Fall is my favorite season, but not when it comes to my favorite farmers market. It’s not that the offerings suffer (four words: red bell peppers, roasted) it’s that people somehow think we’re closed.
Truth is, the Kingfield Farmers Market is open through Halloween this year, and not because we’re desperate. Sure, school starts when it does because farm kids way back when weren’t needed for the harvest, but the market bounty just keeps rolling in.
Fall’s stars are, of course, the apples, which hit the market in early August and will roll right on through October along with the pears and other tree-ripened Minnesota fruit. The squash still comes thundering down — you will seek us out for pumpkins in October — and too-often ignored items like parsnips scream to become soup seasonings.
But summer’s heroes hang around much longer than people seem to think. Fresh, juicy tomatoes — heirloom or otherwise — do not shrivel and die immediately after Labor Day. Neither does the sweet corn, or the multicolored pole beans, or the peppers, basil, beets, broccoli, potatoes or carrots. Late lettuce sometimes appears after the heat has faded.
And depending on Mother Nature’s whims, the weather is actually nicer for hanging out. You can drink Palmira’s coffee hot instead of iced, and Chef Shack’s Arnie Palmers give way to steaming cider.
The late markets are when we always lay in the canned goods, from Martha, or Jerry, which will provide market memories when winter truly approaches. We also set aside some extra dough for Braucher’s chickens, beef and lamb, carving out freezer space for the long off-season.
But markets just aren’t about food, they’re about community, and even though our kids are collecting once again in schools, we can feel winter’s isolation approaching and our NEED to be together seems that much more acute. We compare notes about teachers, or about jobs now that vacations are truly over, or about how incredibly beautiful the leaves had turned on our walk to the market.
After 10 years of market-managing, we finally got smart this year and ordered some of our trademark brown T-shirts with long sleeves, and added a line of sweatshirts. We finally realized that half of our market months (May, September and October) can be cool!
But fall markets are not like the first spring markets — they’re stuffed with vegetables and fruits and neighborly connection built up over dozens of weeks. It’s not time to go home. It’s time to throw on another layer and keep the celebration going.
Kingfield Farmers Market
The market runs every Sunday through October, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m. at 43rd & Nicollet. It features locally grown food, music and more. For more information, visit kingfieldmarket.org or e-mail John at [email protected]