Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

July 10, 2014
Farmers markets are a great summer tradition

I enjoy summer for a lot of reasons. The long days are hard to beat with the coolness that comes in the hours just before and during dusk. I find it very energizing and it’s the part of the day I’ll take on some of the more difficult outside duties. In the next few nights, you’ll find me putting in a new waterline at the back of my shop to supply both the new shop cooler we’ve installed, as well as the water mains to all the raised beds and hoop house that are going in the plot right behind the building.

You’re probably like me, though. When it’s really hot, it’s easy to be discontent and long for the cooler weather. If I’m realistic about this, though, I’m a bit of a whiner. It wasn’t that long ago that I was immersed in the activities of snow removal, base layers, and lighting the wood stove to keep the cold at bay. Thoughts turned to how nice it will be for summer to come. If only we could figure out how to have Spring and Fall all year. While that sounds really good, I suspect I’d find something else to complain about.

Even with its heat, the fact is that there are a lot of things to enjoy about summer. Swimming, 4th of July celebrations, and of course, those addicting Hawaiian shaved ice treats all make for something to look forward to each year. I’d like to add another thing to the list: the Farmer’s Market.

The Farmer’s Market movement has continued to grow across the nation, and for good reason. Local produce and home-produced goods are regularly available at the market, and closely reflect the current local growing season and its crop variety. Add to the mix all the social interaction, gardening tips, bragging rights, fresh air and great eating, and what’s not to like?

So, it’s great news that the Benson Gristmill Farmer’s Market is opening this coming Saturday, July 12th, running from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. In fact, the market will be open each Saturday from now until approximately mid-October.

Walt Barlow is my friend from the Tooele County Master Gardeners and is also the organizer of the Benson Grist Mill Farmer’s Market. Walt tells me that the Market has been a Tooele County tradition for over a decade now. A lot of produce has moved through there, and this season will be no exception.

Produce and products will be available from local farmers, backyard growers and craftspeople. Early crops will be available this Saturday, such as rhubarb, spinach, chard, kale, early onions and lettuce. As the season progresses, selections will change to include items like tomatoes, peppers, onions, watermelon, summer squash, eggplant and okra.

Fruits will be sold as well. Maybe you’ll find cherries, apricots and some early peaches this weekend. As the season goes along, more peaches, apples, plums, nectarines, grapes and pears will grace the farmer’s market offering.

Barlow indicated they’ve been able to add something unique this year as well. They will be able to accept both traditional forms for payment (cash, check and in many cases, debit cards), as well as EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards issued through the Utah Food Stamp program. It’s tough to get more “bang for the buck” than with the healthy food at the farmer’s market.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a farmer’s market if there wasn’t some bartering going on. Who knows what you might bring back home after trading some of that fresh garlic, radishes or turnips you’ve harvested?

For those of you that are interested in selling your produce, there are no fees for selling spaces. Any farmer or backyard gardener that has a crop that they’d like to sell can participate, and you don’t need a license. You can simply show up before the Market opens and check in with Walt no later than 8:30 a.m.  You’ll need to provide your own table, platform or truck tailgate to sell off of. Because there is limited shade available, “pop up” shades are strongly encouraged, along with adequate tie downs, as it can be breezy from time to time. Health regulations require that nothing be sold off the ground. So, if you have something that you want to set low, it will have to be on a pallet or something similar.

Any local non-produce craft or product is welcome as well with no fee, but you’ll need to have an appropriate county business license to offer these wares. If the product offered is a prepared food for consumption at the event, a food handler’s permit is required. This would apply for food wagons, shaved ice and pretzels and such. For those requiring power for their selling space, there is a limited amount of receptacles available on a “first come, first served” basis.

Home processed foods (such as jams and pie fillings) cannot be sold without a home cottage foods license. Eggs can be offered for sale, but must be kept refrigerated at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

If you’d like to know more about selling your product at this or any other Utah farmer’s market, point your browser to http://ag.utah.gov/documents/OutdoorMarketRequirements.pdf and download this authoritative document and “do it right.”

I plan to be at the Market this Saturday and hope to see you there. It’s located at 325 SR 138, in northern Stansbury Park.  Park just to the East of the Benson Grist Mill, either along the street or in the “Park and Ride” lot just across the street and East of the facility. Come in the gates by the Pavilion.

For more information, contact Walt Barlow at 435-850-0458, or kd7hfz@gmail.com.

Aw, summer. And, here’s just one more great thing to enjoy about it.

 

Jay Cooper can be contacted at jay@dirtfarmerjay.com, or you can visit his website at dirtfarmerjay.com for videos and articles on gardening, shop skills, culinary arts and landscaping.

Jay Cooper

Garden Spot Columnist at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Jay Cooper is a new contributing writer for the Garden Spot column. He replaced Diane Sagers, who retired in November 2013 after writing the column for 27 years. Also known as Dirt Farmer Jay, Cooper and his wife have been residents of Erda since 2001 after moving to Utah from Tucson, AZ. A passionate gardener and avid reader of horticultural topics, for several years he has been a member of Utah State University’s Master Gardeners Program, and served as chapter president in 2013. Cooper says Tooele County has an active and vibrant gardening community, and the Garden Spot column will continue to share a wide range of gardening, landscaping, home skills and rural living themes.

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