It’s probably the single thing that downtown residents look forward to the most in spring: the farmers’ market. Finding good food in winter has gotten easier with the advent of Just Ripe and The Market at Union and Gay, but there is really no substitute for the great variety of fresh vegetables delivered each Wednesday and Saturday by local and regional farmers.
Since we are so early in the growing season, the food offerings start out slowly and build. There are some greens and lettuce along with other bits and pieces, but most of the food is prepared at this point. Spices, baked goods – both fresh breads and sweets and meats, for example. There seem to be more meat vendors this year and the number of people selling flowers has steadily increased.
It was obvious on Saturday that the number of booths has exploded. Vendors have always lined the center of the square and the first block of Market Street. Last year they started spilling up and down Union from the Square. This past Saturday they lined the square all the way to the stage and wrapped around it. I’m wondering if it will have to stretch farther when the vegetables really come in and more farmers want space. I noticed Cruze Farms has expanded to offer tables under a tarp. Those guys are pretty sharp marketers in several obvious respects.
Much of what was for sale was non-food items. I mentioned flowers earlier, but there was also bird houses, hand-made wooden toys, soaps, clothing and large numbers of plants. It’s really more like a street-fair, as I’ve said before, or a more generalized market in which all manner of hand-crafted goods are offered.
Music and great smells waft through the air, children and parents enjoy the fountain. It’s just an all-around great scene. If you’ve never made it there, that’s a shame and you should fix that problem. If you’ve been there before, you don’t need me to convince you. It runs from 11:00 to 2:00 on Wednesday and from 9:00 to 2:00 on Saturday. Come early for the best deals.