Local produce sells quickly at Farmers Market
Visitors to the Rugby Farmers Market Wednesday, July 21, gathered early near the Northern Lights Tower, hoping to get first dibs on green beans and cucumbers.
Vendors said the cukes went quickly.
“The first half hour it was really busy,” vendor Karen Christenson said. “If you didn’t get here by 4:30, you were not getting cucumbers.”
Christenson asked her neighboring vendors, “Are cucumbers gone from everybody? I think so.”
“Do you guys have cucumbers?” Christenson asked Jill and Matt Roberts, who had a few veggies, herbs and tart cherries on their table. “No,” Jill Roberts answered. “We had some, but we’re sold out. We’ll have more Saturday.”
Held Wednesdays at 4 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 a.m., the Rugby Farmers Market runs through September or when supplies of produce are gone for the season.
Christenson, who sold zucchini, onions, canned goods and other items said of the customer flow, “It’s been pretty good, as hard as it is to get produce, period.”
“Without a doubt,” this year’s exceptional drought conditions in Pierce County made gardening a challenge, Christenson said. “First, a lot of the garden did not come up. Then, when it did come up, if you didn’t water it, it just sat there. It still just sits there. It’s not like rain water.”
Market organizer Sandy Brossart offered purple and yellow onions at her table. “I’ve got broccoli and cabbage and zucchini and beets. Our peas are gone; beans are gone,” she said.
“It looks good so far,” Brossart said of this year’s farmer’s market. Brossart said she’s been involved with the farmers market for 15 years. “I’m here every year,” she said.
“It’s hot this year,” Brossart added. “We’re doing lots of watering and lots of extra work. It’s the weather. It’s tough. But the customers have been coming and we have new people selling freezer beef and we have someone who hasn’t been here yet, but they’ll be here selling bison meat.”
“So, this year, we have meat, veggies, potatoes, jams, jellies and baked goods,” Brossart said.
“They always pick me (to chair the event),” Brossart noted with a laugh. She said she’s had help from fellow volunteer Vernice Brossart for years, however, this year Vernice has stayed busy keeping her own garden alive in tough drought conditions. “She has other things going on, too,” Brossart said, adding she hoped she could find more volunteers to help out.
“But we have our normal vendors and we have some new ones, so all is well,” Brossart said.
Vendors selling meat, both from the freezer and barbecued, added variety to this year’s farmers markets.
Some vendors said they wouldn’t be at every market, but planned to make regular appearances.
Derek Seright, Towner, sold freezer beef, pork and lamb sourced from his family business, Seright Farms.
“We’re going to be coming here every Wednesday, because we also go to the Minot Farmers Market every week,” Seright said.
“Everything is all-natural,” he said of the meat. “It’s local. We raise all of our own pork; we raise our own beef and we raise our own lambs.”
Like other vendors, Seright said the early customer rush impressed him. “It’s been great,” he said. This is the first time I’ve been to this particular market and for the first hour, it was busy.”
Seright described the Rugby customers as “very friendly. The people are very nice.”
“We have our own website and some people pre-ordered,” he added. “They’ll be coming tonight and we’ll have a meat package for them. We’re kind of like a ‘Hello Fresh’ for meat.”
“We can show you where our meat comes from. We can show you the animal right there and you know where it’s coming from. We have it butchered in local shops and they do a great job,” Seright said, adding the meat comes in clear packages.
The Arnold family of Willow City also stayed busy when the market opened, selling Mexican street corn and barbecued pulled pork featuring sauces and seasonings made by their business, Arnold’s Misfit Acres.
“It was great today. We sold out pretty early,” Steve Arnold said.
The Arnold children, Katherine and Joshua, wore aprons bearing the official logo of the Kansas City Barbeque Society.
Steve Arnold said Katherine had earned the title of Barbeque Master from the society, fulfilling all the requirements necessary for the certification two years before the minimum age of 16.
The Rugby High freshman said she enjoyed cooking quality barbecued meat for the family business.
“It was great today,” Robyn Arnold said of the customer turnout. “This is our first year here.”
Like other vendors at the market, the Arnold family said they planned to return during the season.
Other unique items at the market included fresh herbs and Carmine Jewel tart cherries sold by Matt and Jill Roberts of Rugby.
“Try some,” Jill offered, holding an open plastic bag filled with tart, dark red cherries.
“We’ve got juice from them for sale, too,” Matt Roberts said.
“This is our first day here,” Matt Roberts added. “There was a rush (of customers) at first, but it’s kind of thinning out a little bit.”
The Robertses said the drought challenged them as much as it did the other vendors. “We’ve had to water,” Matt Roberts said. “But again, this is our first year and we’re learning.”
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