What's Your Favorite Farm Market?
That’s what the American Farmland Trust wants to know. Beginning June 1, members of the farm-marketing public are invited to cast their votes in the “America’s Favorite Farmers Markets” contest, a first for the organization.
The online ballot, available here, will be searchable by zip code, but will only include markets that officially register with AFT. Translation: If you want your local farm market on the ballot, you’ll need to bug the market manager to sign up.
And if all farm markets sign up, the ballot will be enormous. As of last year, there are 4,685 markets nationwide, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), an increase of 6.8 percent since 2006. With so many markets to choose from, how can a farm market lover pick just one?
It’s because of Courthouse and Columbia Pike markets in Arlington that I developed a love for purple hull peas, okra, watermelon and sweet potatoes ( often, with their greens attached); shucks, at Columbia Pike market, I got schooled in apples working with a fruit grower.
As if there’s nothing else to do in New Orleans, the markets are chockfull of Gulf shrimp and gorgeous Creole tomatoes, and blueberries from across the Mississippi state line. And how can I forget the huckleberries of Montana or the smoked fish, cheese curds and gooseberries of Wisconsin. In southern California, this Yank never tires of the local almonds, walnuts and dried fruit, the endless varieties of oranges, and yes indeed, pomegranates.
Here in Washington state, where the growing season is long and varied, the bounty is rich, a long list of goodies that includes fiddlehead ferns, nettles, asparagus, unsurpassed berries, renowned peaches, dried beans, beets like you’ve never seen, apples of your eye, local cranberries -- and that doesn’t even include the fruits of the sea.
But a favorite? Impossible to choose. Can you?
Before you cast those ballots, I’d like to take your pulse: Which markets top your personal list -- and why? Are you a die-hard weekly shopper at the market down the road or is your favorite a long-distance boyfriend that you get to visit just a few times a year? What makes your faves so irresistible? Share with the class, please!
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