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rlibkind

2010 Farmers Markets

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The farmer's market at The Piazza at Schmitt's held its second session today with 18 vendors, including 10 farmers and four bakers.

The market, directly sponsored by the rental apartment complex's developer, Tower Investments, is the only farmer's market in the city I know of which not sponsored or affiliated with either Farm To City or The Food Trust.

Kyle Perry, a hospitality industry veteran who has volunteered with The Food Trust for the past three years, thinks the easy availability of free off-street parking, across Germantown Avenue from the Piazza, should help it become a "destination" as well as a neighborhood market for Northern Liberties and Fishtown residents.

Root vegetables, of course, dominated at the produce stands, but leaks could still be obtained, also, at Livengood's and Culton's Organics. Earl Livengood, who hangs out the Reading Terminal Market and Clark Park during the season, said he's still got two rows of leeks to harvest back at farm on the outskirts of Lancaster, so expect to see them at least for another week, maybe a bit longer. Storage apples were also available from a number of the farmers, along with some cold weather greens. Culton was also pushing his organically raised quails.

Other produce, meat and dairy farmers who showed up today included Griggstown Quail Farm (though most of their items were their pot pies), Shellbark Hollow for goat cheese, Landisdale Farm (which also had a stall at Clark Park today), Natural Meadows Farms (poultry, meat and eggs), Savoie Farm (potatoes), Birchrun Hills Farm (cheese, veal), Highland Orchards, and M& Farview Farm (beef, lamb, goat, pork and dairy products). Bakers were Big Sky, La Baguette, Wild Flour and Market Canele (which shared a stand with Joe Coffee). The other vendors included Northern Liberties' own Penn Herb, Just Dogs Gourmet, Beautiful Blooms Boutique and Summer Salsa.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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In early December at the Headhouse Square Farmers' Market Beechwood Orchards featured Newtown Pippin apples, a variety that dates to the early 1700s, first found in what is now the New York City borough of Queens.

It is regarded as one of the great storage apples, i.e., it improves with age. And February is regarded as the peak month for its eating. So the other day I pulled one out of the fruit bin of my fridge (stored in a plastic bag with plenty of air holes).

It was superb, and a contradiction of complex flavors: sweet and tart, crisp and tender. It's an apple with depth. Much superior to when I tasted it immediately after purchase. And it stored beautifully, with no soft spots or blemishes beyond those present when picked.

I'll be sure to lay in a supply again next December.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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My love of farmer's markets and local food- has me (in my spare time) helping out at farmer's markets as a substitute helper.

I'll be at the Piazza tomorrow, Saturday, March 20 working at Mark Skinner's meat stand: Natural Meadows.

10 a.m-2 p.m.

Come by and introduce yourself!

Susan (Mrs. Tarte Tatin)


Philly Francophiles

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Although a couple year-round farmers' markets are open (Clark Park, Rittenhouse Square and the Piazza at Schmidt's, Saturdays, Suburban Station on Thursdays), the full range of city and suburban markets will start to open in early May, beginning with Headhouse Square on May 2 and Fairmount on May 6.

As I wrote last spring (see post) the Reading Terminal Market is considering sponsoring a farmer's market. Although nothing's set in stone at this point, it's looking likely for opening sometime this spring or summer, probably in cooperation with Farm To City. It would be open on Sundays and located on the sidewalk adjacent to the open air parking lot across 12th Street from the market, which is different than the original thought that it would be opening Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m.


Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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100320clarkpark.jpg

The first day of spring -- and a gorgeous one at that -- drew plenty of shoppers, vendors and a couple of music makers to Clark Park yesterday, the year-round farmers' market in West Philly operated by The Food Trust.

Even the daffodils cooperated by coming out in bloom.

If you wanted a few salad greens, they could be obtained from Brogue Hydroponics. The York Country grower, after an experiment for a few weeks last year, added Clark Park to their regular rotation of farmers' markets this year. They also sell at Eastern Market in York, Anselma Mill Market in Chester Spring and Bel Air Market in Bel Air, Maryland. The six-greenhouse operation, which also wholesales to restaurants, utilizes integrated pest management.

Other produce vendors at Clark Park (whose fresh offerings were mostly restricted to root vegetables and storage apples) included Eden Garden, Hail's Family Farm (dairy), Mountain View Farm (poultry), Landisdale Farm, Keystone Farm, and Noelle Margerum.

