To celebrate National Farmer’s Market Week, we’ve invited Laurie Graves, who writes the blog, A Good Eater, to take us on a trip to her farmer’s market:
My husband, Clif, and I live in Winthrop, a small town with quiet roads to ride our bikes. One of our favorite rides is on Memorial Drive, which goes along Maranacook Lake. On Saturday mornings in spring, summer, and fall, when the weather is good, we like to ride in the morning, before starting the chores of the day. As we head to Memorial Drive, we go by Winthrop’s small farmers market, a series of awnings and tables all in a row, set up in the parking of lot of the town office. We have packs on our bike. We have brought some money. We will stop on the way back. What we get varies with the season.
As a rule, we don’t eat much beef or pork, but when there is a special occasion, say, a birthday or an anniversary, we get it from Wholesome Holmstead, which is run by Karen Trenholm and her daughter, Anne. They have a stand at the farmers market, and often Karen’s sister, Kathleen Poulin, works at the market. Wholesome Holmstead sells beef and pork and yogurt and milk and cheese. Their beef and pork, free of hormones, is so good, so moist and flavorful, that in truth I would just as soon go without rather than get the meat at the supermarket. Yes, it is more expensive from Wholesome Holmstead but affordable the way we eat it, and we consider it money well spent when we support this family farm that has been in business for over 60 years. One of our favorite couples—our daughter Shannon and her husband, Mike—has an anniversary in August. Grilled steak is always on the menu, and two packages of steak fit very nicely into my pack.
Our own Farmer Kev, from whom we have a CSA share, also sets up at the Winthrop Farmers Market.
A brief history about Farmer Kev, aka Kevin Leavitt. The urge to garden hit Farmer Kev when he was a young teenager, when he saw how much food he and his father could get out of some raised beds in their backyard. By the time he was ready to go to college, Farmer Kev had graduated from backyard gardening to leasing land and starting his own CSA business. Now that Farmer Kev has finished college—surprise, surprise, he majored in sustainable agriculture—-he is looking for a place of his own and is leasing so much land that he actually has a paid staff that helps him with weeding and harvesting. Farmer Kev even had his very own intern this year. As my mother might have put it, Farmer Kev is a worker, and best of all, to go along with that drive, he has a sweet, sunny personality.
From Farmer Kev, we get plenty of certified, organic vegetables that he delivers. That’s right. He delivers. But often we want more―perhaps corn or green beans or garlic. Into the bag they go, and there is usually room in my pack for both steak and veggies. Quite usually, Tim Leavitt, Farmer Kev’s father works at the market, and his disposition is as good natured as his son’s.
Marinna Smith, of Snafu Acres, has a stand right next to Farmer Kev’s. Snafu Acres specializes in natural meats and poultry, and from her we might get eggs or some hot sausage, which will have to go into Clif’s pack because mine will be full. Marinna is a senior in high school as well as an avid people watcher, and she always bring a notebook so that she can describe what she sees. Last week, Marinna got lucky, and a woman backed her car right into one of the legs of Marinna’s awning. The awning shook, but luckily Clif and Tim stopped the driver before she took down the whole thing. With her notebook in her lap, Marinna remained unflustered.
Our packs full, we bike home, less than a mile from the farmers market. On the way back I think about Marinna and her notebook, and since I am gathering this information for a piece for the Maine Crime Writers website, I begun to imagine a scenario: What if someone ate something from the farmers market and died? Except it wasn’t an accident. Instead, it was murder most foul. Naturally, none of the vendors would be guilty. Of course not. But somehow sharp-eyed Marinna, or her fictional counterpart, would have some essential detail in her notes that solves the crime, thus clearing one of her fellow vendors.
A bike ride. Meat, eggs, and veggies. An idea for a story. Not a bad haul on a Saturday morning.
Laurie Meunier Graves lives in Winthrop, Maine, with her husband, Clif. For seven years, they published a literary magazine called Wolf Moon Journal. She currently has a blog called A Good Eater, and she is working on a fantasy novel for middle readers.
Photos by Clif Graves