As planned, we woke up at 6:30 to make it to the Farmer’s Market by 7am this morning. I was ready to buy another watermelon from pesticide-free PPP Farms for this Spinach Watermelon Salad recipe I found in a calorie counter app. (Who knew?) And, as promised, I planned to ask many more vendors if they were pesticide free.
I did not get off to such a great start. As we strolled through the crowd I made my way to booth after booth asking, “Excuse me, but do you use pesticides in your farming?” The answers varied. But one answer in particular turned into a growling volley of attitude.
“NO! We don’t have no pesticides here!” and she waved her hand in the air, half as a dismissal, half as a fly swat.
“Um…okay. Thank you.”
I wasn’t sure if she was adamant because of her commitment to be pesticide free, or if she was annoyed by my question. And then she rallied, eying my children standing behind me. “WHY?!!!!!”
I pointed to said children. “I am committed to buying only produce that is grown without the use of harmful pesticides.”
She pointed at her buckets of produce and rudely asked, “You gonna buy anything?!!! We don’t HAVE no pesticides!”
“I’m actually asking everybody so that I can plan which vendors I will shop with for the weeks that the Market is here. Thank you.”
At that she WAVED ME OFF, SCOWLED AND SHOOK HER HEAD!!!!!!!
As we walked away Dom whispered to me, “I didn’t think that was going to go well. I wouldn’t have even asked her.”
“I know. I had the same thought. But I decided not to judge, and I asked anyway. Her attitude is NOT the spirit of the Farmers’ Market. Half the vendors here are all selling tomatoes. It goes against the spirit of the place to get pissy because a customer is looking at your tomatoes and not buying them! I wouldn’t buy from her if her farm WAS organic, which I highly suspect it’s NOT.” (See? I reserved judgement until the end.)
We moved on and made the rounds to several other vendors, all of whom graciously answered my questions with more than just a simple yes or no. They all explained in some small way additional details that supported their answer. I like that. So for you locals, here’s a run-down of what I learned (in this much-smaller-than-opening-weekend Market).
Gator Dave Produce: Pesticide-free, but uses commercial fertilizer. He will be switching to horse manure next year at his wife’s insistence. His okra is not doing as well as he’d like, but he is focusing on how to keep the deer out of his area when the peas start producing. I bought cucumbers from him, and he shared his grandma’s secret: when you cut the end off of a cucumber, about the first ½ to ¾ inch, rub the pieces together until it sort of foams. His grandma always said that would take most of the bitterness out of a cucumber before you slice it up. Hey, worth a try, right?
McKissick Herbal Farm: Pesticide-free. Tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, blueberries, cantaloupe, and more. I bought tomatoes and cantaloupe from them.
Anderson Produce and Plant Farm: They occupied the largest space, and had A LINE of people that flowed past three other vendors FOR THEIR CORN!! We were there at 7:10, people, and by 7:30 the corn was GONE from Anderson’s. That must be some gooooooood corn!! I did get a chance to speak with them, and learned that they are not pesticide-free, but that they are regulated each year by the state for certification that there is no residue on their produce. Residue is not my issue, really, so that leaves more corn for the rest of the people. But they were incredibly courteous, and like I said, extremely popular for their corn. They sell plants too.
So there it is, folks. My wrap-up of the Farmer’s Market. Who wants some watermelon? 🙂