't be seen at the market after 9am on a summer Saturday morning. I tend to gamble with that rule some weeks. Sometimes it's more important to sleep in than to be the first at the market, and sometimes I have market obligations that require me to be there later. And then, all you can do is just go with the flow and be as patient as possible.
This weekend, I was at the market late. I had interviewed Ed George of the Peach Farm for CUESA's Meet the Producer series at 10.30, and wasn't at the market early enough to shop before the interview. That meant that I was still shopping close to noon. Interviewing Ed was fun -- he's a really dedicated farmer who provides produce to some of the city's best restaurants. His major crop is heirloom tomatoes, and they were beautiful on Sunday. I picked up some very small eggplants from him that I still haven't decided how to prepare.
Even at the height of the market, farmers are usually in a good mood and talkative. I purchased fresh garbanzo beans, off the stalk, from one of the Catalan daughters at Catalan Farm. I asked her if she was the one who had to de-stalk them. It's a tedious process without much yield to show for your trouble. "No, and it's a good thing," she said. "I would just throw them at my brother. We get in fights with them."
If you blink, you'll miss Short Night Farm. They are a small booth in the front of the market, and they usually only have a small amount of produce on their table. Short Night has never disappointed me and I look forward to their produce every week, so I stopped to see what they had: beautiful melons that I didn't want to carry around the market. Deciding to take the gamble that there would be some left at the end of my trip, I passed them up. "But I'll take these," I told the vendor, grabbing some lemons. She laughed that the lemons were important enough to carry but the melon wasn't. It was no joke to me -- finding locally grown citrus in July is difficult, and they were the only vendor at the market selling lemons that day.