Farmers Markets whet my appetite for garden vegetables and childhood memories. As a child I would sneak into my mother’s garden with my sister and pilfer fresh peas from their pods. We would sit hunched in the garden, snapping the pods from the stem with one hand and unzipping them with the other. The peas would spill onto our tongues like balls down the drain of a pinball machine.
Our next door neighbor had a strawberry garden with rows so long you had to turn your head to take it all in. At harvest time, they always shared some with us. Seeing that bowl of strawberries approach from across the road set my mouth to salivating at first sight.
On Saturday mornings in Driftless Wisconsin, the best treats still travel the shortest distance. Produce appearing at your favorite market is fresh from that short jaunt across the road from a local farmer, not “bleary-eyed” from a thousand-mile trek on interstate highways from processing plants in the big city. Just try to look fresh after a thousand-mile bus ride.
They say the sun brings out the best in the garden, but by my reckoning, it’s the other way around. On this rainy Saturday morning in June, a mixture of fresh food and smiley-eyed people has brought out the sun, arriving just in time for the music. Dan Harwood strums his guitar and plays the crowd and all is right with the world.
Including the world of farmers. You see, farmers bring more than product to market. They bring with them their pride and love of good food. The pride shows up on their faces. The love oozes from every bite of their offerings.
A blueberry turnover from the Local Oven satiates my appetite, while a strawberry smoothie conjures up memories of that bowl walking across the street. Jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam sit in rows, teasing passersby. Fresh garlic, beets, and onions sit in baskets waiting for a dinner date. I take home a couple of grass-fed tenderloins for a date with my wife.
Farmers Markets can be enjoyed all across Driftless Wisconsin, including the Viroqua Farmers Market in downtown Viroqua, the Prairie Street Farmers Market in downtown Prairie du Chien, Market in the Park at Sugar Creek Park in Ferryville, all on Saturdays; and the Gays Mills Farmers Market on Wednesdays.
Best of all, Farmers Markets transport you back to times when fresh food was the norm; whether hunched down on your knees in your mother’s garden, or eyeing that row of strawberries across the street.