Open year-round on Saturdays (rain or shine), the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market kicks off its 28th year this Saturday. Originally a tailgate market open in spring and summer, the market eventually expanded into winter hours. With the spring schedule in full-effect, the market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon until late fall.
To kick off the season the market has Chef Jamie Lynch (of 5Church and Top-Chef fame) booked to provide a cooking demo. Chef Lynch will make something decidedly mind-blowing with ingredients sourced at the market prior to his demo. Riley Nelson will provide a musical backdrop of ukulele and guitar throughout the morning. Come with an empty belly and grab an Austro-Hungarian breakfast pretzel from the ever-popular StrudelTieg food truck.
Because everything is grown, raised, or made within 50 miles of Matthews, (the exception is fish, which is caught off the North Carolina coast by the fisherman selling it), you won’t see baskets of bananas or avocados. Everything is in season and fresh from the farm, often harvested a few short hours before you buy it.
It’s a little easier to know what’s in-season if you garden, but for those of you who enjoy eating more than digging, here’s a general idea for spring crops:
Leafy greens including lettuce, spinach, endive, arugula, and mizuna; root vegetables such as beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips; cole crops such as cabbage, broccoli (and broccoli raab), kale, collards, and cauliflower; some peas and beans—think edamame and sugar snaps; leeks, green onions, and fennel also make an appearance; growers with a greenhouse might even have a few tomatoes at their stands.
There will be plenty of free-range chicken eggs, meats (including lamb), as well as cow’s milk and goat’s milk cheeses, and cultured butter. If you’re suffering from the sniffles, put some local honey on your shopping list.
If you’re a gardener, plan out your plots. The market farmers offer plenty of transplants, some Certified Organic, to start your garden, including tomatoes, edible herbs, and soil-building comfrey. Windcrest Farm, one of the first farmers in the area to grow turmeric and ginger, will have “seed” to start your own. Save room in your home garden for a rhizome colony of both Hawaiian Red and Indira Yellow turmeric.
Make sure to budget a little extra for the locally made handmade goods. Have you been admiring the bee sculpture at the Country Place pocket Park? Artist Amy Hart will have her colorful, garden-centric sculptures for sale. Madison Woodworks will have an array of hand-carved spoons and bowls that are functional works of art.
This Saturday, grab your reusable totes, a wallet filled with cash (many vendors accept cards but cash saves them the processing fee), and put on comfy shoes. Even if you’re not shopping, you’re bound to see some familiar faces. The conversation will be good, and the veggies will be even better.