To market, to (Rochester Farmers) Market

May 15—In spite of the heavy rain, the opening day of the Rochester Farmers Market, outside for the first time this year on May 4, saw a good number of hearty souls make their way up and down the aisles. They had plenty to choose from even though the season has barely begun. Many items were hard to pass by — carrots, radishes, the start of asparagus, bags of fresh lettuces and spinach, bunches of ramps and packages of mushrooms were all being sold.

Rhubarb was also on display as well as a variety of meats like chicken, turkey, beef and lamb.

What about trout? It's there, all cleaned, frozen and ready for the grill.

Hard to miss, though, are the baked goods, jams and jellies, which are always favorites and always busy.

In the weeks to come the satchel you carry things home in will likely not be big enough. Another big draw these next weeks are the flats of annuals, planted pots and hanging baskets. Those too are hard to pass by, especially since many of us are itching to get flowers planted.

The market does not lack for choices and variety. This year there are over 100 vendors, though some are not there every week, depending on what they're growing. While many are long-time favorites, there are close to 18 new joining the Farmers Market this summer. Among them: Jason Selwick who offers his maple syrup as well as a large variety of vegetables. Jake's Organics is one of the new beef vendors — one of four this year — making for a total of 10 selling beef. Fasbender Produce from Adams, Minnesota, is also a newcomer. Look to them for pork, chicken and a wide variety of vegetables. Interestingly, they have a large online following.

There are also several new bakers bringing their specialties. Another newcomer is Rebecca Diwan of Orchard Acres who will have lamb, eggs and an assortment of wood products. Then there is Gardener Family Farm from Spring Grove, Minnesota, which has chickens and turkeys.

Is it any wonder that our market is recognized as one of the best in the state?

While customers come for the vegetables, meats, fruits and flowers there are other activities that make these Saturday mornings special. Exercise classes will be held again on the green, and musicians will share their talents throughout the market. Activities for kids are also in the works with a special Kids Day on Aug. 24. Chef demonstrations are also planned, always a market favorite.

Market hours are Saturdays 7:30 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, at Graham Park. It goes until the last Saturday in October. A Wednesday market will also be available. Details being worked out.

An important feature about the Farmers Market is that everything sold must have been grown within 50 miles of Rochester, which points out again what a rich agricultural community this is.

Also important is the social and community aspect of the market. In fact many of the customers have been buying from specific vendors and call each other by first names. They have history. Interestingly, while farmers markets go back to Egyptian farmers 5,000 years ago, they have always been in cities and towns in some form until the late 1930s and early 1940s when grocery stores were opening. These made shopping somewhat easier.

However that mind-set began changing in the early 1960s when people started to become more health conscious of what they ate. Today there are more than 8,000 farmers markets across the country. The Rochester market has been in existence since 1985, almost 40 years of bringing the best to our tables.

Post Bulletin food writer Holly Ebel knows what's cookin'. Send comments or story tips to .