Also on hand were Forest View Bakery, Market Day Canele, John & Kira Chocolates, Slow Rise Bakery, and Honest Tom's Tacos.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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080810benuelkaufman.jpgBenuel Kauffman

Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce has been a fixture at the Reading Terminal Market for 20 years. Benuel Kauffman is among the handful of greengrocers who work directly with area farmers to bring their fruits and vegetables to the Reading Terminal Market. (The others are Iovine Brother's Produce and O.K. Lee, who have contracts with farmers to provide certain produce, Fair Food Farmstand and, to a lesser extent, L. Halteman.)

Ben says his customers have been asking when they'll start to see green things at his stall, which is now stocked with beans, canned goods, preserves and other packaged foods. If the weather cooperates he expects asparagus to show up in about three or four weeks.

Don't curse all that snow we had this winter. Ben says the thick layer of white stuff melted slowly, which was very good in prepping the soil for planting and for those crops already in the ground waiting to spring up with longer days and moderate weather.

Ben's been working in the market since the early 1980s when he helped out a fellow Amishman who operated a produce stand at the market, originally located where the Down Home Diner rules today. With the improvement of the market during convention center construction his predecessor moved to the seating area closest to Arch Street. A few years later he left the market, so Ben established his stall where Moyer's Pork Products of Blooming Glen was ensconced for a few decades. (You can still see the lettering for Moyer's stall at Ben's; we both lament the loss of Moyers and his superior hams, the best either of us have ever tasted.)

Although Ben obtains most of his produce from neighbors, he outs in a few crops himself, including green beans, peas and a few other vegetables.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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080809nickochs.jpgNick Ochs

I had a chance to talk a bit about beef yesterday with Nick Ochs of Harry G. Ochs & Sons (shown here getting into the spirit -- and garb -- during the Pennsylania Dutch Festival at the Reading Terminal Market a few years ago).

The Ochs stall has long been known as a purveyor of prime beef, but given my conversation with Charlie Giunta a few days ago (see my blog post) I wanted to know a bit more about his beef.

Nick said he uses the same suppliers in Lancaster County as his dad Harry did. He exclusively buys USDA prime beef sides, which was a mild surprise to me, since I thought only some of his inventory was prime. The only time he orders choice, he said, is when a customer specifically requests it; an example he gave was someone who wanted ribs with a bit less fat on them.

His suppliers hang the sides he selects for four weeks, which is as long as most butchers and restaurants selling or serving dry aged beef. Even the meat that goes into his ground beef ages that long since it's all coming from the same sides and ground at the store.

A few customers like their beef for steak and roasts aged longer, and Nick obliges. Lynn Abraham, for example, goes for six weeks. He's even had a rare customer (a Manhattanite who forsook Lobel's for Ochs via mail order) who asked for eight weeks. Beyond eight weeks, says Nick, the beef becomes way too livery tasting. Occasionally, when his supply at the store is low, he might pull some sides from his suppliers' aging rooms at three weeks, but that's the exception, not the rule.

All of Nick's beef and poultry comes from Lancaster County. The lamb and pork come from farther afield.

Nick said his sales of prime dry aged beef have held up pretty well, even though they took a dip early in the recent recession. Five or six years ago a lot of market shoppers thought the lack of bright red color like they find in supermarket wet aged beef indicated poor quality. Today more shoppers are aware of prime beef and its characteristics, Nick said.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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The Rittenhouse Farmers' Market, which went year-round this past winter, is attracting more vendors as spring arrives.

Last Saturday the market, operated by Farm To City, boasted four actual producers of produce or dairy products, along with two bakers and a chocolatier. Daryl Rineer had four tables worth of root veggies, storage apples and a few other goodies. Davidson Exotic Mushroom provided fungi. Hail's Dairy brought their cow udder output, in both fresh and cheesy forms, and Linden Dale Farms offered goat cheeses and products. Breads, rolls and pastries were supplied by La Baguette while Amaranth offered its gluten-free equivalents. John + Kira were there with chocolates.

In future weeks before the spring produce arrives (which isn't that far away) you will probably see two more cheese makers. Cherry Grove, from the Lawrenceville NJ area, is renounded for their tomme and other cow milk cheeses. Rabbits Run specializes in aged goat cheese; that's a rarity in these parts, since most goat cheese producers in these parts stick to fresh cheese.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Tom Culton, whose Culton Organics supplies lots of regional chefs as well as shoppers at Headhouse Square and other farmers' markets with produce in season, is ordering more goslings to meet demand for foie gras.

