Even when Iâ€™m bound by work obligations, my lady and I still find time on Saturdays to visit a farmerâ€™s market. We make meals throughout the week, and finding nice groceries at good prices (especially produce) is important to us. Locally grown zucchini can make a delightful salad when thinly sliced and drizzled with vinaigrette. Fresh strawberries tend to be sweeter than the store-bought ones and, when added to vanilla ice cream, make the simplest kind of perfect summer dessert. Then, of course, there are tomatoes. Was there ever an item of grocery store produce more tainted with blandness than the tomato? Get one from a farmerâ€™s market if you need to be refreshed on how theyâ€™re supposed to taste.
Of course, you can grow your own. And farmers markets normally sell starters for various fruits, herbs and vegetables. If you arrive hungry, thereâ€™s bound to be stands selling breakfast and lunch items â€“ and probably a local coffee company representing there as well. Aside from the produce, you can find locally made jams, honeys, salsas and handmade crafts, such as pottery and jewelry.
All of these things are to be found â€“ in great varieties â€“ at the St. Matthews Farmers Market, held 8 a.m.-noon every Saturday in front of Beargrass Christian Church on Shelbyville Road in the long parking lot. Penny Peavler is very involved with the marketâ€™s organization and in getting the word out. This is their eighth year.
â€œWe started the market as a community outreach mission of the Beargrass Christian Church,â€ says Peavler. â€œOur goal is to provide fresh local food for the community and to be a good community partner. The marketâ€™s really taken off. Weâ€™ve won the â€˜Best Urban Farmerâ€™s Marketâ€™ in the state. Weâ€™ve won some awards for some of the special programs weâ€™ve offered. Weâ€™ve offered a canning class, jam making, and we want to show people that weâ€™re serious about promoting a healthy lifestyle, promoting a sustainable food chain and supporting local small businesses.â€
Grannyâ€™s Delights is one of these businesses and a longtime vendor. Melanie Gritton and her mother, Myrtle Hutchins, were there the last Saturday we visited, continuing a lifelong tradition of selling their canned jellies and pickles at local markets. Meanwhile, new vendors like Kentucky Smoked Barbecueâ€™s David Starbuck were there, handing out samples of their goods â€“ and doing killer business.
An interesting vendor that caught my girlfriendâ€™s attention is called â€œHealthy Meals for Busy People.â€ They operate out of Foxhollow Farms in Crestwood, where Chef Jared Wilkinson provides a food service for people too occupied to seek out nutritious sustenance with pure ingredients. Theyâ€™re often called-upon for gift meals for people who are grieving or are preoccupied with a newborn. Their items are also provided in compostable containers.
Black Cat Pottery, a family-owned business at the Mellwood Arts Center, had a nice bunch of rustic items that would be very attractive as functional dishes for serving food at the dinner table.
One produce stand was run by the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program, which provides support for immigrants with farming experience and helps get their produce to local markets.
â€œSt. Matthews has a very interesting history with agriculture,â€ says Peavler. â€œOur church is one of the oldest churches in Louisville. It was founded as â€˜Beargrass Baptist Church.â€™ Thereâ€™s a historical marker there in front of Shelbyville Road Plaza. Thatâ€™s where there was a big fruit and vegetable exchange.â€
â€œWe average about 2,000 people a weekend here,â€ says Peavler.
I can believe it. We were also blessed with a pleasant clear morning. We left with tomatoes, zucchini, squash, local pure raw honey, and some strawberry orange jam. A farmerâ€™s market is a good place to start off the day and a great place to provide for the rest of the week. VT
Visit smfarmersmarket.com for the market calendar and vendor information.