by Lisa Lozano
Every Friday, we’re letting you know what is fresh and in season in a different part of the U.S. by spotlighting a unique regional farmers market.
This week, we’re checking out the Countryside Farmers' Market at Howe Meadow, a unique farmers market in Peninsula, Ohio, that is held in a field at a beautiful National Park. We chatted with Markets Manager Beth Knorr who gave us the lowdown.
Lisa Lozano: What’s in season right now at your market?
Beth Knorr: Right now we have asparagus, rhubarb, and are anticipating strawberries in the next week or two- one of the most anticipated items of the year!
LL: What sets your farmers market apart?
BK: One of the things that sets our market apart is our spectacular location in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It's convenient to hiking and biking trails along the Ohio and Erie Canal, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, and many other amenities. Additionally, the classes and educational opportunities we offer through Countryside U help set us apart as well- cooking demonstrations, tomato tastings, and cocktail classes all occur at our markets throughout the season.
LL: What is your region’s trademark crop?
BK: I would say our region's trademark crop, at least at farmers' markets, is sweet corn. However, we boast much more rare items like purple and yellow raspberries, too, that are difficult to find in many other regions.
LL: What unique challenges do farmers in your region face?
BK: I'm not sure it's unique, but soaring land prices are a real challenge, as well as the changing climate causing wild swings in weather and temperature, which makes it difficult to follow historical planting patterns. It makes it a challenge to plan from year to year.
LL: What tips do you have for customers in choosing produce?
BK: In general, look for vibrant colors, perky leaves, smooth skin. That being said, knowing what you want to use the item for can help you save. For example, if you're planning to make peach jam, it's fine to buy 'seconds' because looks won't matter. They'll taste just as great but will be less expensive.
LL: What advice would you give to a visitor shopping at a farmers market for the first time?
BK: Come prepared to take your time and enjoy the market. It's much more than a shopping experience. Talk to the market staff and ask questions about what's available- they can help you find what's unique in the market or what's coming in or out of season. Don't hesitate to ask questions of the farmers and food business entrepreneurs there, but be mindful of their time if it's a busy day.
Click here to learn more about the Countryside Farmers' Market at Howe Meadow, and be sure to check back next week to hear about the regional produce in another area of the U.S.
Photos courtesy (in order of appearance): Gary Whipple, Kimberly Stakes Photography and Gary Kroggel.