by Chrysa Smith

It has finally stopped raining. And while my first attempt at alfresco dining was a bit chilly, I did stop in at the nursery to pick up my warm weather veggies and herbs. The mini-poos now share their ‘quality’ time with these temporary green tenants, as I nuture them in their little pots until they are strong enough to stand on their own. (Can you tell I’m an empty-nester?)

When you taste really fresh food, you fall in love. I’ve been in love for years–maybe since I was a child. I can remember the tastes and scents of my grandmothers fresh rotisserie chicken from the butcher shop; mashed, new potatoes whipped with full-fat butter. (No margarines, substitutes or synthetics for this girl) So, this spring I toyed with the idea of taking a half share at a local food coop, since the constant supply of organic produce sounds wonderful. The only problem is, with two meat-eating canines (OK, well they do like their asparagus, carrots and the occasional lettuce leaf) and two middle aged adults who are not on a regular home dining schedule, it didn’t make good economic sense.

So, I’m gearing up to visit my favorite farm stands, where I can always find an ample supply of freshly picked tomatoes, corn, beans, cantaloupes, strawberries, zucchini and other veggies to complement the home garden. Here are some of my favorites:

In Warrington–Bear with me, since many farm markets don’t have memorable signs like the Vegas strip. But, on Street Road where it meets Folly (near Illg’s German Butcher Shop; home of award-winning Kielbasa) is a shrinking farm. And on that farm, lives a little farmer with a rosy, round face, who works like you’d expect a farmer to work–damn hard. They have a short growing season—opening end of June through Halloween, but us Smith’s believe that they have the freshest, best-tasting corn and tomatoes around. In July, he and his farmhands keep replenishing the corn supply with just-picked white and bi-color ears—-uummm! So good with a little salt and butter or EVOO–extra virgin olive oil.
In Doylestownsimply known as The Market, this upscale barn on Lower State Road, on the grounds of DelVal College, is now run by Shady Brook Farm It’s open year-round, but it takes on a special overflowing feel right about now. It’s gotten so well stocked, that I often stop in on my route home from Dtown. Fresh milk in glass bottles, freshly made salads(love the lentil salad), cheeses, pastas, home-made bread, bakery items and ice cream. It’s a little of everything and more—nursery stock, tables out back to sit and enjoy a bite and that cute old-town feeling of being on grandma’s farm. (Well not my grandma; she lived in Brooklyn. But someone’s country grandma).
In Wrightstown: Wrightstown Farmer’s Market On Saturday mornings each summer, I gather the mini-poos and head over to Rt. 232 in Wrightstown (near the township building and across from the quarry). It’s a place for foodies, ex-hippies and the agriculturally astute. You can find a nice sampling of local bread and chip artisans, fresh flower growers, acoustic folk groups and paizanos from South Philly selling bread and gravy–aka, pasta sauce. They are home base to the local slow food movement, and provide a better morning out and probably more organics than most farmer markets. Opening this weekend with a May Day festival of spring veggies, the fun continues weekly with strawberry, tomato and peach celebrations, a garlic cook-off and chef demos from some of the area’s favorite restaurants and cookshops–including Earl’s Peddler’s Village and Carlow Cookery in Doylestown.
There are so many markets popping up, one of my summer goals (besides planting myself on the sand as often as possible) is to check out a different farmer’s market each week. So, keep eating green, and keep reading. I’ll be back by summer to report on more great finds.

Where do you go to catch the seasonal bounty? Once/week farmer’s markets are becoming quite popular all over PA—-weekly ones in Doylestown, Ottsville, New Hope, Plumstead and Wrightstown. Got a favorite? Please tell us where and why.
Next Dish: Dinner Clubs