Ripe From the Farm to You: Eating Local and Eating Fresh

Posted on May 27, 2015

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BY: LILY KATE ANTHONY

The Memphis Farmers Market
When: Saturdays, April through October, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., “rain or shine.”
Where: Central Station (S. Front Street at GE Patterson in the Historic South Main District), Downtown Memphis.

In a covered pavilion just north of the Central Train Station, the Memphis Farmers Market–currently reveling in the budding springtide of its tenth season–greets visitors with a sidewalk sign that reads “Welcome, y’all!”  Folding tables brimming with verdant displays of produce and artisan crafts line the marketplace perimeter, and Memphians within come to exchange pleasantries prompted by the temperate sunshine over cups of coffee and armfuls of lacy spinach leaves.  Indeed, the April weather, releasing a flood of serotonin within the photosynthesizing city, seems to have enlivened Memphis once more; gratitude for the seasonal shift is made evident by the signage throughout the market, where crooked, handwritten letters spell out phrases like “Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘Let’s party!’” and “Spring is here–we’re so excited, we wet our plants!”  The pavilion undulates with contented voices tinged with the slightest of Southern lilts while a man in jeans plays guitar amidst the congregation and a woman in Mardi Gras beads paints faces.

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Housing sixteen vendors each week, the farmers market attracts an eclectic crowd of Arkansans, Mississippians, and Tennesseans committed to the life organic and favoring all things local.  Gleaming jars of preserves from the celebrated Jones Orchard–whose peaches are “fragile, local jewels” and whose strawberries for the picking will soon be ripe–reside a step from a family-operated stall where tomatoes of every variety (Roma, Vintage, Better Boy) soften somewhat in the amiable heat.  A patient-handed woman named Sue arranges yellow wildflowers into pastoral nosegays beside a bouquet of upright baguettes, freshly baked and wrapped in white paper, and volunteers from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis urge passersby to try samples of homemade hummus and black bean salsa.  The individuals both behind and before the numerous tables are passionate–not just about produce, flowers, eggs, baked goods, or even the present weather–but about their city, about a lifestyle both natural and simplistic, and about the market that serves as a community gathering place where all are reminded to be appreciative of Memphis and none are excluded.  Rise early next Saturday morning, pitch yourself into the current of the crowd, and stop for a pastry from Bluff City Bakery (whose homemade pop-tarts are a true delicacy) or a slice of pizza from Rock’n Dough.  You could even have both–no one would mind.ripe 4

To experience other local markets, be sure to check out:

Evergreen Community Farmers Market
When: Thursdays, April through October, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Evergreen Presbyterian Church (613 University St., Memphis, 38107).

Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market
When: Saturdays, year-round, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: First Congregational Church parking lot (1000 Cooper St., Memphis, 38104).

Memphis Botanic Garden Farmers Market
When: Wednesdays, April through October (beginning April 30th), 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Memphis Botanic Garden (750 Cherry Rd., Memphis, 38117)

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Posted in: Lifestyle