There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
~George Bernard Shaw
One of the highlights of my week is shopping at the farmers market at the Newark Co-op off Main Street. It’s like visiting with friends, plus I come home with all manner of yummy goodies and the satisfaction of supporting local farms and businesses. The kids go with me, pick out what they want, pick out what new things they’re willing to try, proudly unpack and show their dad the weekly haul, help create that night’s meal with as many of these fresh ingredients as possible. It’s a nice way to end the weekend.
When I first started going to the farmers market– I guess it’s two years ago now, how time flies– there were just a handful of tables. Things have really picked up and expanded and now I spend my Sunday afternoons, not just with my kids, but with a growing and vibrant community.
Our first stop these days is at the Wood Fired Pizza table, to put in our order for lunch. Yesterday I opted for spinach and feta, Jeff went for everything BUT spinach and feta (green pepper, onion, sausage, pepperoni). YUM. The pizzas are made to order and then baked in a beehive oven on the back of a Ford F250. Local peeps, you’ll want to “like” Wood Fired Pizza on Facebook for updates on where to find them and what toppings will be available.
Papa’s is a pastry shop that is located four blocks away from where we used to live in the city, and I can’t believe we didn’t take better advantage of the good things to eat. In addition to addictive spring rolls, Papa’s provides baked goods (often sugar or gluten free), breads and strombolis, cakes, and an assortment of lunch-y items, from soup to lasagnas (eggplant or meat) to dumplings to tempeh to gelato. A lot of these options are vegan or gluten free.
The first thing I ever bought from Papa’s was a Quiche Lorraine, so this nice man is forever nicknamed “quiche guy” within our family.
Then it’s time for some local Eve’s Cheese, fruit and jams from Lockbriar Farms, veggies from Maple Hill Farm (they are located right near us and use draft horses rather than tractors, and their veggies are oh-my-god so cheap), salad greens from Calvert Farm and fresh eggs from Whimsical Farms. Over to Farm Stuff for herbs as needed, and homemade potato chips when they have them (they sell out fast and sometimes it takes me a while to get moving on a Sunday morn).
I like to buy from as many vendors as possible just ’cause I’m like that, but definitely each table has its strong points. I can’t claim favorites as to the people, though- they are all just as friendly as can be.
There are also artists, crafters, vendors selling plants and wool yarns, Big Sky Bread, and occasionally tables selling organic dog biscuits or worm tea. And oftentimes musicians. And on special days, like yesterday’s Summer Festival, you get local restaurants (Home Grown Cafe), a Slow Food table (more about them tomorrow), sunflower planting, something called Dinner Thyme Personal Chef Service that looks interesting (and had crazy tasty kohlrabi salad to sample), and lambs and face painting for the kids.
OK, now, I have to stop and talk about the face painter, Mr. Brady.
I go to a lot of kids events and I’ve seen a wide range of talent in the face painting category.
This guy was a freaking artist and really nice. He’d been painting all day and was obviously hot (people, it was HOT on that asphalt, I was dying), but he somehow had Cass comfortably chatting up a storm while he decorated her arm. The detail was incredible and he finished it off with just the right amount of glitter to make her dance with delight (given that she chose to wear her black motorcycle boots, she cut a comical figure).
My boys were bummed I wouldn’t let them get painted too (there were other, younger, kids in line and did I mention it was HOT?). I was bummed that he’s not local, just visiting, so I couldn’t talk to him about maybe designing my next tattoo. Especially when he asked me to read the back of his business card–
“We’ve entered as strangers, and soon we have friends.”
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. I wasn’t confident enough to guess this on the spot like that, but I looked it up when I got home and confirmed it- that’s a quote from Harvey, one of my favorite movies as a kid (anything starring Jimmy Stewart, Katherine or Audrey Hepburn, WC Fields or the Marx Brothers safely falls into the category of “one of my favorite movies as a kid”). It goes like this:
Harvey and I sit in the bars… have a drink or two… play the juke box. And soon the faces of all the other people they turn toward mine and they smile. And they’re saying, “We don’t know your name, mister, but you’re a very nice fella.” Harvey and I warm ourselves in all these golden moments. We’ve entered as strangers – soon we have friends. And they come over… and they sit with us… and they drink with us… and they talk to us. They tell about the big terrible things they’ve done and the big wonderful things they’ll do. Their hopes, and their regrets, and their loves, and their hates. All very large, because nobody ever brings anything small into a bar.
Farmers markets are like that too. On the surface, we’re just getting our food for the week. But we warm ourselves in something bigger than that. Our ideals, and our health, and our community. Our kids. It’s a hell of a lot to put on a business card.
If you’re lucky enough to live in West Virginia, I highly recommend you consider Mr. Brady for your next birthday party, or event, or whimsically punk rock tattoo design 🙂
Is that beautiful or WHAT? Cass cried when she had to wash it off. I had to take lots of pictures first so she could show her friends.
Anyway, that’s how I spend my Sunday afternoons- focused on food and family. Usually a little less drama and introspection based on body paint.
Do you frequent a farmers market? Do you find they’ve profoundly affected the rhythm and focus of your weekends? I’m hoping that the vendors will speak with me a bit so I can give you a profile on each of them, look for that in the weeks ahead.