The wait is over: The farmers market is back

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 27, 2015

By Mark Wineka

SALISBURY — For many people, everything is right with the world again, because the Salisbury-Rowan Farmers Market is back for another season.

It was as though customers emerged from hibernation Saturday morning for the market’s 2015 debut. Now they can return to doing a large part of their week’s shopping from local vendors they love to support.

“All winter,” Emerald Pickett said of how long her family has waited. “This is our Saturday event. … We’ll be here every weekend for the duration of the season.”

The Picketts braved some rain on the first Saturday of the market, located again at the corner of West Fisher and South Jackson streets in the parking lot of the former Wrenn House restaurant. They went home with some Swiss chard, green onions, Lee Ly’s fresh-cut flowers, free-range eggs, lettuce and doughnuts.

It’s not known whether the doughnuts survived the trip home.

The farmers market will be open from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays and from 8 a.m.-noon and 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays. Check the market’s website for more information.

“We believe very strongly in supporting local agriculture,” Pickett said. “You eat what’s in season and adjust to what’s in the market. It forces us to be very creative in the kitchen.”

If the folks at Eagle & Son Produce heard the question once Saturday, they heard it 100 times: “When will you have strawberries?”

The answer looks to be about two weeks. It’s been a wet spring, and the local strawberries could stand “one good week of sunshine,” said Sue Eagle, the unofficial “brains” of the outfit.

“They’re going to be ripe soon,” she promised.

Capri Brixey and Karen Martinez were shopping together Saturday, and their bags  — especially Brixey’s  — included lots of greens, eggs, hothouse tomatoes, sausage links, onions, collards, pound cake, doughnuts and cut flowers.

“A little bit of everything,” Brixey said.

While the market was hibernating over recent months, Brixey said she depended on the Winter Harvest delivery program for many of the fresh, organic foods her family relies on. There was a two-week gap between the time Winter Harvest ended and the Salisbury-Rowan Farmers Market opened again that proved to be excruciating, she said.

“We could not wait” for Saturday’s opening, she added.

Will and Amy Goodnight and their son, Wyatt, scored big at the market, taking home among other items eggs, sausage, greens and basil (for planting). They picked up bread and strawberry rhubarb pie from the Salisbury Bread Basket.

“We have been looking forward to this day all winter,” Amy Goodnight said of the market’s return.

If you want doughnuts from the Bread Basket, you have to get to the market pretty early.

“I usually do lemonade and doughnuts, and the kids all come,” the Bread Basket’s Emma Martin said.

With her baked goods, Martin is now a 10-year veteran of the farmers market.

“We’re excited to have it open,” she said from her familiar spot near the old restaurant building. She was close to OBX Seafood, whose offerings included oysters and soft-shell crabs.

Andy and Megan Bame, local meat producers who are at the Salisbury-Rowan Farmers Market for the first time, specialize in grass-fed beef and pastured pork.

“This is our hometown market,” Megan Bame said. “It’s a good opportunity.”

The Bames have a small farm off Patterson Road near Millbridge.

They often offer a weekly special featuring three different cuts of meat for $20 to $25. Saturday, the $20 special included stew beef, sirloin and Italian sausage. Megan Bame described the weekly specials as a good introduction of their products for those who might sometimes be intimidated by the market-buying experience.

With the special, a family automatically has three meals for three different days, she noted. The Bames also offer $50 sampler packages, or customers can buy their wide selection of meats by the cut.

As with several of the vendors and their customers at the market, the Bames have been participants in the local Bread Riot since its beginning. (This year’s Bread Riot will be held May 17.)

Despite the rain Saturday, vendors welcomed a hardy crowd, many of whom have become familiar faces over the years. As the springs progresses, look for more of everything.

Including strawberries.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.