Despite the advent of refrigerated trucks that deliver fresh produce to the supermarket from places far and near, nothing quite as tasty as fresh, home-garden-grown produce. Not everyone has the space, time, energy or eagerness to grow their own garden produce, but that needn’t be a deterrent to enjoy the bounties of the garden.
Fresh is the key descriptor of the mouth-watering list of fresh local produce on sale at the Farmers’ Markets each Saturday morning in Tooele County. The Tooele County Master Gardeners host one on the large lawn behind the barn at the Benson Gristmill in Stansbury Park. Although the Benson Gristmill has been closed this summer due to budget cuts, the county gave the Tooele County Master Gardeners permission to host the annual Farmers’ Market on the expanse of lawn behind the mill. Anyone with produce to sell is invited to bring their green groceries and join in at no charge. Simply bring your wares and set up to sell between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Crafters are also welcome, although most of the visitors are there for produce rather than crafts.
A second Farmers’ Market is set up at Clark Historic Farm, 378 W. Clark, Grantsville, on Saturdays from now until Sept. 28, 8-11 a.m. Produce and handcrafted booths are free. Contact Tammy Wright, email@example.com for more info.
Fortunately, we have many skilled gardeners in this area and their plots burgeon with bounties they can share. Both markets are hosted to bring gardeners and their abundant produce to the rest of us.
Farmers and gardeners stay up late or rise bright and early Saturday morning to harvest their green groceries. They bring their just-picked produce and “set up shop.” Folks find the taste unbeatable and they stop by to purchase the home-grown fresh-picked produce. It hearkens back to an era when all such shopping took place in the town square.
Browsing among the tasty offerings at the market conjures up images of harvest dinners and summer-in-a-bowl. The turnout has been excellent with many salivating shoppers who can hardly wait to get home and start cooking fresh corn, fresh tomatoes, fresh carrots, fresh zucchini, fresh peppers, fresh apples, fresh squash, fresh melons, fresh chard, fresh kale, fresh peaches, fresh honey…
“You can find pretty much everything that grows in this area,” said Walt Barlow, chairman of the Benson Gristmill event. “We sell corn, tomatoes, chard, kale, specialty stuff, onions, peppers, potatoes — all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Some of the gardeners display quantities of a few select items that they do well such as corn, peppers, chilies and tomatoes. Others bring a wide array of foods that add variety to the selections.”
Buyers browse through the offerings, visiting with vendors and friends that happen in while the kids find the grass a great place to play as they wait.
The event grows weekly. Each week more producers arrive with their fruits and vegetables. They park on the lawn, and sell from open trunks, truck beds and tables. Visitors drive down the lane just east of the mill, park and shop. Some browse to see what is available while others come looking for a particular item from a particular vendor. All are welcome both to sell and to purchase.
Although technically the growers are competing with each other, their attitudes are more like a visit over the backyard fence as they share their growing secrets with one another. One vendor tells another how he has kept the birds out of his apples and another describes his midnight foray into the vegetable patch to control insects without harming the bees.
Slices of tomatoes and chunks of apples set out for taste testing whet the buyers’ appetites. The honey producers share morsels of muffins made with their honey and explain how they got into the bee business.
That has been the traditional scene but it gets even better as more “budding” farmers arrive with their wares. So far about 10 or more vendors come weekly and they find it worth their while to continue the process.
For more information, contact Walt Barlow at 882-3583.