This year marks Culton's first into foie gras production. When he first told me last month he had purchased 300 geese for his humanely raised foie gras his entire production had already been sold out, primarily to restaurateurs. Based on growing interest he'll be adding to his gaggle, therefore, there will be more geese for us to gander for gras.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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The farmers' market at The Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties is going strong, at least to judge by the number of vendors. I counted 23 vendors this morning, though customers were few and far between during the market's opening hour beginning at 10 a.m. One vendor told me his shoppers tended to sleep in and not show up until noontime or soon thereafter.

Whether the vendors keep up their presence when other farmers' markets open and their selling opportunities multiply in May is yet to be seen. But those I spoke with have been happy with sales since the market opened in January

Producers participating today included:

  • Shellbark Hollow goat cheese
  • Highland Orchards, produce
  • Birchrun Hills Farm, cheese and meats
  • Weaver's Way, produce
  • Landisdale Farm, produce (also at Clark Park on Saturday)
  • Whimsical Farm, mushrooms, wool products (will add produce later this season, as well as their beef, pork, poultry and lamb come fall)
  • Culton Organics, produce, including fresh garlic
  • M&B Farview Farm, meats
  • Natural Meadow, meats
  • Hillside Nursery

Plenty of bakers and sweets-makers were there today:

  • La Baguette
  • Big Sky Bakery
  • Market Canele (sharing a stall with Joe's Coffee)
  • Amaranth Bakery (gluten-free)
  • Ian's Baked Goods (sharing stall with Culton)
  • John + Kira Chocolates
  • Wild Flour Bakery
  • My House Cookies

Other vendors:

  • Joe's Coffee
  • Verain-Savon, soaps and body goods
  • Barbie-Lu's Sassy Salsa
  • Penn Herb
  • Just Dogs Gourmet
  • Philadelphia Phaithful Sports Apparel

Produce was primarily root vegetables and storage apples, though some offered greenhouse greens. Culton was selling early spring garlic, dandelions and other greens.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Hey Bob, do any of the vendors at these farmers markets sell ribeye steaks, and if so, have you sampled them?


I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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Hey Bob, do any of the vendors at these farmers markets sell ribeye steaks, and if so, have you sampled them?

I don't recall purchasing rib eye from any of the Headhouse vendors (though I had great veal brisket from Birchrun Hills). I don't think any beef vendors will be there this Sunday, which is the first of the season. Two poultry producers, Griggstown Quail Farm and Mountain View Poultry, are scheduled. Later in the season I would expect to see some beef available. In almost all cases, meats come to market frozen.

Most of the beef you're likely to find a farmers' market will be grass-fed. Quite healthy for you, and can be tasty, but I do prefer corn-finished beef. Livengoods, which I understand will be at the Fairmount Market next Thursday afternoon, and at South & Passyunk beginning the following Tuesday afternoon, does sell some of son Dwain's beef; again, frozen. A beef vendor also shows up at the Piazza at Schmidt's, as do a number of beef vendors at the Saturday Rittenhouse Square market. There should also be some when the Reading Terminal Market begins its Sunday farmers' market in mid-May, but then, you could simply go to the Fair Food Farmstand in the market which offers (mostly) frozen grass-fed beef from a number of area farms, including rib eyes from Natural Acres, Millersburg. (If I'm buying rib eye, however, I'd rather get some four-week dry aged prime beef from Harry Ochs or, if I want to spend a bit less, excellent quality beef -- usually choice, but sometimes prime -- from Charles Giunta.)

Also, do you know of any decent markets in the 'burbs? I'm in Exton, but anything in the general vicinity will do.

As much as I'd like to, I don't get out to the burbs to try the markets too often. Below are links to the schedules of farmers' markets operated by The Food Trust and Farm To City which includes locations and dates/times of all their markets, city and suburban. (Note: Farm to City hasn't put in opening dates for some of their markets yet.)

The Food Trust

Farm to City


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I have gotten rib eyes from one of the vendors at Headhouse. They were frozen in a cooler. Can't remember the name of the vendor. Good steaks but I prefer mine cut thicker.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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The Headhouse Square Farmers' Market begins the new season with its opening tomorrow at 10 a.m. The Fairmount market, also sponsored by The Food Trust, starts its season Tuesday afternoon (3 p.m.) at 22nd and Fairmount. From then, other markets will start their seasons through May and into June.

