First published in Franklin Journal
On a recent Friday, I schlepped my way to the Farmington Farmer’s Market. It’s smallish, but for what it lacks in size, it makes up in personality. As markets go, personality is a plus. This one is situated on a patch of lusciously, green grass, between the new home of Thai Smile and Franklin Savings Bank. Parking is a little tricky, but available.
This chilly, damp Friday morning had sparse attendance. Summer residents have left and kids have headed off to school; some reasons, I suspect, for the lighter attendance. I was happy to have time with food purveyors and shoppers, without feeling as though I was blocking access to vendor’s products. By the way, my allegiance is to my reader. I pay for my selections, and don’t ask for special favors or get paid in return for mentions. You can trust my review and I am free to lavish praise when warranted, or be honest about disappointments. I’m rarely disappointed.
A friendly greeting from Sara Wilk of King and I Angus begins my excursion. Her selection of English muffins and shortbread cookies are wonderful and I’ve never been disappointed with my beef purchases. When I stopped, a woman came up and Sara made introductions. The woman said she loves my name. It was her mother’s name. As she spoke of the “Ruby” tarts Sara sells, as reminding her of her mother’s, I began to realize I had known her mother. I was saddened to hear of her passing. From there, the talk turned to caregiving and she shared her husband had passed away, leaving she and her young daughter behind. Her daughter was at the same age I was when my father passed. I shared my experience of being a grieving offspring. The world is rich with commonalities and opportunities to connect and support each other. I finished making my purchases and moved on. On the way back, I chatted with Sara about human trafficking. She shared a story about a young girl she had met traveling, and thought the girl was being trafficked. What should she have done?
Next I stopped at Town Line Family Farm, owned by Irene and Mark Bouchard. They sell vegetables and baked goods.
I recommend arriving early if you want a pie, because otherwise, you may be out of luck. The buttery, flaky crusts and fillings with just the right sweetness are that good! Mark said orders for baked goods can be called ahead. Good to know. Thanksgiving is right around the corner! One week I was in need of some cucumbers. I don’t like them so big they are “seedy”, not so matured they are past green and on to yellow. He introduced me to a drought resistant variety. I can’t remember the breed’s name, but ask for the ones that were bred on a kibbutz and withstand drought. They have a dark skin that is very tender and takes to salads really well. Mark’s father-in-law is usually nearby as his wingman, filling me in on what’s new and why this particular day there were no pies. Irene is the baker and apparently, the night before there was a soccer game. As she is a fan of soccer and her kids, attending the game precluded baking. That just makes me love this farm all the more. Clearly, they have the right priorities. For pie, I can wait another week.
A surprise find was family owned, Cantrell’s Seafood from Brunswick, Maine. Their selections are “New England/Canada” local. The smoked salmon I purchased was the best I have ever eaten. I later learned it is crafted by the daughter of a longtime, college friend. What a small world.
The clams I steamed in Ginger Libation were tantalizingly sweet. I have yet, to try the haddock, but I’m sure I’ll be equally satisfied. We discussed the process of shucking oysters, people littering on hikes, and the tenacity of Stonington fishermen. It was a fun exchange.
(Photo Credit: Ginger Libation – Greenfield, MA)
I was disappointed flowers showed up too late for me to buy, but hey, it happens. That’s another charm of the market. Farmers work hard and long hours. Foods and flowers are ready when they’re ready.
I know some folks get cranky when the options they see at the farmer’s market aren’t to their specifications, but if I don’t like the selection, I talk with the vendor or try another. Always, though, I try to keep an open mind; finding perfection in the imperfect.