I almost feel like a farmer when I get up bright and early on a Saturday morning and immerse myself in just-picked sweet corn and cucumbers that still have the remnants of soil on them (proof they actually grew in the earth) and plump red-orange tomatoes that you can smell before you cut them open.
Of course, my version of early is not the same as any farmer's. Sevenish is the crack of dawn for me, but luckily a dozen or so official farmers have been up for hours, weekend or not, picking the cream of their crops and loading up their pickups with Japanese eggplant, green beans, squash, blueberries, peaches and more.
I peruse their bounty in the shade of giant oaks on the square in downtown Trenton, and load up my bag with plum jelly made by Mrs. Jack Sims, and sold by her husband. He is as handy out of the kitchen as she is in it, and sells wooden crafts he made by hand.
The brainchild of John Shober, the Trenton Farmer's Market is thriving, even after the setback last summer from the slew of tornadoes that tore through the area. "We have a regular crew here every Saturday," John says. "And when the sweet corn comes in, it’s a war zone practically. Everybody scrambling to get some!" Anyone can be a vendor as long as you grow your produce in Dade County or a surrounding county. And everything sold at the market, be it a bird house or sweet-smelling lotion or loaf of banana bread, must be homemade.
Wayne Wynn heaps his pickup with corn, tomatoes, peppers and beautiful Japanese egg plants (six of these exquisite veggies for $1 – incredible rubbed in olive oil and grilled) and heads over from Ider, Ala.
Mrs. Moore greets me so warmly I wonder if I know her, but soon realize that's the lovely way she speaks to everyone who walks by the bed of her truck. Heaped with plum tomatoes, yellow squash, green beans, potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and Better Boy tomatoes, she points out the pints of blueberries were picked that morning by her grandchildren.
Dodie and Daniel Collier drive over from Slygo and offer the banana bread, potato bread (made from Mrs. Moore's potatoes), pumpkin muffins ($1 each), cheddar jalepeno bread they baked earlier, and cheerfully gives out samples of each. I had to try the pumpkin muffin, and would have tried a banana nut muffin but they sold out bright and early, before 9:15. It was moist and flavorful and downright decadent! Best buck I've spent in a while.
Tony Rush has the market on tomatoes in my opinion. They are ridiculously incredible! Huge and flavorful, one thick slice covers an entire piece of bread and is bursting with flavor. I almost hate to detract from them with bread, mayo and meat; each bite is like a little summer party in your mouth. Of course, I haven't tried the other tomatoes, but plan on sampling from other trucks this Saturday. Tony's red peppers are oversized and so deep a red you want to bite into them the way you would an apple.
Did I mention okra? Zap it for a minute in the microwave, rub it with a little olive oil and grill it Canyon Grill style for a real delicacy. More recipes are in the seasonal series of cookbooks, Gaining Ground, which focus on the fruits and veggies that are ripe locally. These beautiful booklets are free, and given out at the market. But the photographs are so gorgeous and the recipes so enticing and nutritious, I feel like they should be expensive 'coffee table' books.
Check this market out on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. But if you want a banana nut muffin, or that sweet corn, you better be in the parking lot by 8:30 a.m.