Tomatoes have been available for the last few weeks at the Fayette County Farmers’ Market. The anticipation is palpable, and vendors have even sold out of their supplies of red, yellow and green tomatoes.
One thing you may notice (and vendors will readily tell you) is that these early tomatoes are green house grown. The green house, complete with irrigation (mechanical or manual) offers vegetables much earlier in the season than they would be otherwise. And farmers know that tomatoes are so welcomed by customers, that growing them in the green house can be both successful and profitable.
Seed catalogues, especially those that cater to farmers and farm market vendors, now offer seed which have been developed for production in green houses. In addition to early production, the fruits of these plants are often symmetrical and blemish free. The specially adapted variety of seed as well as the growing conditions of the green house create this “pretty” fruit.
Produce grown outdoors in the open is more susceptible to critters, from the tiny mouse or vole, to the numerous squirrel and rabbit, to the larger coon, possum and deer. And these are just the “wild” animals. Most of us have some experience with the damage our domestic canine and feline friends can wreak on the garden.
The green house provides protection against those critters and offers a more consistent “weather” environment; there is protection from hail and high wind, and some are equipped with shade cover for extremely sunny days, or heat or light or fans for other conditions. As we experience more unpredictable and severe weather due to climate change, the green house can provide some level of buffer and predictability.
Soon after these green house grown tomatoes will come those grown outdoors, and this includes those at the farm market as well as those you grow in your own yard or pot or garden. They will be different. They may have cracks or slight bruising or blemishes. You may notice some bottom end rot on the first fruit of the season, and decide to cut it off and eat the rest of the tomato because this is the tomato for which you’ve been waiting.
The second and third, or first full bunch of cherry tomatoes will remind you of the good things that come with extremely hot weather and mosquitoes…..you will bite down and juice will squirt, and you will taste sunshine, rain, minerals and acids from the soil. You won’t care if the tomato has any nutritional qualities (although of course it does). You eat it warm with sunshine because this is what you’ve been thinking about since last September, every time you looked at a tomato on a market shelf.
The Market is open Saturday morning from 8:30 to noon and is located in the municipal parking lot on the corner of South Main and East East streets in Washington C.H. SNAP EBT food benefit cards, Senior Farm Market coupons and credit/debit cards are accepted. Those using the SNAP EBT card for produce receive matching dollar “Produce Perks” tokens ($1 for $1) for additional fruits and vegetables. So,”buy one, get one” for fruit and vegetables, up to $20 EVERY market day. All first responders (police, EMTs and firefighters), teachers, medical providers and Farm Bureau members may pick up $5 coupons during the first two market weeks of each month. These coupons may be used to make farm market purchases anytime during the season.
The following list contains the names and products of the vendors that expect to set up for the Saturday Market. Other vendors may participate as well.
B.Y.E. Gardens (Brian and Elaine Yoder): sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, candy onions, melons, sunflowers and assorted baked goods.
Chilcote Farm (Bruce & Marlene Chilcote): Spring honey, cookies, brown sugar sheet cake, peach coffee cake, lemon loaf, brownies, butter pecan cake, and hickory nut cake.
Engedi (Beth Day, Alana Walters, Janet Bick): Assorted home baked goods (cinnamon rolls, bread, yeast rolls, cookies, pies, brownies, cobblers, whoopie pies, small specialty bread) and a special children’s activity.
Jones Farm Fresh Produce (Jon & Taylor Jones): Sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, onions, squash, garlic, pork chops, sauna sage patties, bulk sausage, maple links, sweet Italian and jalapeño brats, ground pork, chicken breast, wings, chorizo brats, hamburger patties, ground hamburger and brown eggs.
King Farms (Jeff & Sandi King): Green beans, potatoes, beets, squash, zucchini, new potatoes, peppers and baked goods.
Nidays Microgreens (Victor Niday): Micro-greens of basic salad mix, broccoli and kalrabi.
Persinger Cottage Foods (David Persinger and Julie Mosny): The Jam Man will have jams, jellies, peach butter and Texas sheet cakes. The Pie Lady will have local honey and pies: blackberry, cherry, black raspberry, blueberry, peach, apple; also cinni mini’s, oatmeal raison cookies, zucchini bread.
Wood Designed by DW (Debbie Welch): Wood crafts: decorative bird houses, wooden totes, patriotic & wooden Ohio signs, pigs, cows, chickens. Hand made crocheted dishtowels, clothes, potholders, pocket books and baby booties. Special orders welcome.
Katrina Bush is a vendor at the Fayette County Farmers’ Market.