Pick produce at its peak

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 3, 2009

By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Salisbury Post
The Farmers Market in downtown Salisbury is now at its peak with locally grown produce, flowers and baked goods. There are two large green shade canopies on the corner of Bank and Main streets that easily identify the market area.
July 4th is generally the time when many fruits and vegetables are at their peak. Sweet corn, tomatoes, squash, onions, cantaloupes, peppers, potatoes and peas are just a few produce items available at the market. It’s important to visit the market often because the availability of fresh produce will vary as the season progresses. The market also features local meats, eggs and baked goods. Cut flowers, bedding plants and other plant materials are also available.
Below are a few shopping tips for those who would like to visit the market:
– Come to the market early. You’ll find the best selection if you arrive early. Many vendors are completely sold out by 11 a.m.
– Take your time. Have fun browsing. It’s usually a good idea to peruse the entire market first, taking time to taste or compare the offerings of different vendors. Once you’ve determined which vendors have the best produce, go back and make your purchases.
– Bring coolers. If you’re not planning to go straight home with your produce, you may want to have coolers with ice packs in your vehicle to keep it fresh and at its peak.
– Bring your own containers. Most farmers’ market vendors have plastic bags, but it’s easiest if you bring your own reusable bags with handles or containers for cut flowers.
– Talk to the vendors: Many farmers love to share their knowledge about their crops. Most can even give you recipes and cooking tips. It’s good to establish a relationship with growers. Seasoned shoppers always have their favorite producers.
– Don’t buy too much. It’s easy to do, but the main objective is to have a steady supply of fresh produce. Produce sitting in your refrigerator all week defeats the purpose of fresh fruit and vegetables.
– Bring cash to the market. Even though many vendors accept checks, cash is still the easiest currency. However, vendors now accept WIC and senior vouchers at the farmers market. You’ll see the large WIC and senior posters displayed at participating vendors’ produce stands.
Information about produce and other items at the Salisbury Farmers Market can be found at the Web site, www.salisburyrowanfarmersmarket.com at “What’s at the Market This Week!” Master Gardeners Sue Davis and Katherine Jones post an update at this site and the Salisbury Post each Wednesday.
Darrell Blackwelder is an agricultural agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at 704-216-8970.