It’s been a tough spring for farmers. Torrential rain, clouds, and cold weather have screwed up the growing season, causing some local deliveries to be held up for a week or more while fields drain and plants grow to market-ready height.
Still, in its second week of the season, the Oak Park Farmers Market is going strong,with more vendors coming on each week. This is the time of year for fresh young spring onions, tender lettuces, asparagus and rhubarb, and you can probably find such early vegetables at half the stands at the OP Farmer’s Market.
Farmers markets sometimes have a rep for being over-priced, and there’s no doubt, the produce from smaller farms is going to cost a little more than the food from larger farms that can leverage their volume to provide highly competitive pricing. But high volume production sometimes means a decrease in quality, and many of the vendors at the Oak Park market present crops that are grown in “small batches,” without fertilizers, insecticides, and other chemical inputs that are more or less customary on larger farming operations.
My favorite vendors at the market are Skibbe’s and Genesis Growers, both of which offer good produce at good prices. I’ve seen some beautiful tomato plants at Nichol’s, and they’re not priced that much higher than the small plants one might buy at the annual Oak Park Conservatory and Cheney Mansion Plant and Herb sale.
There are, of course, many excellent vendors at the market. Do you have a favorite OP Farmers’ Market vendor?