Gardens + farmers markets = happy SoupAddict

Hello, June!

For months and months you’ve been awaited and now you’ve arrived [muah!].

Here. Take a seat and stay a while. A long, long while. Please? Okay? Pretty please? With cheese?

Because you are ever so lovely.

Last night, I watched fireflies sparkle and glow until the air turned the sweet scent of rain and low, rumbling thunder shooed the symphony of chirpers and croakers for cover.

Dinner was a salad of garden fresh herbs and vegetables, and local eggs cracked from freckled, latte-hued shells. Later, frozen strawberries (local, of course) were blended to thick, creamy goodness with a little maple syrup (also local) and homemade Greek-style yogurt.

This is June at Casa SoupAddict.

June also signals the official kick-off of farmers’ market season.

A friend pointed out to me recently that our fair city now has more farmers’ markets (45) than Walmarts (20). On any given day, there will be at least one open somewhere in the city (including a 7-day market that’s on my way home from work).

This is progress.

Cincinnati is very suit-and-tie suburban (P&G lives here, ya know), but we’re happily surrounded in all directions by farmland. I’m grateful that so many small farmers are willing to pack up their goodies, drive an hour north/south/east/west and share the amazing fruits of their hard labor with my community.

The inspirational Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm (of Food, Inc. fame) posted a piece on Polyface’s Facebook page about the hazards of the USDA’s organic certification program, including a link to an article exposing recent corruption.

The peeps in my personal circle — folks who spend considerably less time than I do researching industrial agriculture (and understandably so), and who politely stifle yawns and eye-rolls when I launch into an impassioned recount of the misdoings du jour of Big Ag and their co-horts (also understandably, if not a tad disappointing) — they happily chant “organic!” at every turn, accentuated with random fist-pumpage and an outer glow of good intentions. Which makes me both cringe and stifle an eye-rolling of my own.

I’m thrilled that they embrace the no-chemical-no-gmo-no-crazy-ingredients motto, but … to sum up years of tangly downslide into one simple sentence: the organic packaged food industry is a hot mess. Trusting any brand on any given day is an exercise in risk if you’re not willing to keep up with the news. As Joel points out on his FB page, the best way to ensure safe food is to shop locally and know your food producer (and make your own granola bars … looking right at you, Kashi).

I hope you live near a farmers’ market so you can do just that.

Memorial Day weekend welcomed the opening of my own neighborhood’s market, the Anderson Farmers’ Market.

Along with a three-day sustained heat wave of over 90°F.  Brutal.

May came in like a bull with a mission and was dead-set on going out with a whoop and a holler.

But that’s okay. Thanks to May’s brash warmth and abundance of sunshine, the summer crops are well ahead of schedule.

When I was young, my older brothers were the gardeners in the family and each spring was a race to have the first red tomato by the 4th of July. And not just a cherry tomato, because that’s too easy. But a big, ripe beefsteak.

Now, every year, from habit, I find myself wandering the tomato gardens most days in June, lifting leaves and peeking deep into the foliage canopy, trying to spy a candidate.

For the past few years, external events have conspired against a July 4th tomato, making it not just unlikely, but clearly impossible. This year, however, things are looking mighty promising.

Promising, indeed.

More on that as June progresses. But first, a few scenes from a farmers’ market:


  1. Darlynne says:

    Lovely. *sigh* Thank you.

  2. (heart)
    My first CSA share pickup is next week (yeah). But I will be in Houston all week, which means I won’t get to enjoy it all (boo). I am so happy that “fresh” season is on its way back.
    I am looking forward to hearing more about the progress of the blood orange plant.

  3. Going to a farmer’s market is the best! My husband and I are planning to put vegetable beds next to our garden. We’re excited about it! Thanks for including the pictures!

  4. I’ve been following your blog for a bit, and just love it. I actually lived in Cincinnati for nearly three years, until I moved to Beijing, where I’ll be until the end of the month. I’m returning to Cinci to go back to graduate school at CCM. I’m a flutist. I’m really looking forward to being back. I had NO IDEA there were 45(!!) farmers markets in the city. While there, I only frequented Findlay Market, which I’m dying to get back to, and I heard the Hyde Park market wasn’t too bad either. Just thought I’d finally say hello! I’m jealous of your beautiful garden! :)

    • Hi Brittany,

      I’m a UC grad and enjoyed many a fine performance from the enormously talented folks at CCM – congratulations! Findlay is lovely as ever (although heads-up, the parking lots are no longer free), and the Hyde Park Market has grown into quite the thing – they take over Hyde Park Square on Sunday mornings now. Even Mt. Adams opened its first market this year. Safe travels and welcome back!

      • I can’t believe you have to pay for parking now! Ah well, it was bound to happen I guess. I actually always lucked out on the street at the entrance to the market anyways. I’ll definitely have to check out the Hyde Park market. I can’t wait to be back!

  5. Gorgeous pictures. I moved from the Alabama/Florida coast, to Centerville Ohio and lived there for almost 4 years. Home grown local vegetables were ready later in Ohio than what I was accoustomed to. So, at the end of May I would drive home to Alabama. Once home, I would load my SUV down with homegrown vegetables from my Daddy’s garden, along with Chilton County peaches from North Alabama. Back up I-65 I would go with the bounty for myself and my neighbors. My neighbors ate their first “pink-eye purple hull peas” thanks to me. I taught them the difference between speckled butterbeans and white butterbeans. I showed them how to cut Silver Queen and Silver King Corn off the cob for the freezer. I taught them how to dust red okra with a little cornmeal and fry it up in an iron skillet. My Ohio neighbors taught me about delicious sweet corn that could be found at the end of June. There it was, being sold beside the road, off of flat bed trailers owned by the farmers who had grown the corn. The tomatoes, which came along in late June through July, were beautiful and I would drive boxes of them down to my Daddy in Alabama after all of his were long gone because of the heat. I got to pick my first Halloween pumpkin from a field while in Ohio. And yes, back down I-65 I went with pumpkins loaded down in my SUV for all my nieces and nephews. It was a wonderful time….I felt like what we call a “truck farmer” here in the South.

  6. Quick question about about peas. I have a bunch of them growing this year (first year trying them). Once they produce their pea pods what do I do? Trim them back a little? Do they produce more peas? Are they finished and can be pulled up for the compost heap?

    Thanks in advance for your gardening advice 😉

    • Hi Christy,

      If they’re turning brown and drying up, they’re probably done for. However, if they’re still healthy, you try cutting a vine above a leaf node and see what happens. In my neck ‘o the woods, once the heat of June hits, peas will stop producing and die back – basically, they’re annuals here (although I can reseed in late summer for a short fall crop). But if your cool weather stretches longer, give it a shot. It certainly can’t hurt, as long as you have the space for them!

  7. Gorgeous images of the farmers market!

  8. those are great pictures! i love farmers markets. and i completely agree—lets convince June to sit and stay a while! :) this spring is flyingggg by!

  9. phyllis says:

    I am new to your blog, actually today is the 1st time.
    All your photos are truly inspirational – thank you for taking the time for all of us to enjoy.
    Happy gardening!!

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