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The Great Saturday Morning Vegetable Hunt: Cedar Park Farmers’ Market

This entry is part of a series, Market Days»

Many Veggies

The dreadful heat of our early-onset summer, complete with extreme drought, continues. Sadly. It’s a disaster for sure, for farmers, ranchers and home gardeners. There’s just no way to keep enough water and coolness on the plants to avoid crop loss. My poor tomato plants are thinking about giving up; even the ones that are the most heat-resistant aren’t blooming.

I can’t begin to imagine what the for-profit vegetable gardeners and farmers are fighting.

Still, there’s hope as long as there’s a good farmers’ market nearby. Today, PJ and I decided to check out the Cedar Park Farms 2 Market version, which meets a Lakeline Mall. Sonia looked hopeful and sad at the same time, so we decided to include her in the expedition. We grabbed our straw hats and carry bags, made sure Sonia had a walking lead handy and we were off.

Lakeline’s a good twenty minute drive down the freeway, and since we didn’t know where the market was set up exactly, it took us more than a half hour to get there. (Providing they don’t move it, the tents and sellers are set up in the south parking lot, near Sears. Write that down somewheres, so I don’t lose it, okay?) We went the wrong way ‘round the mall, and it’s a big place with lots of stops.

Although it was not much past nine in the morning, the temperature was already over 85 and a heat index that had to be well over 90. Walking around on a large, flat plate of asphalt doesn’t improve that any, even with lots of tents about. And there were plenty! I counted something like 50 vendor tents with offerings of all sorts: Vegetables, fruits, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, handmade sodas (habañero!), jumbo pretzels, pickles of various sorts, and lots more. Locavore t-shirts. Grass-fed beef. Fresh fish and shrimp. (He sold out in about an hour, the lucky guy; he could escape the heat!). Kitchen Pride mushrooms. Lala’s Lemonade (great varieties). Cakes, scones, breads and soft, jumbo pretzels. Indian food and Nepalese hot sauces. And a couple of tents just for the live music.

And did I mention the vegetables? Man, some mighty fine veggies, including table after table of peppers, hot and sweet. Red, orange, green, even little purple peppers. (They were scorchers.) Plenty of tomatoes, of course, although the prices didn’t seem to be as attractive as I’d have liked. Maybe I’m spoiled. They certainly looked fresh and ready to eat or preserve. Squash and potatoes, greens and herbs, carrots and tomatillos. Onions and cabbage. And that was just from one vendor! Lots of nice-looking melons: Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, a few canary melons. A limited supply of Hill Country peaches (going fast!) and some grapes, but not much other tree- or vine-type fruits.

You could even get a free massage, if you were willing to wait in line. In the heat. (I did mention the heat, didn’t I?)

Sonia got more attention than any three Red Golden dogs should have, although she indicated that it was almost adequate. Overall, I mean. She was drawing kids over like a watermelon rind draws houseflies. Lots of adults, too. She just sat there, smiling, and let Paula Jo manage the crowd for her. I guess she thinks she’s royalty or something. Next time we’ll drag along one of those “take a number, wait in line” machines. (I wonder if there’s a revenue opportunity in here somewhere. After all, fake Santas do it. Hmmm; I need to think about this…)

What did we take home? Zucchini; a nice, seedless watermelon; some handmade sodas, a couple of jumbo soft pretzels. Oh, and nice bottle of olive oil. Award-winning stuff; took first place in Los Angeles this year. It’ll be great in vinaigrettes and for dipping sauce. Too fancy for everyday cooking, though!

We got out of there after 45 minutes or so; even puppy was beginning to drag from the oppressive radiation. I think I sunburned my eyeballs…

Enjoy the (Locavore Farmers) Heat!


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