Fall farmers markets still have a lot to offer – including chance to buy locally

I live in south Frankfort, a couple of blocks from the state Capitol building. One of my favorite things about my neighborhood is how accessible everything is. On a typical spring or summer Saturday morning, I walk or ride my bike to the Frankfort Farmers Market, then visit my favorite local thrift shop, and sometimes stop for coffee or breakfast at a local coffee shop. It’s my favorite way to spend a warm weekend morning.

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Now that the seasons are changing and the weather is cooling down, I admit that I don’t pull out my bike or walk as much as I do when it’s warm. However, I still frequent my farmers market during the cooler months. When the much-anticipated tomatoes, corn and peaches end after the summer, most of us Kentuckians tend to forget about all the delicious crops we can still grow and purchase through the fall months.

On my weekly trip to the market this week, the first week of November, I came home with a bag full of sweet potatoes, onions, acorn squash, fresh picked apples and even tomatoes and green bell peppers. If I hadn’t run out of room in my shopping bag, I also could have picked up butternut squash, green tomatoes (perfect for frying), zucchini and pears. Not to mention farm fresh beef, canned items and a jug of fresh apple cider.

One of my favorite things about the fall markets is the opportunity to try new varieties of things I can’t buy at the grocery store. Patty pan squash, pumpkins and different varieties of apples are all available. And my local farmers are always full of suggestions for cooking with these unfamiliar (to me!) items.

Not only will you score fabulous fall produce, but we all know the benefits of shopping local at our farmers markets. It saves precious fossil fuels from transporting all that produce across the country, it helps our local economy, and it ensures you’re eating products that are healthy and free from any extra additives.

In Frankfort, our farmers market is open until Nov. 23, and the Lexington Farmer’s Market is open until Nov. 30. After market season, however, many farmers are happy to provide you with their products that are available by phone call or special order. Some markets even move to indoor locations throughout the cooler months and provide a great opportunity to purchase products for holiday cooking and gifting.

Just because the weather is cooling down and the fun of summer is over doesn’t mean you have to give up eating fresh Kentucky produce. Check out your local farmers market, and add some new and interesting finds to your fall table!

blair hecker

Blair Hecker is an environmental educator with Bluegrass Greensource.  She began her work for Greensource in 2010, after graduating from Georgetown College with a bachelor of arts in religion.  At Bluegrass Greensource, Blair works with elementary students in Fayette and surrounding counties.  She is dedicated to educating Central Kentucky students about environmental issues and loves to watch them become passionate about their own environment.  On any given day, you can find Blair playing with worms, dumpster diving or turning old junk into new recycled creations. Contact Blair to schedule activities with your elementary-aged students.

This article appeared in KY Forward on November 7, 2013.

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