Wet. Cold. Abundant. Lexington Farmers Market in Winter.
Saturday, November 15, 2008: So chilly and wet and windy one wonders why any growers would show up at the Lexington Farmers Market. Yet several had promised they would be there, so I went, too. Every Saturday I get to sleep in much later than the farmers, and I can always leave if I get too cold or too wet, so for me the Market in bad weather is an adventure. I doubt the growers feel that way. They get up early (I've heard 2:00 AM mentioned more than once) and stay through wind, cold, and rain. Most amazing of all to me - they smile and offer a lot of welcome cheer as they serve us, even when we are cold and grumpy.
Here's a little photo-report on some of what I found this week, late in Kentucky's growing season. After a stop for Hubbard Squash, watermelon radishes, turnips, sweet potatoes, and fresh lettuces at Elmwood Stock Farm, I moved west along Vine Street to the appetizer and dessert courses -- all under one tent.
Susan Miller, on the left in these photos, has delighted hundreds of customers this year by becoming the first local goat cheese producer to sell at Lexington Farmers Market. Her Bleugrass Chevre will be available all winter, thanks to smartly timed breeding, Susan says. She will move indoors to Victorian Square on Saturdays throughout the winter. W&M Market also sells Bleugrass Chevre, and they are open every day.
Elaine Shay, right, must represent the absolutely newest producer at the Lexington Farmers Market. Late this fall Elaine and co-owner Marianne Swintosky began bringing Viburnum Valley Farm Confections to the Market on Saturdays. Some of the confections -- either pastries or luscious truffles built from Jamieson's Chocolates -- include Bleugrass Chevre. Every bite is delicious, even including a sample of one of my least favorite desserts of all time, carrot cake. Of course in this case the carrot cake was lighter than eiderdown, with "orange-infused..." something that sounded so over the top I missed it. Like Bleugrass Chevre, Viburnum Valley Farm Confections will move into Victorian Square for Saturday markets during the winter, planning to be there weekly until the Market moves back outdoors in the spring of 2009.
Lexington Farmers Market's much appreciated manager Jeff Dabbelt famously wears shorts most cold, wet days -- but Saturday even he covered up. Jeff does the work of producing the Market's weekly newsletter, which I read to get news about what (and whom) to expect at the Market each week.
If you want to know what day, exactly, the Market will move indoors to Vic Square, or when the next farm tour may happen, go to the Lexington Farmers Market website and sign up for the weekly newsletter by email. Look in the left column for the sign-up box.
I didn't ask, but I think Jeff is drinking a cup of CaffeMarco locally roasted coffee, about which a bit more later.
I enjoyed watching the growers buying each other's products. In the photo at right, Meadowbloom Farm's Sandy Canon and Elmwood Stock Farm's Mac Stone stock up on Bleugrass Chevre. The chevre comes with "add-ins," by the way. Most weeks Susan brings cups of soft white spreadable cheese laced with dark green bits of chives. Sometimes she brings chipotle, boasting a flavor that is not too hot and a tempting pale pink-orange hue. Both are heavenly on a cracker, toasted homemade bread, or (a new discovery) toasted split cornbread.
CaffeMarco faithfully bringing freshly brewed coffee made from freshly roasted beans to the Market each week. Here CaffeeMarco uses a construction "artifact" to help growers and customers stay warm and awake.
Late this year I have discovered the deliciously sweet broccoli and the small, intensely dark red beets grown at Silas Farms & Greenhouse in Bourbon County. The growers tell me they get praise in spring for the sweetness of their asparagus, too. The final photograph shows both how bundled up all the marketeers were on Saturday and how much food Silas Farms and others still brought to Market.
We are fortunate people here in central Kentucky, and Saturday's cold, rainy, windy Market underscored our good fortune.