Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday Markets

The Food Trust's Saturday market at Headhouse Square has always played second fiddle to the Sunday version and today, with only four vendors, was no exception.

As the season progresses, however, expect plenty of additional vendors, says Nicky Uy, who manages the farmers' market program for the Food Trust. Today, however, only one produce vendor (Two Ganders Farm), two flower/plant vendors (one who's still thinking what to name the stand, the other Sunday regulars Pam and Russell Young), and Amaranth gluten-free bakery showed up.

What Headhouse has going for it which the other Saturday market I visited today, Rittenhouse, do not is easy parking for those of us who live a tad too far away to walk or don't want to cope with multiple SEPTA buses.

Headhouse, however, was chock full of vendors this morning, filling up the portion of Rittenhouse Square between 18th and 19th streets. Joanna Pernick, who runs this and other farmers' markets operated by Farm to City, said that as the season brings more produce to market, and hence more farmers, the market will likely "turn the corner" onto 18th street.

I limited myself to a pint of strawberries and bunch of asparagus from Rineers, a regular at this and other city markets, but there were more than a dozen vendors to visit.

Among the vendors I chatted with were two sellers of pig meat: Cherry Grove Farm of Lawrenceville near Princeton and Rabbit's Run of Quakertown in Bucks County. Both farms specialize in cheeses (Cherry Grove from cows, Rabbit's Run from goats), which means they've got a lot of whey left over from their cheese-making. It makes a great, cheap pig feed, so they both raise pigs. Rabbit's Run (which also sells goat meat) uses a commercial mix of pigs (Duroc and Yorkshire among them) while Cherry Grove sells meat cut from Berkshire hogs, a heritage breed admired for its fat and flavor and priced accordingly, i.e., very expensive).

Among the other vendors was Fahnestock Fruit Farm, which brought hothouse tomatoes to market. Fahnestock sells at another Saturday market as well, Clark Park (year round) in West Philly, which is probably the busiest of the Saturday venues.

Other Saturday markets include the Piazza at Schmidt's, Chestnut Hill, and Fitler Square (year round), with more to open later in the season. Suburban markets currently open include Bryn Mawr, Phoenixville and Wrightstown.

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