Has this happened to you? Since we were hit with this pandemic, have you found yourself shopping more locally? I know I have. I have been visiting farmers’ markets more than I ever have before too. The variety and taste of local products, the sense of community that comes from supporting neighboring farms, and studies of the high nutrition value in fresh produce all make me come back for more.
Living in this part of the country – on the southern shores of Lake Erie in northern Ohio -- we are blessed with good soil (thank you, glaciers!) and favorable weather conditions (most years). When I was a kid, I remember picking strawberries with my mother and aunts. My mother stopped taking me when I had more strawberry remnants on my white shirt than I had placed into the basket. The first house Heather and I lived in was – literally – surrounded by sweet corn fields farmed by Bergman’s Orchards. We would put a pot of water on the stove, turn it on, walk to the field, pick corn, shuck it, and be ready to put it in the water before it even came to a boil (all with permission, of course)!
When we moved to Huron we were introduced to “Hahn’s corn”, produced by a local farmer who set up operations. Nearly every morning during harvest, a steady stream of cars would be circling between his house and barn to pick up corn and other fresh vegetables he might have available. Unfortunately for us and the community, Mr. Hahn retired. Since the last corn left his fields, no less than a half dozen “Sweet Corn here” locations now advertise and try to fill that void. Two years later, Facebook requests still ask, “Now that Hahn’s is gone, who else has the best corn?”
Farmers’ markets have also seemed to broaden their offerings as demand for other locally made products has increased. I always expected fruits, vegetables, honey and preserves. But I’ve never noticed baked goods at these markets before. Ok, I’ve seen the occasional pie, but strudel? Who sells strudel at a farmers’ market?? (By the way: it was delicious.) These markets and their internet connections have allowed local cottage industries to really thrive.
Another local farmer, Farmer Lee Jones, has recently opened his own public market near our home. Talk about being fortunate! The Hahn farm sits a mile to the north of my house, the Jones farm a mile to the south. The Jones family has catered mostly to well-known chefs and restaurants across the country, but when the pandemic hit and restaurants were closing, this local farm sought a more local means of support. The business opened up a small, roadside stand and began selling produce locally to anyone who would drive over. The farm since expanded operations and converted one of its barns into a showcase of nutritious produce. The Jones farm, known as Chef’s Garden, has gotten national attention about its unique story. Don’t believe me? Check out this video from NBC’s The Today Show: https://www.today.com/video/
I strongly suggest you venture out to see what your local farmers’ markets have to offer! While writing this, I took a break so Rachel and I could run down the road to Farmer Jones’ Market. Chef Jamie was there with “free” samples of a dish he made. Rachel was hooked. She is now making “Hot Honey Glazed Crispy Eggplant, Tomato and Sweet Pepper Ragout” for dinner tonight. For me? I kept looking for the strudel – no luck.
Please remember that we are “here” and available for you as well. If you have any questions or concerns, financial or otherwise, please do not hesitate to call or email. If you have friends, family, or neighbors you feel would benefit from a conversation with me, I’m more than happy to have a call or jump on a Zoom meeting with them.
As always, I hope that you are doing well, and staying safe & healthy!