Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I love farmer's markets!

Every Saturday, I have my ritual...I head to West Chester and go to the Growers Market (http://www.westchestergrowersmarket.com/)  on Church & Chestnut Streets, open from 9 to 1pm during the season and lately, I've now extended my routine to include the Artisan's Exchange that is on Carter Drive off of Matlack Street.
 At the Grower's Market, I buy my week's vegetables, pick up my fruit share at North Star Orchards, (they have the BEST Asian pears and heirloom apples),
grab some fabulous bread from Big Sky, maybe pick up some flowers and eggs and chat with people I have come to know either through the market or from the town, often running into teachers who taught my sons in elementary school. It's a wonderful place, full of great offerings of not only fruits and vegetables, but also meats, soaps, cheeses and more. Besides all those material items that it provides, it also gives me a sense of community; seeing people I recognize and now know through this shared experience. In this world of online communication and remote, at home offices there is something very satisfying in going and buying food from people I know, talking about the best way to cook a certain item, and catching up on town gossip. It is one of the highlights of my week.

Whereas the Growers Market's focus is on fresh produce, the newer Artisan's Exchange, open Saturday from 10 to 2pm, (http://artisanexchangewcpa.com/) has more prepared foods. This market was created by Golden Valley Farm Coffee Roasters. In an ingenious use of extra space, they took extra warehouse facilities they had and not only created a space for the vendors to sell their products but they also lease out space for these vendors in a industrial kitchen created just for this purpose. It gives small producers a way to give their small business dream a try at a much lower entry point by sharing this facility. Not all the vendors use the kitchen but many do and rave about the set up.

My favorite vendor here is A Taste of Pueblo, a Mexican food vendor. They have the best salsas (the tomatillo salsa fresca is my absolute favorite) and freshly made chips that I've had. Often they also will be serving lunch food outside the market as well. I haven't tried it but have heard rave reviews. Other excellent items are the Irish pound cake, the caramel corn, the homemade takeaway pizza, my favorite sausage producer, Maiale, and the spreads and honey from Taste.

We are fortunately that there are quite a few farmers markets in the Philly area to choose from. I also sometime hit the East Goshen one on Thursday afternoon (3-7pm, in East Goshen Park). There is some overlap of vendors from both the West Chester Grower's Market and the Artisan's Exchange but some unique ones as well. There is a hydroponic vendor there that sells the best lettuce I've ever tasted and it can last up to 3 weeks in the frig!

So for me, these market not only nourish me through the excellent food they provide but also provide emotional nourishment, through the communities they create!

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