A trip to the farmer’s market is one of the highlights of a visit to “Aunt Bek’s” house. Recently, my six year-old niece declared she couldn’t wait to go to the market. The only correlation I could make during the cold winter months was the grocery store and I kept wondering why the sudden interest in food shopping. Finally it dawned on me that she meant the Farmers’ Market. Her enthusiasm is understandable. There she meets the people who planted the seeds and grew the produce. The farmers welcome her, encouraging her to touch and taste a new and wide variety of food. Never an adventurous eater, this is a chance for her to possibly expand her palette. She also loves helping choose the ripest plums, pay for them and carry the bags.
Starting in May, the library will visit each of the four area Farmers’ Markets once a month, offering information on library resources, checking out a few recipe books for cooking the delicious produce and providing quick, fun hands-on activities for children.
“At the Farmers’ Market with Kids: Recipes and Projects,” by Leslie Jonath and Ethel Brennan, is arranged as a local foods cookbook should be--seasonally. After all, when food is grown locally, you won’t visit the market in Spring and find pumpkins, but instead strawberries, cherries and asparagus. In each season of the book you will find creative ways to use the freshest ingredients. Besides offering recipes that children can help make, information is also included for choosing and storing your purchases. The book provides plenty of inspiration to try something new!
“Farm” by Penelope Arlon, is a great preschool and early elementary introduction. The photographs are clear and vivid with many close-up shots, including one detailing every bump on a turkey’s face. The information is simple and accessible and perfect for enjoying together, reading cover to cover or focusing only on the tidbits that draw your young person’s interest.
Your children may leave the market inspired to give gardening a try and a book like “How Does My Garden Grow: Grow Plants for Food and Fun-Packed Projects” will help, whether you’re ready to plant a single pot or an entire field! Pages are labeled “Grow it” or “Make it” so that you can learn how to grow tiny tomatoes and then turn the page and discover a recipe for tomato pizza. There are also some fun and unusual ideas like growing loofahs which you then learn how to make into a bath sponge or create a container pond using a pot purchased at your local gardening store. Even if you don’t want to grow your own, this book is a wonderful way to gather ideas for what you reap at the market, such as turning rhubarb into a delicious cobbler or corn husks into paper!
Originally published in the Free Lance-Star newspaper.