For full schedules, visit these websites:

All Markets, Farm To City

Philadelphia Markets, The Food Trust

Suburban Markets, The Food Trust

When Headhouse opens tomorrow, one of the new vendors will be Renaissance Sausage. Basically, a lunch truck. They'll be offering Country Herb, Mediterranean, Chicken and Vegetarian sausages.

Here's the expected roster of other vendors:

  • Produce: AT Buzby, Queen's Farm, Three Springs Fruit Farm, Savoie Organics, Weavers Way Farm, Culton Organics, Happy Cat Organics
  • Meats: Griggstown Quail Farm, Mt. View Poultry
  • Dairy: Hillacres Pride, Patches of Star Dairy, Birchrun Hills (Birchrun also offers some meats)
  • Baked goods: Wild Flour, Ric's Breads
  • Flowers, plants: Longview Farm, Young's Garden, Hurley's Nursery
  • Other: John & Kira's Chocolates, Joe Coffee, Busy Bee Farm, Stargazers Vineyard, Talula's Table


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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At today's opening of the Sunday Headhouse Square market the biggest surprise came from A.T. Buzby. Despite my prediction as recently as yesterday that local strawberries had a few more weeks before they made a solid appearance. Buzby had loads of them, grown out-of-doors. The quart I purchased ($5.50) is destined for dessert tonight, but the single berry I tasted -- admittedly, the reddest in the bunch -- was real. Good flavor, and it will require only the smallest boost from some added sugar.

Tom Culton of Culton Organics had a line of fawning purchasers for his pricey produce today. He also flashed a small quantity of morels at me, which he said he should have available next Sunday (figure north of $100/pound, which would make them expensive, even for fresh morels which usually sell for about $65). The ones Tom displayed looked big and clean. Whether I'd pay that much for them is an entirely different matter.

Ringing the opening bell for the 2010 Headhouse Square Farmers Market were Lindsay and Brad Lidge. The Phillies' reliever and his wife have long been active in local charities both here in Philadelphia and, before that, in Houston when pitcher was an Astro. Lindsay, who has a background in nutrition, will be writing healthy eating tips weekly for the Food Trust's web site.

There were plenty of vendors at Headhouse today, though Blooming Glen, which usually anchors the southwest entrance to the Shambles, was missing. Katy Wich, manager of the market, said the farm has skipped opening day in recent years because they just don't have enough to sell so early in the season. Among all the produce vendors at Headhouse, Tom Murtha and Tricia Borneman's Blooming Glen usually has the cornucopiest stall, overflowing with great looking produce, so it's worth the wait.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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When the Fairmount Farmers' Market opens for the 2010 season Thursday afternoon, regulars from past seasons will return.

Leading the way will be Earl Livengood. If we're lucky he'll have his gorgeous lilacs to provide color and aroma, and morels gathered by neighbor Sam Consylman.

Sam Stoltzfus who sells both produce and Amish style baked goods will also be back, as will Bill Well from Orchard Hill Farms in Pennsylvania's Northern Tier, though at this time of year Bill only brings plants for home gardens.

Wild Flour bakery is also expected go be back at the market, which begins its run at 3 p.m. at the corner of Fairmount Avenue and 22nd Street.

Rueben Lapp of Country Meadow Farms will be back with his meats in another two weeks, according to Katy Wich, who manages the market for the Food Trust.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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100506earl1.jpg

Earl Livengood at Fairmount

100506samstolfus.jpg

Sam Stolfus at Fairmount

100506babycollards.jpg

Earl's baby collards

Visits to both the Fairmount and South Street farmers' markets confirm that, indeed, spring has arrived.

Earl Livengood made it to Fairmount last Thursday, along with Sam Stolfus and Wild Flour Bakery. Bill Weller, an orchardist who sells plants for the garden in spring, was scheduled but didn't make it; he's expected this Thursday, however.

Among the although the strawberries weren't Earl's, which are a couple weeks away from harvest, the veggies were. Most unusual were the baby collard greens, which Earl classified as a mistake. Seems Earl didn't get around to pulling out last year's collard stalks and, what with the warm and early sprint, they started putting out new growth. So Earl harvested the young greens and has been selling them both here and, via a farm-to-chef service, to New York City restaurants where they are a big hit.

