The Joy of North Country Farmers' Markets

Spotlight on ...  Asparagus

By LAURA POPIELSKI

Now that spring has finally appeared in the North Country, it’s time to enjoy the seasonal produce you can find at area farmers’ markets.

During the month of May, you’re likely to find produce like salad greens, kale, asparagus and rhubarb. Fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, and chives will be offered as well.

Items like honey and maple might also be sold from local producers. For the month of May, you can visit these markets:

• Canton Village Green, downtown – Tuesdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. -2 p.m.

• DeKalb, Junction Building Supply parking lot, U.S. Hwy. 11 – Wednesdays, 1 - 6 p.m.

• Ogdensburg, Lowes parking lot, off NYS Hwy. 37 - Thursdays 1- 4 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

• Potsdam, Ives Park, next to Clarkson Inn, downtown, - Saturdays 9 a.m. -2 p.m.

If you’re visiting the market for the first time, here are a few tips.

#1 Be green and bring a reusable bag.

#2 Make an effort to come early rather than later; check gardenshare.org for listings of market dates and times. Getting there earlier in the day guarantees you a better variety of items. The good stuff goes fast!

#3 Bring cash, but if you forget, that’s not a problem! Farmers markets are equipped with a terminal that allows for debit card and EBT/SNAP payments. Visit the market manager booth for these transactions. Simply swipe your card, type in your PIN number and receive wooden tokens to spend at farmers’ booths.

#4 Be adventurous and ask questions. Try things that are new to you. Unsure of how to cook something you see? Ask the farmer! They most likely are eating it when they get home that night.

To spotlight one of the many items available at the market in May, here are some tips and ideas on how to use asparagus.

Asparagus can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in a damp paper towel for a few days, or standing upright in a glass of water.

You can freeze the vegetable by washing it, steaming for 6 minutes, cooling completely and packing in an airtight bag.

Asparagus can be eaten raw but is great in stir fries, steamed or boiled along with other veggies.

It’s an excellent source of vitamins C, K , A and folate. Folate is necessary for pregnant mothers as it is crucial for fetus spinal development. Vitamin C is important for immunity and iron absorption. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting and vitamin A needed for eye and skin health.

Roast asparagus with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Try asparagus in a cold salad by boiling it for about 3 minutes, then draining and cooling it. Dress with vinaigrette made of vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder and minced herbs like parsley and basil.

For more detailed recipes, go to thepotsdamfarmersmarket.org and be sure to visit your local farmer’s market this season!

Laura Popielsk is market manager of the Potsdam Farmer’s Market. She can be contacted at (716) 725-7782 or thepotsdamfarmersmarket@gmail.com