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Farmers market is home-grown affair
Farmers market is home-grown affair
By BARBARA CHRISTIAN
A 10:30 on a recent Sunday morning, parking was getting scarce, and the sidewalks were busy with shoppers headed to or returning from the same place, greeting each other as they passed.
The scene has played out every week, June through October, for the past five years. It's farmers market morning in Chagrin Falls.
The market is part of the eat locally, "slow food," save-the-small-farm movement in America.
In Chagrin Falls, the Sunday market is managed by North Union Farmers Market, which founded and still operates the granddaddy of all Cleveland-area farm markets on Shaker Square.
Each week during the season, the Chagrin Falls market attracts a contingent of 30 vendors offering a variety of home-grown, raised or produced edibles, including produce, meats, dairy and bakery items, along with honey and maple syrup, peanut butter, pastas, cut flowers and landscape plants.
Farmers, growers and venders arrive in the village around 6 a.m. to begin setting up their displays along both sides of North Franklin Street, which is closed to traffic during the market hours, 10 am. to 1 p.m.
Shoppers can smell the market from a block away, lured by the aroma of fresh dill and herbs mixed with sauteed meats.
Crowds are brisk throughout the morning and early afternoon. They include old and young, some dressed in Sunday church clothes, others more casually attired, many toting canvas bags, which they fill with their market selections.
On this day, Kathryn and Michael Garvey, of Chagrin Falls, have finished their shopping and are headed home to make lunch from their purchases.
Their shopping bags included a large bunch of kale. "It's slightly bitter," Mr. Garvey offered, describing the green, leafy vegetable. "But is it ever good for you," he added.
"We like to saute it in oil with a little garlic," Mrs. Garvey said.
The Garveys' other market recipe included beets with kale and finished with lemon juice.
Debi Thomas, of Moreland Hills, also shopping on this Sunday, is not a weekly visitor. But she does have a favorite vendor, the Mackenzie Creamery, of Hiram, which is known for its goat cheeses, which are herbed, spiced or sweetened with a variety of flavors.
Making its seasonal debut was the first of the locally grown sweet corn and tomatoes, both of which were on the brink of selling out.
Enjoying that same happy fate was beef raiser Chris Blankenship, of Bluebird Meadow Farm in Sullivan and whose motto is, "Know your farmer, know your food." By shortly after 11 p.m., he had sold every T-bone, porterhouse and filet mignon steak he brought to market that week.
"We do well here," Mr. Blankenship said, stating the obvious. He continued to sell what he had left, mainly pork products, ribs and bacon.
Also strolling the North Franklin Street market midway were Marge and Gary Bergstrom, who wryly noted that it's one of the few places shoppers can go these days and be certain everything for sale was made in America.
Beekeeper Charlie Wellhausen, of the Ohio Honey Co., of Kirtland, was engaging Kyle Kopecky, of Russell, in a discussion of the health benefits of bee pollen, which he sells along with a variety of honey.
Ms. Kopecky said she is a frequent customer of "the bee man," because she uses honey regularly in cooking and baking. She said he knows exactly where the honey in each bottle came from, right down to which field.
There is a lot to see, hear, smell, taste and learn at the farmers market, and producers, growers and vendors are more than happy to discuss their products with their customers. Animated conversations are constantly under way at the market.
Although just in its fifth year, the Chagrin Falls Farmers Market caught the attention of the American Farmland Trust, which voted it Ohio's best in the small-market category last year and 11th place nationally in the same category.
The depth of offerings at the market speaks to reasons why it is so popular among patrons and the farmland trust.
Shoppers can find a lowly potato or onion from a number of growers or exotic epicurean wine jellies, handcrafted butters and mustards or something called a "puffin," which is a muffin made from a pie.
In addition to shopping, market goers, on the last Sunday of the month, are treated to a cooking demonstration by Radius of South Franklin Circle chef Ali Barker, who prepares a dish from items he gathers from market stalls.
Also upcoming during the market will be the Cleveland Clinic-sponsored Healthy Heart screening program available between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Aug. 5 in the West Washington Street parking lot across from Chagrin Falls Village Hall. Screenings will include total cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure.
The weekly farmers market is run in conjunction with Your Home Town Chagrin Falls, which has more information available by calling 440-247-1895.
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