A Year at the Farmers Market is a series of weekly posts about the people and products at the North Carolina State Farmers Market.
This week the weather in Raleigh was once again unseasonably warm. The sky was sunny and clear, allowing the temperatures to get into the upper-50’s. I left both my jacket and my son at home - this was my first trip to the Farmers Market without him in a long time (my son, that is), and I realized that it was going to be hard to carry all of my bags without the help of his stroller. Due to the ongoing but never seen “construction activity,” all of the vendors were still in their new location at the opposite end of the open warehouse, and the warm temperatures seemed to have brought out a decent late crowd.
I noticed that the first plant vendor of the season had moved in, though I didn’t recognize what he was selling, and there was a woman selling big bunches of the daffodils that have been prematurely emerging all over the city in the last few weeks. I picked up the usual dozen eggs from Bob Hancock of Green Hill Farms, and decided to try one of his bone-in turkey breasts. In a cost-saving “eat local” measure, I’ve decided to stop buying sliced no-salt turkey breast from the Whole Foods deli and just make my own from a local source. The slicing turkey is $8.99 at Whole Foods, the whole raw turkey breasts are $5.99 at Whole Foods, but Bob’s frozen bone-in double breasts are only $3.79 (all prices per pound). My purchase clocked in at just under three pounds, and we’ll see how it comes out. I’ve also been craving Eastern North Carolina-style BBQ (the only kind), but my usual source for pork shoulder roasts is no longer acceptable to me (the grocery store). Luckily, Sally and Warren Coad of Freedom Farms also sell pork raised by their neighbor. I picked up a roast from them at a steep $6.99 per pound, so I hope it’s a good cut. Freedom Farms also had a great sale to celebrate their trip to Texas to compete in something or other - 10% off everything, and a whopping 25% off if you had $300 or more to burn on their products. They were packing up early and actually complaining that swarming customers kept stopping them from leaving. I found that odd.
Of course the Greens Guy was there, and my underground love for greens is now completely blown as his grandaughter now recognizes me immediately and refers to me as the Kale Man. I do buy something green from them every week, but it isn’t always kale. They always have turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, and spinach. All year, every day they are there. They were there when it was snowing a few weeks ago. They are there in the heat of the summer, asking you if you need some collards if you so much as glance in the direction of their produce. My preferred apple seller is down to two varieties from seven or so earlier in the apple season - thankfully, one of the remaining is everyone’s favorite (Pink Lady) and I picked up a big basket for $5. Beth Moore is churning out great-looking big spring onions, so I picked some up along with some of their remaining butternut squash.
This Winter has really been a revelation for me at the market. I recall lamenting the last weeks of the market in the fall when I was excited to find one person still selling fresh peppers, but now I’m already dreading the loss of apples and winter squash. It might be time to think about stocking the freezer with Winter goodness before it’s too late!