We made it to August! To me August always signals fall and the end of the season. Yes it is still hot and sometimes it is a very wet month with thunderstorms but the lushness of early summer is gone and the farm begins to look tired after months of full production. The tomatoes have given us their best and Betsy is into the third planting of zinnias as the first two look shabby as the diseases and insects gain the upper hand. Even the weeds begin to mark the end of their run with big old seed heads and yellowing leaves, if we have let them get to that stage. After 20 straight weeks at market, we are feeling shabby too so it is time for the summer break. We will be at the markets this week and then will miss the markets on the 8th and 11th. No newsletter either as we will be hiding somewhere cool with minimal human contact! I know many of you will be taking a last bit of time off too before school and other fall things start the end of the month.
I have been thinking a lot this week about last Wednesdays radio show “The State of Things” on WUNC. If you heard it you know they came to the market and recorded a piece on the Tomato Tasting event that the market held on the 21st of July. It was a fairly interesting piece and they did a pretty good job of getting the feel of what the Tomato Tasting is like but there was one thing that got many of us market members hackles up and that was the comments about how food at Farmers’ Markets is expensive. Excuse me, but IT’S NOT! It used to be that prices at markets were ridiculously cheap and as I speak around the country to farmers I always say “Who ever started the concept that Farmers’ Markets are the place to buy cheap produce I want to grab them by the neck!” Why would fresher, better tasting food, grown in better way, many varieties which you can’t find anywhere else be priced low? Now the misunderstanding has swung the other way and I hear these “experts” say shopping at Farmers’ Market is expensive. I want to grab them by the neck too. Now I know there are exceptions to everything and some markets around the country are more expensive but by and large they are retail affairs with prices generally the same or cheaper than the grocery store. I know for us at Peregrine Farm our vegetable prices are right in line with the local groceries because I check on a weekly basis. The cheapest red tomato at Food Lion has not been below $2.29 this year and almost all of their tomatoes are $3.00 and up. Food Lion! Don’t even get me started on what they taste like. Makes our delicious red tomatoes at $2.50 seem like a bargain not to mention all of our different heirlooms. Same with lettuce and on and on. With Betsy’s incredible flowers, that you can’t even get unless you work with a really good florist, it is even worse, our prices are wholesale- what the florist would pay before they charge the public at least twice as much. Of course you all know that the Farmers’ Market is much more than just a place to buy and sell things, it is the town square where we all slow down and get to see and visit each other, let the kids run around and get some really beautiful food and flowers to enrich our lives even further. That is worth a lot too and makes those incredibly flavorful sungold tomatoes seem really inexpensive!