Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Bounty Hunter

It's another quiet late summer morning, and hardly a soul was out as I walked down sun-sprinkled, tree-lined allets and avenues one my way to and from the farmers' market. The market, of course, buzzed with the pleasant conversation of farmers, merchants, and townspeople alike, but my solitary walk allowed me the chance to listen to the crickets and the birds instead.

This is such a lovely time of year, when the morning air holds a faint crisp note that pairs well with the multitude of apple varieties appearing at the market. And I find now that I can walk blithely by the baskets of tomatoes since I only have eyes for the earthy potatoes and firmly rounded squash.

You'll pardon me if I tend to wax rhapsodic about the local farmers' market, but as always, I managed to fill my backpack with produce and goods for what seems a mere pittance:

-late green beans and mixed greens from the gentleman farmer (and his two little boys)

-sweet, rosy red and pink Mollie apples from the orchardist who reminds me of an elderly cousin

-two tight, fist-sized cabbages and a pint of locally produced honey from a mother-son team (I have to stock up on honey for baklava, you know!)

-whole wheat pita breads from a gregarious woman who also sells homemade hummus and, yes, baklava

-two more baby pumpkins from the cheerful lady; I have yet to try to pumpkin cake recipe again, but she tells me she'd be happy to volunteer as a taste tester

-a large head of broccoli and a quart of Kennebec potatoes from the Amish farm stand

Add to that the last three cucumbers picked from my own garden, and you can see that today provided a bountiful harvest.

I've read that less than one percent of the entire population of the U. S. are full-time farmers, and "farmer" is no longer an occupation choice on the U. S. Census. In an area of rich soils and extensive farmlands, you'd think there would be more farmers at our local market. But those that do come in to town on Saturday mornings offer a wonderful change from the faceless, plastic-wrapped selections at local groceries.

So when you get right down to it, I know what I'd rather hunt for:

Farm produce with a friendly face.


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