Now that the summer season has made its official debut in Northeast Ohio, area farmers markets are in full swing. Not only are local markets great places to find the freshest food and unique handmade products, they also are great learning opportunities, both for children and adults.
“Shopping at the farmers market allows parents to make informed choices about what they’re putting on the table and in their kids’ bellies,” says Heather Roszczyk, education and marketing manager for Countryside Conservancy, organizer of the Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow in Peninsula. “At a producers-only market…you buy the food directly from the person that raised, grew or made it, so you have the opportunity to talk with them and learn about their growing practices and ingredients.”
“(What) they are serving has been picked fresh and brought to the market quickly, not spending precious time on a truck traveling great distances,” adds Marcey Bryant, recreation coordinator for the city of Mentor, which hosts a weekly farmers market in Garfield Park (cityofmentor.com/play/mentormarket). “Also, many times the produce is less expensive than the grocery stores, when it is in season.”
The markets offer parents opportunities to teach healthy eating habits and set a good example of eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, according to Joe DeGaetano, vice president and general manager of Miles Farmers Market. “You’re also teaching them how to pick out good, fresh produce — not picking up a package,” he adds.
“They’ll get to see vegetables as they look when harvested — carrots with their tops, Brussels sprouts on the stalk — and can meet the very farmer that grew them,” Roszczyk says. “They’ll also learn about diversity; at Countryside Farmers’ Market’s annual Tomato Tasting each August, over 30 varieties of tomatoes are available to sample, each with a unique appearance and flavor.
“It’s also fun to give your child a small amount of money to spend as they choose,” she adds. “With just $5, they can learn about budgeting, prioritizing desires and polite interactions with the vendors.”
Farmers markets offer more than just food, too.
“They often include events such as children’s activities, chef demos, live music and other activities that make markets more than just places to shop at,” according to a spokesperson for Gordon Square Market, which takes place every Wednesday in the Cleveland Public Theatre lot on Detroit Avenue. “Community partners often table at farmers markets, allowing parents and children to learn about organizations in their neighborhood and how they can become involved more with their community.”
With most markets open through September or October it’s time to get creative in the kitchen.
In Season Options
When shopping farmers markets, it’s best to plan your family’s meals around the available seasonal produce. Pair the sustainably-raised meat, eggs and cheese found at most markets with the following fruits and vegetables. In July, expect to find beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes, squash and tomatoes. July also brings fruits like blackberries, cantaloupe, peaches, raspberries and strawberries.
Visit ourohio.org/food/whats-in-season for a monthly breakdown.
Farm to Kitchen
Looking for inspiration for our fresh seasonal produce? Here are two options.
Garlic Sape Pesto
1 lb. garlic scapes,
cut into 1-inch chunks
1 C grated parmesan or romano cheese
1 C olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. This makes a great sauce for pasta and pizza. Leftovers can be frozen.
Submitted by Birdsong Farm (birdsongfarmohio.com)
Sautéed Asparagus with Roasted Garlic
1 bunch fresh asparagus,
medium to thin; trimmed and
washed in cold water, then dried
2 tsp. olive oil
2 T roasted garlic cloves,
1 /4 C fresh oregano,
3 T toasted pine nuts
1/2 tsp. French sea salt
(Fleur de sel) or quality salt
In a 10- or 12-inch sauté pan, heat olive oil to moderately high heat and add asparagus. Sauté for 2 minutes, gently turning asparagus. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic. Sauté for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and oregano. Turn off heat. Place on serving plate. Season with salt just before serving.
Submitted by Miles Farmers Market (milesfarmersmarket.com)
For more hours and addresses, visit NortheastOhioFamilyFun.com
Crocker Park Market, Through Dec. 19 Westlake
Tremont Farmers MarketThrough Oct. 6
Frostville Farmers Market Through October, North Olmsted
Strongsville Farmers Market, August through early October
Geauga Fresh Farmers Market Through October, South Russell
Willoughby Outdoor Market,Through October
Mentor Farmers Market, Through Sept. 25
Avon Lake Farmers Market,Through September
Medina Farmers Market, Through Oct. 11
Haymaker Farmers Market,Through October, Kent
Aurora Farmers Market, Through Aug. 26
Farmers Market of Massillon, Through Oct. 3
Alliance Farmers Market, Through Oct. 10
Copley Creekside Farmers MarketThrough Oct. 8
Hudson Farmers Market Through October,Village Green
Tallmadge Farmers Market, Through Oct. 15
Farmers Market in the Falls Through Oct. 2, Cuyahoga Falls