I knew it was going to be my kind of trip when I realized that our days’ agenda was built around the acquisition of freshly baked blueberry pies from the local farmers market.
We were visiting friends in Cashiers, North Carolina, who informed us shortly after our arrival that the best blueberry pie on the planet was made at the local farmers market but they ran out fast so getting there when the market opened was imperative. After just one bite of the pie after dinner that night, I agreed and was on board for Operation Piecrust, set to begin at 0900.
So the next morning we got up, zoomed down the mountain and scampered into Cashiers Farmers Market, where we scored several of the coveted pies, then spent a good portion of the day discussing Operation Piecrust and congratulating ourselves on our success. That night we celebrated by eating huge helpings of blueberry pie. Like I said, my kind of trip.
I’ve always been a fan of farmers markets. Although we live in a neighborhood where I can walk up the street to a delightful Publix and can get fresh produce with just a lift of the elbow, there are certain items that require more hunting. Number one on this list is a home-grown tomato.
If you don’t count eBay, I’m fairly certain I’ve survived to this stage of life addiction-free, although my seasonal need for homegrown tomatoes may qualify. As soon as the days grow longer and I shed my cold-weather apparel, my cravings began.
The squirrel brigade that considers our backyard its territory, when it isn’t nesting in our home, has made it clear that any attempts to grow our own tomatoes will meet with certain destruction. After several attempts and hundreds of dollars invested in anti-squirrel and tomato-plant-shielding devices, my husband reluctantly ceded defeat on the tomato front. Well, after my argument that the increase in his blood pressure and the decrease in our bank account was not worth the effort for a yield of one golf-ball sized tomato convinced him.
That’s where the vegetable stands and farmers markets come in. And luckily Atlanta does have several intown markets. Some are seasonal, such as the Morningside Farmers Market, Green Market for Piedmont Park and Peachtree Road Farmers Market.
I also asked my Facebook friends, increasingly my #1 reference source after Google, to let me in on their favorites. Jennifer said, “The Marietta Farmers Market is awesome! It’s greatly expanded from its humble beginnings in a church parking lot and now takes up half the Square on Saturdays. Excellent produce, flowers, baked goods, herbs and more. My husband’s favorite: the fresh limeade!”
Merrill told me that the one in Carrboro, North Carolina is one of the best in the country, and Holly said she loves the round, black watermelons at the St. Simons Farmers Market, where we go every time we visit the island.
We’re in St. Simons this week and stopped at the market yesterday during our bike ride and filled up our bike basket with a cantaloupe, corn and as many tomatoes as we could fit and we each ate a giant, juicy, ripe salted tomato for lunch.
I also found a few ways to locate farmers markets, no matter where you are. One is the website Local Harvest. which also locates restaurants, grocery stores and other sources of organic produce.
The other is an iPhone application called Locavore. Available for $2.99, it will help you find a farmers market anywhere in the U.S.
I haven’t found any fresh blueberry pies on St. Simons. But I do have an awesome recipe for easy blueberry cobbler, so we’ll stop by the Farmers Market again today for fresh berries. And a basketful of tomatoes of course.