Visit Market Square in St. Paul one summer Saturday and you’re likely to find a hive of activity. Saturday mornings at the Clinch River Farmer’s Market include entertainment from local musicians, cloggers, Civil War re-enactors and storytellers, as well as educational events about canning and freezing food, gardening tips, and recipes.
Of course, a farmer’s market wouldn’t be complete without farmers. You’ll find them there, standing behind tables and sitting at the end of truck beds piled high with Mother Earth’s bounty. As the seasons change, so do the foods. In the spring you’ll find asparagus stacked primly next to easygoing, peppery watercress. Bright blueberries and crispy broccoli have their turn on the tables before the weather grows hot. As the temperature rises, customers begin to search for things cool and juicy: melons, peaches, and tomatoes.
Ah, tomatoes. They seem to come in every color, from the familiar reds and yellows to the more exotic purples and pinks and striped varieties. What’s that you say? I left out green? No, I was saving the best for last. The best Southern cooks can turn these simple little globes into tummy-pleasing delights. My mother, the finest cook in Southwest Virginia, does it this way:
Slice green tomatoes ¼” thick and soak them in a bowl of buttermilk. Mix corn meal, flour, salt and pepper; dredge tomatoes in the mixture. Cover bottom of skillet with a shallow layer of vegetable oil and heat. Fry tomatoes one layer at a time. Turn when golden and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels and serve. Stand back and accept the adoration of your family.
You’ll find green tomatoes and a whole lot more at the Clinch River Farmer’s Market. The market opened in 2009 with a vision to create an economic engine that would power the community’s agripreneurs and entrepreneurs.
Since that time the market has provided a venue where we can buy fresh produce and herbs, locally raised meats, canned goods, flowering plants, and handmade crafts. It is open Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. During peak season, it also operates on Wednesdays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Clinch River Farmer’s Market received funding to build a permanent structure from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. Construction began in the fall of 2011 and on June 30th, 2012, the community celebrated the grand opening of this new pavilion.
You can find the Clinch River Farmer’s Market in downtown St. Paul. Be sure to friend the market on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CRFarmersMarket.
Neva Bryan is author of St. Peter’s Monsters and Sawmill Boys. This Wise County native is the education coordinator for `Round the Mountain.
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