Farmers Market Offers Fresh, Fun Finds

by Alex Cheser
Columnist

I’ll admit, part of me wanted to stay in bed when I got up early on Saturday morning, and by early, I mean before noon. You know how Friday nights are at Transy. I had a purpose though and knew I would be rewarded as I headed downtown for the Lexington Farmers Market with my roommate, J.R. Enderle.

I knew I would be rewarded because it is harvest season at the farmers market. I have been to the farmers market on more than one occasion on Tuesdays and Thursdays when it’s at the intersection of Maxwell Street and South Broadway and loved it, but this was my first trip to the Cheapside location.

The size amazed me. I expected it to be confined under the pavilion, but almost the entirety of the block was full with booths and people. Casually edging our way through the crowd, we passed all kinds of corn, tomatoes, cheeses, apples, breads, peaches, berries, flowers, wines, herbs and even locally sourced meat and barbecue. This grand festival of food far exceeds the farmers market on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

My stomach reminded me that I hadn’t had breakfast so I set out to find this lady I’d heard about who makes breakfast crêpes. I don’t know whether she’d stayed home to read Baudelaire or if she was on strike, but I couldn’t find her. I did come across a food stand called Cookin’ Up Kentucky that sold a variety of breakfast biscuits and sandwiches, so I decided to dine there. Plus, you have to trust a place that partakes in “cookin’ ” instead of cooking. That’s legit. I ordered the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, minus the L, on sourdough bread with pesto aioli.

Sipping on my lavender lemonade while they prepared my sandwich, I strolled across the aisle to a stand selling beer cheeses, honey and jams. I’d had beer cheese a few times and liked it, so I thought trying homemade would be a good call. Well, apparently not. The gentleman was extremely kind, but explained he would rather be safe than sorry and couldn’t sell me any because I was under 21. I was certainly embarrassed and played it off by assuring him I’d be back in a couple of years.

“Oh, you’ll find some before then,” he joked as I walked away.

J.R. and I sat down at a booth to take everything in while I ate my sandwich. It was delicious. The juice of the fresh tomatoes dripped down my hands as I delighted in the balance between the creaminess of the aioli and the savory crunch of the bacon.

After eating, I decided I should be somewhat of a journalist and went up to the Friends of the Farmers Market booth. There I found Hank Galbraith, one of the volunteers. Galbraith has been volunteering for the farmers market for about five years now and loves it.

“I just love to eat,” he laughed.

The Friends of the Farmers Market is a group of around 20 to 25 people who help set up, sell merchandise or whatever else needs to be done for Jeff Dabbelt, the market manager. Apparently, the Lexington Farmers Market is the oldest in Kentucky and has been operating since 1975. Vendors have to register and there’s a weekly fee to help run the market, which operates independently from the city of Lexington year-round.

Leaving the farmers market with some apples and peaches in tow, I took pride in the morning. The market is of vital importance to local farmers. Galbraith pointed out that since tobacco isn’t the cash crop it used to be, farmers have had to turn to something else for income. Yes, their produce is a little more expensive, but there’s a certain comfort in buying raspberries from a lady who picked them from her backyard the night before. I enjoyed seeing other Transy students there too. It really is an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone, but go soon because winter will be here before you know it.

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