Friends, Family, and Farmer’s Markets

One ray of sunshine in our otherwise sleepy little town is the abundance of fresh produce during the growing season. Almost everywhere you turn, someone is set up by the side of the road selling something and here in about a month, it’s only going to get better as the farmers who planted after the last frost (instead of in a greenhouse) start to see their tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and corn come in like crazy.

I realized as I was driving down the road the other day that I’ve inadvertently become a bit of an expert on where to find the best produce in our area. If you want strawberries, you can’t beat Bradley’s Kountry Acres or Oak Grove Farms. Blackberries, we also get those from Bradley’s or Circle S Farms. Peaches come from Mr. Paul’s house (he has a little stand with an honor box). The best honey is from Happy Bee. Almost everything else (cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, potatoes, etc.) comes from Wade Farmz or one of the many other vendors at our Wednesday or Saturday Farmer’s Market…which now includes a man named Jeff.

Two weekends ago as I was leaving the market with our CSA basket, I heard a voice call my name. I turned to see a scraggly mountain man waving at me from the gate. Almost instantly I recognized the weathered but smiling face. It was Jeff, a friend of the family from so many years ago, I can hardly recall. In fact, I’d dare say 30 years have passed since Jeff was popping wheelies on my 3-speed bike across the backyard where our garden now grows. Jeff’s sister and my mom were good friends for a short while and Jeff always seemed to tag along with us wherever we went.

Me posing with a rooster in Gatlinburg, TN [circa 1988].
Jeff is a character like none I’ve ever encountered. He was a wild 22-year old boy when he went with us to Gatlinburg on vacation one year. Chickens must have been all the rage back then because everywhere we went, there were giant chicken statues and Jeff and I posed by every one of them. When I was going through photos earlier in the year, I found this one.

It was good to see Jeff at the Farmer’s Market and even better to find out that he now has a farm just 3 miles from Mom’s house. His pickling cucumbers and red potatoes are absolutely delicious, earning Birdwell Farms a spot on my list of “best places to buy produce” in Sumner County.

Last Wednesday, I took Ticky to the market with me. It was really too hot to be outside but I thought she might like to help me pick out some vegetables. She immediately wanted to give Jeff a hug, though they’d never met. Little kids (and dogs) know good people when they see them. She picked up potatoes and studied them intently, eventually handing one to a lady who walked up. Then she discovered blueberries. Before I could stop her, she plucked one from the container and popped it into her mouth. I bought 2 cartons, of which she ate about 1/2 cup when we got home. That kid loves fruit (and veggies) thank goodness!

She was so tired from her Farmers Market adventure that she passed out at our next stop. Thankfully Walmart has pillows!

We’re starting to see a few veggies from our own garden and will likely have enough blackberries to top a few waffles very soon. Watching them grow makes me pretty happy. Filling the freezer for winter will make me even happier!

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Angie comes back from her 2 week stay in Texas tomorrow. I absolutely can’t wait. Though we’ve talked every day, it feels like she’s been gone forever. While she’s been away, she’s been doing a bit of gardening too.

Plus, she took her mom to the Lubbock Farmer’s Market for the first time ever. I believe her mom has lived there all of her life. This is their haul for the day, most of which Angie has already eaten. (I hope she can sneak that honey jar past TSA!)

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