the last farmer’s market

Alas and alack, the season’s farmer’s market has come to a close. It runs from early May through the last weekend in October and that, friends, is this.

I love the Iowa City’s farmer’s market, even though it’s only open Wednesday evenings (colliding exactly coinciding with my business class) and Saturday mornings. Since you all know what happens most Saturday mornings in the fall, I won’t waste space re-explaining how woefully ill-conceived such a schedule is. Strangely enough, though, Saturday mornings at the market are always a bustling medley of organic vegetable farmers and hippie beef, pork, and elk (!) vendors, local cheese makers, purveyors of jams, honeys, salsas, and single-variety apple butters, craft stands, baked goods and pastas, enviably flourishing herb planters, and, of course, samples. Samples are key. Samples are how we’ve been induced to buy aged Gouda, hummus, and, from one woman, two kinds of barbecue sauce. If you don’t have samples, you’re not in the game.

If I didn’t know this fall has been unseasonably warm, I’d be griping a lot more about the market closing before Halloween. Some farm stands were still hawking tomatoes! Tomatoes in October! Definitive proof that the growing season is far from over. I’m nearly positive they could keep chugging until the week of Thanksgiving — but maybe that’s just the desire for farm-fresh butternut squash and Iowa turkeys (!) talking. Still, we were perfectly happy to pick up those ugly tomatoes, tiny green beans, a violently orange cauliflower, potted thyme, home-spun fettuccine, and that lovely aged Gouda.

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