Sam Stolfus started out selling baked goods at the Fairmount market, but in the last few years he's added more and more produce. He had plenty of early vegetables, but even though I arrived just an hour after the market opened, he had already sold out of beets.

Instead, I picked up some storage beets at today's South & Passyunk market at Livengood's stand there, manned by son Dwain Livengood, friend Sam Consylman (who supplied the beets from his cellar), and farmhand John, recently back from his honeymoon. (It's the first time Ive seen Dwain since late 2008. He and wife Audrey spent all of last year on a Mennonite mission in Honduras, where Audrey taught and Dwain established a vegetable garden for a school.)

Normally this time of year Sam calls me to say he's got some morels. He went looking, but few were to be had. He kept all he gathered (hardly half a pound's worth) for himself.

The only other vendors at South Street yesterday were Big Sky Bakery and Taproot Farm, a new produce vendor from Berks County, who had great looking tat soi greens; I bought baby asian turnips, with greens. They accompanied carbonnade flammande for dinner (turnips roasted, greens nuked) along with steamed baby yukon potatoes from Iovine's at the RTM.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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When the Reading Terminal Market inaugurates its farmers' market this Sunday, some producers new to the city will field stalls.

Although Cherry Grove Farm's cheeses have been available at the RTM's Fair Food Farmstand for a couple of years, the Lawrenceville NJ producer has never sold directly to consumers in the city, to the best of my knowledge. Their cheeses are excellent, but they'll also be selling organic beef, pork, lamb and eggs.

Other vendors in the early lineup (more may be added) include:

  • Steve Bowes Family Farm. Eggs along with vegetables, berries, tree fruit, eggs, cut flowers, seedlings and other plants.
  • Jack’s Farm. Organic vegetables, herbs, cut flowers, seedlings and chicken.
  • Derick's Orchard. Preserves, baked goods, vegetables, berries and, as the season progresses, tree fruit and melons.
  • ShellBark Hollow Farm. A familiar name to city farmers' market shoppers. Goat cheeses, yogurt, and milk.
  • Two Gander Farms. Produce, eggs and honey.
  • John & Kira. Chocolates.
  • Sweet Roses Twisted Lemonade. Herbed lemonade.

The RTM's farmers' market will run Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. directly across 12th Street from the edifice. Working with RTM management in organizing the market has been Farm to City.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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100513peonies.jpg

Flower vendors at local farmers' markets are flush with peonies. Earl Livengood had them Thursday at Fairmount, and Pam and Russell Young at the Saturday Headhouse Square market today.

SWMBO has always told me that ants are essential for the tight peony blooms to blossom. I asked Russell, and he told me that, in this one instance only, I should disregard my spouse. Just cut the at the bottom before placing the stem in a little water in a vase, and they'll open up, though it may take a few days.

In the photo behind the peonies and strawberries are Lauren Swartz, who frequently helps out at the Livengood's stall, and Jon Glyn of the Food Trust.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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The Food Trust's Saturday market at Headhouse Square has always played second fiddle to the Sunday version and today, with only four vendors, was no exception.

As the season progresses, however, expect plenty of additional vendors, says Nicky Uy, who manages the farmers' market program for the Food Trust. Today, however, only one produce vendor (Two Ganders Farm), two flower/plant vendors (one who's still thinking what to name the stand, the other Sunday regulars Pam and Russell Young), and Amaranth gluten-free bakery showed up.

What Headhouse has going for it which the other Saturday market I visited today, Rittenhouse, do not is easy parking for those of us who live a tad too far away to walk or don't want to cope with multiple SEPTA buses.

Headhouse, however, was chock full of vendors this morning, filling up the portion of Rittenhouse Square between 18th and 19th streets. Joanna Pernick, who runs this and other farmers' markets operated by Farm to City, said that as the season brings more produce to market, and hence more farmers, the market will likely "turn the corner" onto 18th street.

I limited myself to a pint of strawberries and bunch of asparagus from Rineers, a regular at this and other city markets, but there were more than a dozen vendors to visit.

