Market-goers like myself cannot help but feel the passion and intense effort farmers bring to the table. The nature of the work, necessary grit, conditions, and the reliance on nature itself–a factor that is anything but predictable– is all-consuming and wildly different from the very protected positions most of us serve each day. Farmers provide for our most basic human need, so how can any of us take that for granted?
This week is National Farmers Market Week–The Farmers Market Coalition‘s effort to bring to light the importance of bringing food directly from the hands of our farmers to those of the consumer. It’s also a week to step back and see just how much of an impact these markets have on the community.
By now it’s obvious that I am very attached to my farmers. Sunday is market day and barring any out-of-town requirements, I do not miss it. I am also rather faithful; I have a chosen farmer for my poultry and eggs, another for red meat, one for greens, and of course a favorite for all my bulk fruit needs.
Last Saturday, I added another market to the mix (Sunday remained sacred.).We were invited to West Chester to see what their growers market had to offer. It is designated a growers market because vendors can only sell what they personally produce. Seeing as though we’ve lived here for seven years now and have not yet made it that far southwest, it was a must.
The bus let us off right in front of the market itself, and by 9:30 am, boy was it buzzing.The West Chester Growers Market hosts every player you could need for a successful market day: flowers, fruits and vegetables, bread, meat, cheese, condiments like hot sauce and maple syrup, and even prepared foods…it’s all there.
We took some time walking booth to booth and gazing at what was on offer. Can July’s bounty be beat? There is Red Earth Farm with it’s overflowing boxes of heirloom tomatoes and Blueberry Hill Farm with it’s iconic berries and gorgeously bright vegetables as well. The classics are covered at Fahnestock’s Farm, and I can’t forget Queen’s Farm, my aforementioned greens farmer who has an unparalleled variety of Asian vegetables. One of my favorites was the stand owned by my name twin Lisa from North Star Orchard. Man, those purple plums to die for! I threw myself into complete fruit-nerd mode as we talked about the countless varieties of apples they have come fall and the apple tasting events they hold on designated weekends–Who want’s to come with me?
The Big Sky Bakery offers such a beautiful spread of pastries and hearty breads, any of which would be happily paired with a fresh cup of coffee brewed from Tally Ho Coffee. Yellow Springs Farm and their beautiful goat cheeses have your dairy needs met, which could (and should) be beautifully combined with the jams at Lizzie’s Kitchen or the honey at Bryer Apiary. Next door is Lindenhof Farm with a variety of type and cut of meat.
It is easy and relatively affordable to assemble a meal here and still deck your table with the flowers at Schaeffer’s.
We picnicked behind the market before heading into town for a bit– what a sweet town! The central streets are lined with a mix of restaurants, vintage shops, and funky odds and ends. We settled in at the Coffee and Ice Cream Bar on Gay Street for a couple of joes, before hopping on the bus home.
Once home it was like Christmas Day! The sweet vendors at the market took care of us, spoiled us even, with a big full of goodies from fruits and vegetables to honey, hot sauce, cookies, and pear butter that is hard to resist opening despite the 10 lbs of peaches sitting in my fridge. We thrived off our bounty for days:
brunch for him
brunch for her
dinner for both
Thank you, thank you, West Chester Growers. You have a very special thing going over there.
places to know:
West Chester Growers Market
Every Saturday: 9AM – 1 PM May through December
1st, 3rd & 5th Saturdays: 10AM – Noon January through April
Corner of North Church and West Chestnut Streets in downtown West Chester, PA
Public transport from Philadelphia to downtown West Chester: SEPTA 104 Bus
West Chester Coffee and Ice Cream Bar
6 E Gay St, West Chester, PA 19380
I was not compensated monetarily for writing this post. I was, however, invited to be part of the market’s Know Your Farmer media event. A special thank you to the lovely vendors at the West Chester Growers Market for providing us with beautiful products from their farms to enjoy. I couldn’t ask for a greater gift.