Spring Produce: Buy It or Grow It

 It’s a big weekend Saturday and Sunday for spring vegetables, whether you want to buy from local growers or plant your own.

The Memphis Farmers Market opens Saturday at 7 a.m. in the Central Station Pavilion, offering an abundant selection of spring vegetables such as spinach, radishes, beets, kale, scallions, chives, and - be still my heart - salad greens like mesclun mix and bibb lettuce.

Cookbook author and restaurant owner Jennifer Chandler also will be demonstrating recipes from her book Simply Salads at 10 a.m. Look for cooking demonstrations by local chefs and sampling by farmers all summer, thanks to a successful campaign by the Memphis food policy group, who worked hard to get local health code requirements in line with state guidelines.

In the past, farmers were prohibited from sampling fruits and vegetables. Under the new guidelines, they can now offer whole foods like strawberries or cherry tomatoes, but not sliced fruits or vegetables like sprouts because they are “potentially hazardous” (can you stand this?).

Josephine Williams, a member of the food policy group and coordinator of GrowMemphis, explains the new sampling guidelines as “a big win for farmers markets throughout Tennessee.”

“Sampling will increase access to healthy food choices by getting around the barrier of the unfamiliar,” she explained in an email. “ Farmers selling more is good for all of us.”

If you are interested in doing a little backyard farming yourself, stop by the GrowMemphis plant sale Sunday, April 17th, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Idlewild Presbyterian Church for heirloom and more traditional vegetable plants, all grown organically from seed.

Last summer, I planted my first vegetable garden with plants from GrowMemphis. This is a picture of my cantaloupes, which were prolific and easy to grow.
Memphis Farmers Market, Central Station Pavilion, Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Through mid-October
GrowMemphis Vegetable Plant Sale, Sunday, April 17th, 1 to 4 p.m., Idlewild Presbyterian Church, 1750 Union


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