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Farmer’s market time!!!!

August 6, 2010

I was *so* impatient for the farmer’s market to start up here in Scottsbluff.

I’m used to the markets starting up Mother’s Day weekend, so I can get rhubarb and spring greens and strawberries and plants. Here, with the altitude, I guess things get growing a little later. The Scottsbluff market started just two weekends ago (and I missed the first weekend!)

I was a little uncertain about the market. I heard some rumors that it was tiny and hardly worth attending. Well, I am here to say WRONG-O, man! The market was pretty darned awesome, IMHO. (It was better than what I remember of the Ames, Iowa, farmers market, which — word of caution to the markets here — was split into two competing factions by some disagreements over rules.)

I wandered around the Scottsbluff market (held at Broadway and 18th, in the little park/parking lot/blocked-off 18th street from 7 a.m. to noonish or whenever the vendors sell out and pack up) for over an hour, and saw about 2 dozen vendors come and go. Maybe that’s part of where the “it’s tiny” opinion came from: not all the vendors were there at once. Some vendors traveled a ways to get there and arrived late. Some vendors sold out and packed up early. That turnover can have a benefit: the earlybird shoppers get the best of the selection from the earliest vendors, but those who come later can still catch some stuff the early-risers missed.

The Scottsbluff market is also a relatively young one, if I understand things correctly. Here’s hoping it will continue to thrive and grow!

Here were the items I purchased last weekend (I forgot to include some broccoli in the picture):

Two kinds of bread, peaches, zucchini, sweet corn, green beans, spaghetti squash, salsa, goat milk feta, jam, soap, forage-fed ground beef, cinnamon rolls that about made my toes curl with delight

Other stuff available that I didn’t purchase that day: potato, onion, honey, chicken (Open A Bar 2 Ranch was sold out), dill, eggs, tiny little plums, beets, tomato, cabbage, peppers, garlic, tree-branch furniture, enchiladas, gourds, jewelry, rabbits, tons more preserves and baked goods.

My one disappointment was that I didn’t find any basil. I *LOVE* fresh basil. I should have planted my own. (But I’d probably have to fight the grasshoppers for it this year anyway.)

Happy day: a friend with basil in her garden heard my plea, and I met her at the market and traded her some of the roma tomatoes from my garden.

Here was my dinner last Saturday night: basil from the friend’s garden, tomato from mine, bread and cheese from the market.

The wine, unfortunately, was from Minnesota, via the grocery store. I’ve been at farmer’s markets before where wine is sold. I wonder if Nebraska law would permit Prairie Vine to sell at the market (if they were interested)?

Other things that could make the market more fun: a coffee vendor (so we caffeine addicts can get our fix along with baked market delectables), a shaded seating area for consuming said coffee and pastries (the park’s picnic area was taken up by a vendor last week), and maybe some buskers to provide a little background music.

The main thing I love about farmer’s markets is that they prompt me to eat more fruits and vegetables. I can’t resist the beautiful, colorful produce and the surprises and personal connection to the growers that are missing at the supermarket, so I wind up buying (and eating) a larger variety of fresh foods than I otherwise would.

My meal Sunday night included zuchinni patties. Monday night: grilled hamburgers and corn. The peaches and bread didn’t last long. Subsequent evening meals incorporated the beans and broccoli.

I also love the idea of supporting local family businesses that keep money in the area. Talk to some of the vendors, and you’ll find that many of them are three-generation efforts: grandparents, parents, and children working side-by-side. At least one stand was selling for the benefit of a family college fund.

Many of the vendors were from the Panhandle: Scottsbluff, Gering, Melbeta, Lyman, Harrisburg, Mitchell. There were also a few vendors from out of town: Lusk, Wyoming, and Frederick, Colorado — still in the region, in my opinion. (Interestingly, some of our Nebraska farmers are selling at out-of-state markets. One grower I talked to is a regular at the Casper, Wyoming, market.)

If you can’t make the Saturday a.m. Scottsbluff market, or if you just want more market action, Gering has a market, Thursday evening 5-6:30 p.m. in front of the Armory. There’s also a lovely market in Morrill Tuesday 3-6 p.m. in a field on the south side of the highway across from the Subway.

Some vendors plied multiple markets, but most of the vendors were different, as were some of the items. There was okra at the Morrill market and chokecherries at the Gering market, and I didn’t see either of those items at Scottsbluff last week.

Check out a list of area markets here:

Happy shopping!

Copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Kris Tuttle permalink
    August 6, 2010 12:39 pm

    We have a little farmer’s market in Ogallala. Sometimes there is a gal there that sell breakfast burritos that are wonderful!

    • Katie Bradshaw permalink
      August 6, 2010 8:42 pm

      Oh, rats! Wish I’d known about it earlier. I wrote an article for the paper on farmer’s markets and could have included the Ogallala one, too.

  2. August 6, 2010 3:57 pm

    I agree with you Katie, and espresso cart along with baked market delectables would be perfect!! Not only for the customers but for the vendors as well.

  3. August 6, 2010 7:48 pm

    Love fresh organic fruits and veggies! Yum!

  4. August 6, 2010 11:42 pm

    Hey,come on, you are making me hungry. Great Photos.
    Check out the Limon Farmer’s Market. 5 Highways with over 36000 thousand count from three exits. Twelve thousand on 24/Main Street. Give us a call 719-821-4087
    We need Honey -n- Corn.

    • Katie Bradshaw permalink
      August 7, 2010 6:57 am

      I just Googled Limon to find out where you were. I bet if some area vendors drive to Casper, they probably wouldn’t mind driving to Limon. When is the market held?


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