Among the vendors I chatted with were two sellers of pig meat: Cherry Grove Farm of Lawrenceville near Princeton and Rabbit's Run of Quakertown in Bucks County. Both farms specialize in cheeses (Cherry Grove from cows, Rabbit's Run from goats), which means they've got a lot of whey left over from their cheese-making. It makes a great, cheap pig feed, so they both raise pigs. Rabbit's Run (which also sells goat meat) uses a commercial mix of pigs (Duroc and Yorkshire among them) while Cherry Grove sells meat cut from Berkshire hogs, a heritage breed admired for its fat and flavor and priced accordingly, i.e., very expensive).

Among the other vendors was Fahnestock Fruit Farm, which brought hothouse tomatoes to market. Fahnestock sells at another Saturday market as well, Clark Park (year round) in West Philly, which is probably the busiest of the Saturday venues.

Other Saturday markets include the Piazza at Schmidt's, Chestnut Hill, and Fitler Square (year round), with more to open later in the season. Suburban markets currently open include Bryn Mawr, Phoenixville and Wrightstown.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Daryl Rineer has cut back a bit on the farmers' markets he serves, but he was at Rittenhouse Square today with strawberries, asparagus, snow peas, lettuces and other produce. I walked away with a pint of snow peas ($3.75), spring mix lettuces ($3.25) and berries ($3.75/pint, two for $7, three for $10).

Rineer's used to be a regular at the Tuesday South Street market, but he's going to the Tuesday Rittenhouse market instead this season. They also have a stall in Chestnut Hill on Saturdays and Suburban Station on Thursdays.

Fahnestock Fruit Farm was also at Rittenhouse today (they also go to Clark Park on Saturdays) with hothouse tomatoes and basil plants. Hilltop Farms was at Rittenhouse today, too, with strawberries for $3.50/pint ($6/quart) and other produce. Another Rittenhouse produce vendor today was Down To Earth Organics with a variety of spring vegetables, mostly greens and green onions.


Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Maybe it was the Memorial Day weekend holiday, maybe it was better opportunities elsewhere, maybe it's just the price of gasoline, but only three produce vendor served customers at the 12th Street farmers' market opposite and sponsored by the Reading Terminal Market.

In addition to the three produce sellers, Shellbark Hollow Farm was there peddling their goat cheeses, Johh + Kira held forth with artisinal chocolates, and Twisted Lemonade was selling, well, lemonade.

A broader range of vendors showed up at Saturday's Rittenhouse Square farmers' market, where I purchased strawberries, sugar snap pea, and summer squash from Rineer Family Farm. The line of vendors was full for the block along the park from 18th to 19th street.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Vendors at city farmers' markets have been hit twice in recent weeks by quick-strike thieves. The thefts took place last Thursday at Fairmount and 22nd Street, and earlier at the Saturday Rittenhouse Square market.

The M.O. is for the thieves to wait until closing time when the vendors have the most cash. As they close they tend to leave their cash boxes unattended in their vehicles: that's when the low-lifes strike.

It's happened at least four other times over the last few years at three different markets.

The vendors have previously been warned about the need for caution in their cash-handling procedures, and those warnings were restated with the recent thefts. Part of the problem, particularly with farmers from rural areas, is that they have to reshift their mind-set to an urban environment.

It appears that the thieves case the markets for likely targets and then strike. One thief grabs the cash, usually out of the vendor's vehicle, then makes an escape in a car driven by an accomplice.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Sugar snaps and various summer squashes were much in evidence at the Headhouse Square Farmers' Market today.

Although leafy greens predominated at most vegetable stalls, Culton Organics featured large, brightly-colored varieties of yellow summer squash along with garlic scapes and a few other items. Blooming Glen's sugar snaps (sampled once I got to the car) were fresh and sweet. Savoie Farms had some new potatoes; in previous weeks they only had seed potatoes from last year. A.T. Buzby displayed excellent-looking medium-sized Kirby cucumbers, crispy-fresh whether eaten as is or pickled; these are the first of this season's Kirby crop I've seen. Buzby was also selling South Jersey hothouse tomatoes.

Buzby didn't have any strawberries, at least when I arrived at 11 a.m. The strawberry season is just about over, but Beechwood Orchard and Three Springs had plenty, Dave Garretson of Beechwood was selling his for $6/quart.

With the warm spring, other summer fruits have already started to appear. Garretson brought a few apricots and raspberries to Headhouse (they quickly disappeared); Dave said he could have picked a few cherries, but decided to pass them by. Expect to see more of the stone fruits as well as raspberries starting this coming week.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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