B and SZP are challenging themselves to visit all 31 farmers’ markets of Rockingham, Strafford, and York counties in the 31 days of July, and share their discoveries along the way. Previous entries in this series.
Saturdays bring 12 farmers’ markets to the greater seacoast area, but fortunately there are 5 chances for us to visit them all with a 5 Saturday month this year. We had a great day on July 2nd visiting three amazing farmers’ markets: Portsmouth, York, and Wentworth Greenhouses.
Most Saturdays of the 6 month season we find ourselves shopping at the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market, and with a long shopping list for 4th of July (including Kellie Brook Farm’s fresh chicken and Brookford Farm buttermilk for the best fried chicken ever), July 2 was no exception. It’s incredibly close to where we live, the 8am-1pm hours provide a big window of shopping, its the first market open in the spring and the last to close in the fall that’s this close to our house (Kennebunk also has an incredibly extended season, and more and more markets are opening earlier in the spring and staying open later in the fall – great signs of eating locally year round!). And, with over 40 vendors on an average day, the market provides easy one stop shopping for everything but raw milk and non-USDA processed chicken, which aren’t allowed by the autocratic decision of the Portsmouth Health Inspector.
One of my favorite things about the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market is number of vegetable growers that participate in the market. The variety, quality, and abundance of amazingly fresh and delicious produce is fantastic. Right now the summer squash is just starting, broccoli, new potatoes, garlic scapes, strawberries, early tomatoes, spring turnips, gorgeous heads of lettuce, salad mixes, kale, collards, spring onions, fresh garlic, snow peas, snap peas, shelling peas, early carrots … I think the list is never ending, and the growers at the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market are always pushing themselves to grow a wider variety over a longer season.
Meats, eggs, maple syrup, cut flowers and flowers and veggies for the garden, baked goods and foods ready to eat right there are all well represented. There are also artisan craft booths, as well as guest nonprofit organizations and live music.
The Gateway Farmers’ Market in York is an easy stop off exit 7 of 95, in the parking lot of the York Chamber of Commerce and Stonewall Kitchen. This market has grown wonderfully in the past few years! On July 2, there were 29 different vendors there, and significantly, many more vegetable vendors than in years past. Riverside Farm has joined the market, bringing a great variety and abundance of vegetables. Zach’s Farm has added a lot of earlier season vegetables to their farm and had gorgeous spinach, basil, and many other vegetables. Fresh Start Farm now has so many vegetables they are occupying two booths. All told, the market has about 8 different farms selling vegetables, providing plenty of choice and variety. Wright’s Haven Farm and Archer Angus had meats, there was a seafood vendor, and plenty of prepared foods, breads and baked goods, and crafts.
Gateway Farmers’ Market, York
Saturdays 9-1 & Thursdays 11-2
Sat: June 4 to Oct 8; Thurs: July 7 to Sept 1
York Chambers Visitors Center, Route 1
& Stonewall Lane, exit 7 off I95, York, ME map
more info: www.gatewaytomaine.org
The Wentworth Greenhouses Farmers’ Market is another market that has grown wonderfully. Now in its 3rd year, there were 20 vendors there selling everything from breads to goat cheese, vegetables, eggs, and meats. Because of our connection running the winter farmers’ markets inside Wentworth Greenhouses, we know many of the farmers and it was great to see them and buy their delicious products in the summer.
Via Lactea Farm’s goat cheeses, from feta to soft cheeses with delicious bloomy rinds, continually wow me. I had a hard time not buying one of each. Anderson’s Mini-Maples and The Root Sellar had maple syrup and other maple products, including big bags of maple sugar from The Root Sellar. Hackleboro Orchards had great big bottles of honey as well as delicious fresh strawberries. Forty Five Market Street Bakery had their amazing breads made with locally grown herbs and vegetables, and Borealis Bread had their full line up, including the Aroostook Wheat made with Maine grown wheat. There were quite a few vegetable growers there, including Hollister Family Farm and Moondance Gardens with the most beautiful heads of lettuce alongside many other beautiful vegetables. Lasting Legacy Farm and Hayward Natural Farms had eggs, poultry, beef, and pork and the Pawtuckaway Mushroom Company was there with their fresh oyster mushrooms. There were prepared foods and crafts alongside live music.
Farmers’ Market Count: 5 down, 26 to go!