With only three more weeks left this season for the farmers’ market the tables are dwindling, the body warmers are coming out, and we’re contemplating buying up a winter’s worth of squashes before it finally closes down.
Back in September Evanston farmers’ market was overflowing (literally, on two rainy weekends) with fruit, vegetables and flowers. Here’s the kind of haul we were bringing home on a Saturday morning back then (not the toaster – we got that at Target):
You can see some of the farmers talking on this video. Most of them come in from Wisconsin, some from Michigan, and apparently it’s been going 35 years. Rather than feeling like a half-arsed yuppie entertainment, which is certainly true of some of the farmers’ markets I’ve been to in Britain, this is a proper bustling market with a lot of produce changing hands at keen prices. Stallholders have to join a waiting list. But this is really an excuse for me to post a lot of colourful photos before autumn turns into winter.
There’s outstanding bread (though we almost made a woman cry by buying the last one of her favourite loaves last week). There’s a mushroom stall where M always acquires something expensive: puffball, chanterelles (really obscure over here) or tasty portabellas. There’s a lot of apple cider (though, American/British vocabulary problem: this turns out not to contain alcohol.) One fruit stall, where the plums, peaches, raspberries and blueberries are particularly juicy and subtle seems to be staffed entirely by cheerful teenage girls. And there are a few things we haven’t tried yet: meat and cheese, including a few elusive free range chickens.
I’ve never seen whole sunflowers for sale the way they are here. Oh, and one thing I forgot to photograph was the guy who plays Beatles hits on his guitar and gathers a crowd of children around him. The stallholders are generally very friendly, happy to throw the odd thing in for free when you buy enough, or if they drop it on the floor. On the downside, they sometimes insist on you tasting their wares, and I was too polite to avoid brushes with celery and raw apple, two of my unfavourites.
The aesthetic appeal is a large part of it: the paper bags of apples, the potatoes of various shapes and colours next to one another, the guy who always lines up his pumpkins in strict size order.
But our favourite, perhaps because they remind us of our friend H, are the gourd swans. Inevitably, we have bought one for our fireplace.