bmore bench

Baltimore has had some pretty entertaining slogans. We’ve seen “The City That Reads”, “The Greatest City in America”, “Get In On It” and ”Find Your Happy Place.”

Well, my happy place is the Waverly Farmers Market. Every Saturday, I head to East 32nd and Barclay with my bags in hand and a set amount of cash to spend. Once the bags are full and the money’s gone…I’m out. The farmers market is also part social event, but with bedhead.

For me, the best part of the market is One Straw Farm. I met farmers Joan and Drew Norman almost 20 years ago when I babysat their nephews out in White Hall – and when those boys were old enough to work at the market and I’d see them from time to time. It’s funny how things come full circle – especially in Smalltimore. For the last six years or so I’ve been a member of One Straw’s CSA = community supported agriculture program. Before the growing season starts (February or so), you send a check for a share of crops each week (June through November.) It’s been fun to learn from Joan about foods I had not really used before like beets, tomatillos, kohlrabi, celeriac, garlic scapes, etc. I now roast beets almost every week – Ina’s orange vinaigrette is a fave. I now also buy pork from One Straw, as they have starting raising pigs on the farm. The pork chops are insane…and the Boom Boom Bloody Mary mix? Yep. That’s the stuff.

Since I really just started cooking about five years ago, being in a CSA is  a great way for me to learn more about ingredients, try new recipes and share great good with my friends and family. Instead of finding a recipe and shopping for the ingredients, I do the opposite. I pick up my CSA share and figure out what to do with it. Often, I get creative and make things up…other times I’m peruse my cookbooks and favorite cooking sites like Food52 and The Kitchn.

Other vendors I visit at Waverly are Zeke’s for coffee, Blacksauce Kitchen for those ridiculous biscuit sandwiches, Andy Bachman for eggs and my Thanksgiving turkey, Caulk Farm for melons, squash, pumpkins (he is the nice bearded man with the horse trailer), Baltimore Bill’s Dills for pickles, Gardener’s Gourmet for herbs, Liberty Delight for beef and chicken, Fountain farm (my friend calls him “suspenders guy”) for rhubarb, asparagus, corn and other seasonal items, and Tom McCarthy for fresh shelled peas and beans. After I get the essentials, if I have a few dollars left, I’ll buy flowers by the stem from John at Locust Point Flowers, sauerkraut from Hex Ferments or maybe some ginger hemp granola from Michele’s.

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The farmers market allows me to shop like my grandparents did – directly from people they knew in their community. I’m old school, I guess. My grandmother was a great cook – I like to think I’m channeling her in the kitchen. I never knew her, which is just such a shame. I’ve heard epic tales of cakes and fried chicken.

This Saturday is the last week for my CSA. As with every other year, I will miss the vegetables but more so, Joan and her crew. #ilovemypeople

p.s. My other happy place is The Wine Source. Duh.