May brings the start of the producer only farmers market near our house. A producer-only market means that vendors at the market are only allowed to sell items they have produced themselves. This might seem obvious but go to a larger farmers market and you’ll see some produce that might make you scratch your head about it’s seasonal timing. This particular farmer’s market, that we frequent, focuses on local farmers in a 125 mile radius within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed area. It’s hard to get more local than that! This week’s farmer’s market bounty might not be much but it’s a start from this wet cold spring. Rhubarb is growing, greenhouse tomatoes, spring onions, french radishes, fresh basil, and mixes of lettuces. The sweet tart spicy apples might be stored from the fall’s harvest but they are still crisp and delicious. Nothing pithy about them. I see a great value in supporting these farms early in the year to allow them to plant more crops and continue their farming through the rest of the summer. A few smaller farms were only selling seedlings and a few greens that survived the winter. Their vegetables won’t be ready for a few more weeks but they are supplementing with extra seedlings from their plantings. We’re planning on buying some herb seedlings next week to keep us in herbs this summer. I might even consider some mint (for a container) so we can drink mint juleps on the porch all summer long! Some of these lovely french radishes will be eaten raw with some Kerry Gold butter. Other’s will surely make into a salad with some of that baby lettuce mix. Or maybe even roasted with a whole chicken. As soon as I found this rhubarb, I thought to use it in a crumble or maybe these strawberry rhubarb crumble bars for dessert with friends. These beautiful spring onions have yet to be used but they’d be great on the grill as a side to a juicy steak. Juicy cherry tomatoes quickly went into a salad with the baby lettuce. I also pan roasted a handful off to eat in a hot tomato mozzarella salad with some left over mint and a sprinkle of fresh basil.
Here’s some info about farmer’s markets around DC:
FreshFarm Markets runs many farmers markets in the DC area.
Old Town Alexandria has a year round farmer’s market in their Market Square.
Closer to Mount Vernon the McCutcheon/Mount Vernon farmer’s market runs from May to October.
Central Farm Markets runs farmer’s markets in Bethesda, the Fairfax Mosaic District, and Rockville.