It is (sigh) September Fall is almost here in upstate New York. Thursday morning it was 47 degrees.
(And, speaking of blue moons, I hope to bring you some pictures of last night's blue moon in a couple of days).
We have some of our nicest weather in September (usually). Crisp, blue skies. Low humidity.
The farmers markets are at peak. Summer produce such as tomatoes, summer squash, green/yellow/purple beans and Butter and Sugar corn share space with potatoes, cabbages (huge this year!), Paula Red, Honey Crisp, Macoun, and Ginger Gold apples and....
I was surprised to see white sweet potatoes - not at a farmers market but at a local stand run by a Pennsylvania farm, Russell Farms, which is about 20 minutes from Johnson City, New York not far from the PA side of the NY/PA border. Sweet potatoes are not a specialty of this area. Our season tends to be a little short for them. We've tried to grow them several times in our community garden, never successfully.
Although I prefer farmers markets, once in a blue moon (no, I admit a little more than that) I do my shopping at Russell's Vestal, NY farm stand. The hours are better, for one. With that, I need to talk a little bit about the difference between a farmers's market and a farm stand.
Farmers' markets, ideally, sell produce sold by local farmers. But here is a dirty little secret, as much as I love and support farmers' markets. Not all the vendors do that. It depends somewhat on the people who organize the farmers market.
When you see an upstate NY farmers market vendor selling (for example) tomatoes in May, you should question exactly where it came from. It might be from a local greenhouse. Or it might be from a commercial source from hundreds of miles away.
A farm stand can be either run by a local farm, with their produce and produce of others, or it could be someone selling produce from the same "open market" sources as the local supermarket uses.
To make it even more complicated, some of our local supermarket chains (Wegmans, for example) try to sell local produce when possible.
So, as always, the buyer must beware.
But don't let that scare you away from farmers markets. Local farmers deserve your support. So does your local farmers market. And not just once in a blue moon.