Get your front row seat to seasonality – it's farmers market season! This week the Bend Farmers Market downtown and the NW Crossing Farmers Market will both open for the season. The markets offer the region's local produce, meat, poultry and fish, plus flowers, baked goods and handmade products.
The Farmers Perspective
Local farmers have been working the fields for the past few months to be ready for market. Walk by the booths and see overflowing baskets of fresh lettuce and bundles of bright orange carrots that only 24 to 36 hours earlier were rooted in the ground. The day before market, farmers have to harvest, clean the produce, bunch products by hand and pack them for transport. The majority of market season is warm, so to maximize freshness, farmers pick the most delicate produce the morning of the market.
Nearly all the farms serving Bend are small- to medium-sized, which means a lot of the last minute prep work is done with the help of friends, family or volunteers who work in exchange for produce. Rainshadow Organics offers a summer work-for-your-share program. In exchange for working at the farm one day a week throughout the season, volunteers get a weekly share—an opportunity for people who may have more time than money to get high-quality organic food.
At the market you'll meet the passionate farmers and local entrepreneurs behind the fresh, locally grown food and homemade products. Jess Weiland of High Desert Food & Farm Alliance said, "The market is a chance for farmers to speak directly to customers and benefit from feedback." For instance, if the farmer only has orange carrots and they keep getting requests for rainbow carrots, they can plant differently the next season. It's a win-win because the customer finds what they want and the farmer can sell more. Additionally, farmers get a boost when someone tells them how great their produce looks or tastes. It makes those long days toiling in the soil worth it.
Early Season Finds
If you've ever planted flowers in Bend, you know how late the growing season starts. In the early market season the produce grown in Central Oregon includes lettuce, kale, spinach, carrots and radishes. Toward the end of June expect to see more peas and beans. The markets also draw farmers from the Willamette Valley, so you'll even find berries, a definite favorite, at the start of the season.
If you're like me and get berry crazy, I've put together a few easy recipes so those fresh berries don't go to waste. I'm speaking from experience because I've been known to buy a flat for two people—that's over 11 pounds of berries!
More than Produce
The farmers market is more than fresh produce. Both markets include food carts with ready-to-eat goodies and summer coolers including gelato and ice cream. You can stock your cupboard with jellies, jams, toffee, honey, nuts, teas, coffee, spirits and more. Local artisans have booths with handmade jewelry, woodwork, pottery, skin care products and other home goods. With so much to discover, plan on spending some time at the market; some of them have local musicians, and with all that food and entertainment you won't want to leave.
Downtown Bend Farmers Market
June 7 – Oct. 11
Wednesdays 3pm – 7pm
Downtown in the Brooks Alley between Franklin and Brooks St., Bend
June 30 – Aug. 18
Fridays 2pm – 6pm
Mountain View High School, 2755 NE 27th St., Bend
Northwest Crossing Farmers Market
June 17 – Sept. 16
Saturdays 10am – 2pm
Located on NW Crossing Dr. between NW Mt. Washington Dr. & NW John, Fremont St., Bend
Check out some fun, easy summer recipes by Lisa Sipe
Easy Strawberry Turnovers
1/2 pound strawberries
¾ tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 package puff pastry
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon water
1 cup powdered sugar
Thaw puff pastry. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Chop strawberries and add them to a bowl with sugar, cornstarch and salt. Mix ingredients together and let sit for 15 minutes or until the berries release juice.
Unfold puff pastry and slice both sheets into 9 squares. Scoop a tablespoon or less of the strawberry mixture from the bowl and tilt the spoon to release any extra juice; place in the middle of a square. Fold the square over to form a triangle then seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Repeat for each square and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
Make the egg wash by whisking the egg yolk and water together. Brush the mixture onto each triangle. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
While the turnovers are cooling make a simple strawberry glaze. In a small bowl add the powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of the leftover strawberry liquid. Whisk together, if the glaze is too thick add more liquid, just a little each time until you get the right consistency.
When the turnovers are cool drizzle them with glaze.
Spiked Strawberry Lemonade
2 oz. Vodka
3/4 oz. Meyer Lemon Juice
5 large Strawberries
1/2 oz. Honey
2 oz. Water
1 Strawberry for garnish
1 Lemon slice for garnish
Add strawberries, water, lemon juice and honey to a blender. Blend on high for at least 2 minutes or until smooth. Taste the mixture and add more honey if it needs to be sweeter. Add strawberry mixture, ice and Vodka to a cocktail shaker and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a strawberry and wedge of lemon.
Quick Strawberry Sorbet
1 pound strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh mandarin or orange juice
1 tablespoon Orange Liqueur (optional)
Chop strawberries and purée in a blender or food processor. Stir in sugar, orange juice and optional orange liqueur (it makes a softer sorbet). Taste the mixture and if it isn't sweet enough add more sugar. Add the mixture to a bowl and chill for 2 hours.
Add the mixture to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's churning instructions.