As the Farm Market season winds down, you sometimes need to venture further away to farm markets that are still going strong. Last week we went to North Market for the weeks groceries, but we wanted to go somewhere else this week so we headed to Clintonville because we’ve heard nice things about their market. Clintonville is out of our way since it is on the north side of Columbus and we live in a different county south and west of there. I have to say – the raves were on target.
Clintonville really does buy into the local producer idea. Not only were all of their farmers local, but the seller has to be the farmer, or from the farm. No brokers or auction buys, which I really like; we had to be really careful because we did buy from some brokers earlier in the summer who we thought were farmers, but they not only weren’t farmers, they bought at an auction and didn’t know the farmer at all. Clintonville Farm Market makes sure you get it straight from the farm without a middle man.
Clintonville also has a nice diversity. I can find my Ohio Bison there, and since they were having their roast sale I bought enough to get one free. Cheese, eggs, milk, grains, bread, fruit, veggies – they had it all. Some of the farmers that were at my all time favorite Athens farm market were in Clintonville. I was able to pick up spelt berries and my husband found his tortilla chips made with locally grown corn.
I have paid with cash, check and credit card at different vendors, though they don’t all take credit card or check, sometimes one or the other, but not always both. Clintonville Farmer’s Market has a solution if you find yourself in a bind. They sell tokens and can take EBT/Debit cards as payment. These tokens can be used for purchasing from the vendors.
My only issue with Clintonville Farmer’s Market was the parking. We couldn’t tell where we were welcome to park the car. A couple of places looked blocked off to prevent shoppers from using their lots so we ended up on a side street. I’m sure the neighbors get a little tired, we kept to the street so as not to impose, but even then when we were walking back to the car an exasperated driver barreled down the street past me. On their website is a list of places you are welcome to park. I should have researched it better before I started out.
October 29th’s market is the last one for the regular Clintonville Farmer’s Market. Stock up the freezer, buy some winter squash and store it in your basement. You have just a couple more chances buy your fall fruit and veggies and don’t forget those spelt berries!
As the smaller Farm Markets are coming to a close for the season, I have some lessons that I learned to share with you. As the near by ones close, I will go to some that are further from my home, especially if I can find where my favorite vendors will be. I am determined to find fresh local seasonal ingredients for my family. Here are some lessons I’ve learned…
1. Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food – Recently I’ve felt duped by some of the vendors, and even the local market stores. Not every vendor grows their own food or knows the farmer who grows the food. We have found boxes that list an auction site as the place the vegetables have come from instead of a single farmer. I have started asking for the source of the tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. When I go to the stand, I will ask the farmer where they get the vegetables from. They have to be the farmer, or know the farmer. They have to know whether the farmer uses pesticides or fertilizers and how long before the market, the vegetables are picked. If they don’t know the farmer, you don’t know the farmer – or your food.
2. Don’t buy more than you can use. This year we did more canning than we’ve ever done before, and maybe more than we needed to do. I don’t think I will end up with a lot of left over though. You need to make sure you are going to use it all. Throwing food away that you have worked to can or put up is just as bad as letting it rot in the fridge. Having too much that it goes bad is wasteful whether it goes into the composter or not. Water, gas, fertilizers, etc all go into that food, and will be wasted as well.
3. In most cases, if you buy it at the market you need to use it, or preserve it quickly. Have a plan and a process in place. Plan your meals around what you’ve bought. If you are going to can, or freeze, take care of it right away so that you don’t lose anything to rot. I hate having to cull through and find that I should have processed it right away. We did much better at that this year, which made me very happy. We also learned to stop buying when we thought we had enough.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for a deal, but be reasonable. I have asked my favorite farmers for a deal on quantity, or if the basket looks to be low or picked over. I’ve even not asked and gotten it because I am a good customer. When I am making salsa or sauce, something I need quantity for I will ask for canners ahead of time and let them know that I will be ready the next weekend to buy. I also ask what they’ve got that’s a good deal. They don’t want leftovers so prices change when the quanity is high or if it is scarce that year.
5. Go back to your favorites, and introduce yourself. If you give them time, they will give you time back. I bought string beans – I was going to buy just a small basket, but my husband wanted to buy the big basket. Tony the farmer said, “Hey – Okay these are redneck beans, snap this end, this end and peel the string down both sides.” He wanted to make sure I knew how to start the prep on the beans. I parboiled them and froze them but I was glad he showed me the first steps. This week my husband said he wanted another watermelon, so I asked Tony if he had something nice and sweet. He picked up a watermelon he had sliced already, gave my husband a taste and asked if that was good. Of course we bought one.
Do you have any suggestions for getting the best out of your farm market?
These photos don’t do justice to the vendors. My camera phone was on video, and so I have half second videos but not photos, drat. There were lots of nice vendors at North Market though some had packed up by the time we arrived – maybe because of the rain. Athens Market beats them in the grain department, and variety, but still North Market has plenty of veggies, Oink Moo Cluck brought the home grown meat (we bought chicken). There were a couple of cheese places – I got feta for my salads, and my husband wanted the chipotle – which my daughter thinks will go well in her mexi-salad (along with the chorizo from Blues Creek inside the market). My husband found some great looking carrots too. We visited with Isaac from Honey Run Farm, he has awesome smelling soap – I love, love, love the mint smelling soap. We picked up soap and honey from him. Someday my husband wants to start his own beehives, but we’re still in the thinking about it stage.
My husband suggested North Market because he wanted to buy me some chocolates for my anniversary. Last weekend was comfest and he wasn’t able to get close to North Market. This weekend was easier and we filled the biggest box with delicious chocolates. We also bought some really nice rib steaks to share with the kids on Monday from Blues Creek. I asked my son if he would be home for dinner on Monday – when he heard it was steak, it was a definite affirmative. He said he’ll go to the friend’s after dinner. I bought more lamb mint sausage, chorizo, bacon, and ribs and brisket from Blues Creek. There were tons of people coming by, but the wait is short.
Stopped by Jeni’s for flavor tasting – you know they gladly let you have a small sample of any and every flavor. Gotta say though – we think the sweet corn black raspberry is tasty, but just a little on the weird side; I enjoyed the coriander raspberry the best. Picked up some wildberry lavendar which is one of my staples, coffee, coriander raspberry and mint. My husband and I are thinking of making our own ice cream since we have mint, and berries – I need to pick up a copy of Jeni’s book, I’m getting ice cream inspired.
While I was at Blues Creek, my husband hit up the Greener Grocer for Luna Burgers and granola. We also picked up some more mint plants and a flowering plant from the farm market and one guy had a bunch of different types of cucumbers. I’ve got dill, so it will go together for a nice salad. I wish I had better photos for you, but maybe you’ll just need to stop out yourself and see what you can find there.