June 16, 2012
Record-setting crowds have attended Moore County Farmers' Markets this spring. There's one almost every day, which helps establish pattern. Early heat and enough rain produced good crops so far. But one thing I notice, especially downtown Southern Pines on Saturday: People fill their shopping bags at the largest, best-stocked stand. There's nothing wrong with this except the long payment line. However, one-stop shoppers miss good stuff. On Saturday at the smaller stands I found baby fennel, zucchini plants in flower (stuffed zucchini flowers...yum), no-spray blueberries, lavendar, fresh farm eggs, goat cheese, and bottles of green tea meant for watering houseplants, pointy cabbage (whatever that tastes like), sticky buns, snapdragons and, of course, tomatoes, varietal potatoes, herbs, corn, and greens. I try to spread my dollar(s) around, even outside the market setting. Strawberries from the Highlander Farm stand were beyond belief this year. Maybe the best thing on Saturday morning is the dog "show"....from a graceful greyhound to adorable twin yellow lab puppies from a rescued mom, yappy corgis and interesting mixed breeds. I do wish the peach vendor would sell by the pound instead of the box...but I usually find a shopper to share. The Monday afternoon market at FirstHealth Fitness Center is practically a stampede, at opening. But the mood is happy, the colors glorious. Don't forget a reusable shopping bag. I found the biggest ones at the check-out counter at TJ Maxx, for a dollar. Or, save paper bags with handles from Lowe's and Harris Teeter. And be a dear: bring one and five-dollar bills, not twenties.