Fresh Finds At W-B Farmers Market
WILKES-BARRE — A flourish of various shades of green preceded Megan Strayer as she walked through Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square on the opening day of the city’s farmers market.
She carried a tray of 16 houseplants in her arms, destined for a spot near the large picture window in her home that gets sun through the day.
“I have a good collection, but I’m trying to grow some more. I like a lot of green in my house,” she said.
She estimated the purchase would have cost her $120 at a large store. She got a deal, scooping up the tray for $45.
Strayer, 25, came from Hunlock Creek on a day off from work to visit the farmers market. She planned to stow her houseplants and return for succulents, apples and fresh vegetables.
“I’m going to come back and buy more probably, but I only have two arms,” she said.
Farmers market season began Thursday in Wilkes-Barre. The market runs from 10 to 4 Thursdays on Public Square through Nov. 15. Mondays at the Market will also return, running from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, July 2 through Aug. 27.
The weekly event features a variety of goods for sale, musical performances and other programs. Merchants offer produce, bread, meat, eggs, honey, jams and sauces, gifts and other items, and food trucks sell prepared meals.
Norm Darling, of Darling Farm and Greenhouse in Plains Twp. and Dallas Twp., had greens, herbs and flowers for sale.
The wet spring and lingering winter delayed his work about three weeks. He would usually carry kohlrabi, broccoli, radishes and spinach during the first week. Those are coming soon.
“One day it was snowing and the next day it was 70 degrees. You can’t get much done when things are like that,” he said.
The next challenge from the weather was a forecast of extreme heat.
Farmer Paul Brace, of Brace’s Orchard, had his full selection for this time of year available — apples, cherries, blueberries, as well as treats like baked goods, cider and honey.
He sells seven days a week, including Mondays and Thursdays in Wilkes-Barre.
Each market is another chance to sell and to advertise the business to someone who might buy then or head to the orchard later.
Apples in a supermarket might be as old as two or three years old. The ones he was selling Thursday were last year’s crop that had been saved in cold storage. In season at the farmers market, they might be picked the day before.
“When you come to the market, you actually see where your food comes from. It’s a win-win situation,” he said.
A spring of cold temperatures meant his trees weren’t blooming until later than the previous year, but the abrupt change to warmer weather was helpful. No cold snaps came when the upcoming crop was at its most vulnerable.
“The fruits are on the trees, so the only thing we’re worried about now is a hailstorm,” he said.
Bruce Parnell, 47, of Wilkes-Barre, was another shopper on opening day. The dill and cucumbers he bought would soon become quick pickles, ready in 24 hours after he followed a friend’s recipe.
He works from home, so a trip to the market is a good way to get out of the house while also getting some groceries.
“Everything’s fresh, everything’s local. Just to support our local businesses and farmers, I think, is a huge deal,” he said. “And I’ve been coming down here ever since I was a little kid, so it’s also tradition.”
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