A very berry farmers' market

May. 03, 2014 @ 11:23 AM

The South Durham Farmers’ Market celebrated its third season this past weekend with cake, music, balloons and, of course, lots of good food.

The day commemorated two years of serving the South Durham community quality, locally produced foods. We also kicked off our month of honoring the strawberry with fluffy slices of strawberry cake baked by one of our newest vendors, Pat Eldridge of Mango Bakery.

Throughout May, we will have several events that showcase the juicy sweetness of the strawberry and give shoppers a taste of this year’s harvest. Next Saturday, our Community Cooking Club hopes to inspire brunch ideas for Mother’s Day with samples of breakfast recipes featuring strawberries. Kids at the market can make simple strawberry snacks on May 24 and, on May 31, Brian Wiels of Rise Biscuits will be at the market serving mini strawberry shortcakes to shoppers.

This year, our strawberry crop has matured a couple of weeks late due to the unusually long and cold winter. Even in high tunnels and greenhouses, the strawberries of Wrenn’s Farm are three weeks behind last year. However, long, slow ripening of the fruit yields a more flavorful berry, well worth the wait. In addition to Wrenn’s Farm, we have four other farms bringing delicious strawberries to the market: Brooks Farm, Dig It Farm, Down 2 Earth Farm and Pine Knot Farm.

Strawberries are resilient plants that grow quite well in the clay soil of the Piedmont.  Most of our farmers planted their strawberries in the early fall of last year using plasticulture. In this method, raised rows are covered with thin plastic, and the strawberries are planted in holes cut in the covering. This technique reduces both weed growth and soil loss. The berries ripen once spring days are warm and long enough, and after last weekend’s weather, strawberry topped salads and pancakes are finally here.

In addition to having strawberries on Saturdays, quart containers full of the bright red berries will be available at our new Wednesday market, starting this Wednesday! We are very happy to offer this additional opportunity for local farms and food artisans to sell to the community.

The midweek market will be open from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday and will run through the end of October. The Wednesday market will include some of our regular Saturday vendors and a couple of new vendors, too.

We hope this extra day will make the South Durham Farmers’ Market more accessible to local shoppers and make it easier for our regulars to eat local all week long. 

Elizabeth Zander is market manager for the South Durham Farmers’ Market, open 8 a.m. noon each Saturday at Greenwood Commons Shopping Center, 5410 NC Highway 55.