Summer might seem like the best time to hit a farmers market, but the tomatoes covering my mothers back porch tell the tale. Heading into fall, now is when you really want to take advantage of those bumper crops.
In Philipsburg, that means Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the boroughs municipal parking lot on Presqueisle Street across from County National Bank. Local growers such as Dale Bonner and Jim Varner, organic producers such as Tyrones Eden View Organics, wineries such as Clearfields Bee Kind and more could pull up a table and offer their wares. You never know just whose booth you might encounter on any given weekend.
The difference between a grocery store and a farmers market is more than just the produce. Sure, youre not going to get out-of- season asparagus from someone who is picking things himself, and youre not likely to find bananas and pineapples at a Pennsylvania market. But more important are the people.
Bonner, for example, is more than happy to steer you away from something he doesnt think is up to snuff. More than once, hes changed the price on me if he thought my cucumbers were a little on the small side, something I dont expect from a big-box purveyor. Likewise, Varner has kept me in the best possible squash for years.
A farmers market is also where you find the most amazing things you wouldnt know existed otherwise. Bonner lets my son sample a new fruit every Saturday, expanding his horizons beyond his favorite strawberries to embrace golden plums, huckleberries and pears of all kinds.
The sweet Amish lady who appropriates the Presqueisle Street corner of the lot introduced me to hot pepper butter, a heavenly concoction of chilies cooked down with sugar, vinegar and mustard into the best dip/ spread/stuff-you-want-to-eat-with-a- spoon Ive ever had, plus she has every kind of whoopie pie you can imagine.
Stop by this weekend. You wont be sorry but save me a zucchini.
Lori Falce writes weekly about the Rush Township/Philipsburg area. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.