Cool temperatures this spring have delayed planting for many home gardeners, and even early colder-weather crops are still far short of harvest time.
But it’s possible to get a jump on spring at local farmers markets. Greenhouses allow growers to ripen some vegetables earlier than in most backyards. But just getting out and talking to growers can give gardeners a taste of the season.
The Greenwood Farmers Market opened for the season April 27. Hours will be 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays at Greenwood United Methodist Church, 525 N. Madison Ave. The first offerings of the season in Greenwood will be bedding plants (vegetables and flowers), early spring vegetables and baked goods.
The Franklin Farmers Market will open this week and run every Saturday through Oct. 5. Hours are 8 to 11 a.m. at Jefferson and Jackson streets.
To learn more about the Greenwood market, visit www.facebook.com/pages/GreenwoodFarmers
Items for sale in Franklin will include fruits, vegetables, flowers, art, honey, eggs, meat, jellies and jams, lawn decorations, jewelry, hot peppers sauces and more. Local musicians will perform throughout the season.
Farmers markets are a key part of the local food movement. They are a solid way for consumers to link up directly with producers. You can ask them how crops are grown and how they are treated. For instance, if you are looking for organically grown meat or produce, the local farmers can tell you exactly what you need to know.
An aspect of the local food movement is that it keeps consumer dollars at home. There is no middle man or retail markup. This doesn’t always translate into lower prices but does translate into fresher products.
In many cases, local farmers can grow varieties of fruits and vegetables that are richer in taste and nutrients but that don’t transport as well. Because the produce doesn’t have to travel so far, it is more likely to survive the trip in good shape.
Last summer in Franklin, grower Jenny Mowrey talked about the unique relationships that are possible at the markets.
“The customer always has questions for us. They want to know where their food came from, how it’s being grown,” she said. “More people are getting involved in health food and healthy lifestyles, which is good for our sales.”
She and her business partner, Kim Minton, have been selling their goods for the past five years as the Farmers’ Daughters. The Franklin-based business specializes in fresh flowers but also dabbles in popcorn, eggs, onions, peppers and other produce.
The farmers market has been invaluable to spreading their brand and building their client base, Mowrey said. New people walk by their stand every weekend during the summer, and while their regular customers have helped support them over the years, the chance to attract a new audience is what drives the business.
Local farmers markets have grown over the past half-dozen years. Greenwood has gone from 15 vendors to nearly 50 last year.
We celebrate the success of the markets. They are a boon for both consumers and producers.
And we look forward to later in the season, when we can savor the lettuce, onions, herbs, tomatoes, beans, strawberries, squash, melon and sweet corn — all picked that morning. Clearly a recipe for success.