The day felt like summer. The sky was sunny blue, the air a little muggy — and Hansen's farmer's market was open for business. As I motored along Eighth Street last Thursday, I could see their big tomato banner, so I pulled into the armory parking lot to check out the produce.
And as last summer, Don Hansen offered curbside service. The fresh geen beans beckoned, as did the peas and the red-skinned potatoes and the big baskets of tomatoes. Don emptied the baskets of vegetables into bags, placed them in my car, I paid him and was off with my treasures.
The vegetables are at home in my kitchen where the potatoes will be boiled with their red jackets, then tossed with real butter and minced fresh parsley. The green beans will have the stem ends cut off and they will be steamed and topped off with more real butter. The peas will be shelled, and I will be reminded of my gardening days, when we'd plant peas and seldom had a bountiful harvest. And the tomatoes — I do enjy a slice of tomato on a cheeseburger and have been known to make a tomato sandwich, with white bread and real mayonnaise.
I think back to Mother's gardening — she loved it, and until she entered her 90s would have two gardens, with rows of marigolds around each to ward off the deer, who had a hankering for fresh veggies. My memory takes me back to my days in the Lakeland 4-Leaf Clovers 4-H Club, when I signed up for the gardening project. My enthusiasm for growing things and weeding the garden quickly waned, and when it came time for the county fair in Hibbing, there were no blue ribbons for me. And then there was the garden tour, with all the club members coming to inspect the fruits of my labor of which there were not many. The evening before the tour the garden had to be weeded. There was quackgrass all over, and thank goodness it was easy to pull from the sandy soil. At the end of summer came the year-end reports, where I had to draw to scale how many rows of green beans, how many rows of brown-tipped leaf lettuce, how many tomato plants, etc. The report was then sent to the county extension agent, who as I recall wasn't all that impressed. And a few times I entered various vegetables in the county fair, probably some carrots and a couple of beets. Whenever I would see champion watermelons or really nice kohlrabi on display, I realized entering the fair was not for me.
But Hansen's Country Harvest market — that's my kind of place. They are from Hibbing and are at their Eighth Street South location in Virginisa 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. They get a grand champion purple ribbon!