Kiersten Resch Features Editor – On Friday Sept. 2, the Mount Hope Farmer’s Market came to RWU with a stand between Commons and the Admissions building. It offered a small assortment of what students can find at the Mount Hope Farmer’s Market in Bristol on Saturdays from 9 to 1. Their assortment of locally grown and produced vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, seafood, baked goods, cheese, gifts, flowers, money, coffee, food trucks, live music, and more leave consumers ready to come back for more each weekend.
The first booth at the Mount Hope Farmer’s Market is home to Cassie Tharinger, the manager of the Farmer’s Market. She looks at the applicants for the Farmer’s Market and accepts the vendors each week. By going through this selection process, Cassie can ensure there is an even mix of vendors “so it’s not just apples”.
One vendor who frequents the Mount Hope Farmer’s Market is Ian Augustine from Finch Farm in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. Ian explained an organization he is part of called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). This community of local farmers share the risks and benefits of growing produce. External businesses will give money to local farmers at the beginning of a season, then farmers will provide the businesses with produce after about twenty weeks. Though Finch Farm is not yet USDA organic certified, they grow chemical free using organic methods. Ian hopes to have the USDA organic certification for his vegetables some time soon.
Another vendor at the Mount Hope Farm Farmer’s Market on Saturday, Aug. 27 was Elizabeth Ward. She works for her mother’s company out of Carolina, Rhode Island called Earth Essence Herbals. Elizabeth travels to farmer’s markets selling her mother’s hand-made, all natural products. “My mother grows all of the plant bases for the products”, Elizabeth said, “all others are bought organically at health stores”. The products her mother makes consist of various creams, oils, and sprays to be used on the skin for your body, mind, and spirit.
As manager Cassie Tharinger said, buying from farmer’s markets gives people a “fresher, better quality, and better tasting” set of produce to eat. The local farms and businesses that come to farmer’s markets rely on the income from events such as this. The money which is distributed from people to small local businesses and farms helps to keep them afloat. Talking to local farmers at farmers markets can “show a more sustainable way of growing produce” and living as well.
When going to a farmer’s market, here are seven easy tips to follow. First, go early or late to avoid the crowds. Most shoppers will arrive in the middle of the day for the sake of convenience. Whether you decide to go at the beginning of the day or the end, know what you want to buy before you go. Going shopping without a plan can lead to buying too much produce which will inevitably go bad before it can be eaten or cooked. The final step to take before leaving for the nearest farmers market is to be sure to bring small change, large reusable bags, and a cooler. The small change will allow transactions to go smoother and quickly while moving from stand to stand. However, with today’s technology, some vendors will accept credit cards but don’t assume they will! Having reusable bags will save trees as well as ensure the bags won’t break from the weight of your produce. A cooler will allow you to keep this produce fresh if you plan to stay at the farmer’s market to relax, listen to music, socialize, or a combination of the three! Finally, don’t be afraid to try new produce you have never seen before. There will be many vendors selling items you never knew existed. The best part of buying from farm owners themselves is you can ask about produce and how they normally prepare it. If the produce you are seeing at the market is dirty or unpeeled that’s good! All produce you will find is going to be dirty and unpeeled, unlike what is sold at grocery stores. This is because they’re unprocessed and, in turn, better for you so don’t be afraid!
An exciting part about going to farmers markets in college is you can find other students at your school who are also interested in eating organic produce and using organic products. Traveling with other students can also aleviate the stress of going to a farmer’s market for the first time. The hussle and bustle of a busy farmer’s market can be overwhelming and confusing on the first visit but returning each week for more fresh produce will also let you enjoy all the market has to offer!
When asked, Ian and Cassie both said there are many easy recipes college students can master which use fresh produce.
One recipe would be chicken cutlets with strawberry-avocado salsa. The recipe calls for a cup and a half of chopped strawberries, a half cup of diced and peeled avocado, two tablespoons of minced, seeded jalapeño pepper, two tablespoons of chopped cilantro, two teaspoons of lime juice, three-fourths of a teaspoon of salt, one tablespoon of oil, four chicken breast cutlets, a quarter teaspoon of pepper, and four lime wedges.
First, toss the strawberries, avocado, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and a quarter teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.
Then, in a large skillet over medium heat, add oil to cover the pan. Sprinkle the chicken with the remaining salt and pepper then add the chicken to the pan. Cook the chicken for three minutes on each side or until they are done.
The final step is to put one chicken cutleton a plate with some of the strawberry-avocado salsa and a wedge of lime!
All of the ingredients for this recipe can be found at a local farmers market for a quick, fresh, and delicious dinner for four!