Meet three Auburn Farmers Market vendors

Last week, I gave an overview of the Auburn Farmers Market, why I shop there, and why you should, too. I visited with three of the several vendors on site and decided to write a few words about each: folks from a very old farm, one who has been at it for about 10 years and, finally, a newcomer to the truck farmer’s world, a five-year veteran.

Sharon Vitale has been there nearly every day that I have visited the market, from the days it was on Genesee Street across from Nolan’s Shoes, in the parking lot next to the Seward House Museum, and now the parking lot across from Curley’s Restaurant. Sharon and her husband, Ben, farm mainly in Aurelius and Throop. For years and years, their daughter Amanda could be found with her mom nearly every market day all summer, and now their son Adam has joined the business.

Like everyone at the market, they have a wide variety of crops that changes nearly every couple of weeks as new varieties come in and others fade away. This week, highlights are the vine-ripe tomatoes and corn picked a few hours ago. Sharon’s newest venture is to convert excess and fully ripe fruits and berries into some very tasty jams and jellies.

Bob Horsford’s stand is just across the parking lot. Bob has been at the market for about 10 years. His farm is on Jericho Road in Sennett. Bob right now has some really firm, small and tasty zucchini and yellow squash. I have tried his new variety, cue ball. This round squash is lime green in color. Try it on the grill or stuffed with your favorite recipe. I have. There is not a day that you will not find something on that stand that wasn’t there the previous week. I think that Bob just likes to try a few plants of a lot of things. That does make life interesting for Bob and us. Bob also dabbles in flowers. Later this month, he will have nice gladioli in colors you do not often see. His green glads are always outstanding and his sunflowers are, every year, beautiful and a good value.

The last place that really interested me was the stand of our newcomer. Dan Button drives over from Tully on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though he has only been here on Tuesdays for the past couple of weeks. His specialty products tend to ripen a little late in the season. Dan has been farming full-time for just under five years. He runs on about two and a half acres in Tully. And this is the only farmers market that he sells at, but he does provide his specialty produce to a number of restaurants and small grocers in his home area. Last week, he had some lovely bunches of lavender, tomatoes and very tasty garlic, among other things. The difference between fresh and shipped-in garlic is fantastic.

Dan has a most interesting specialty that I find quite fascinating. The majority of what he grows are heirloom varieties. These are the plants that our parents and our grandparents grew. Yes, the seeds are available. At various times during the summer, he will be offering 23 different varieties of tomatoes. Among his favorite veggies are purple kohlrabi, golden beets and several kinds and colors of carrots. This is going to be a very interesting stand to visit.

As you might have gathered from my writing, I love beets. Here is my favorite recipe: After a thorough washing of about a pound and a half, boil them until tender. After they have cooled a bit, peel the skins off. Halve each from top to bottom, lay them on their flat surface and cut into 1/3-inch slices. Now, into the bowl add two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, two of extra virgin olive oil and some black pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. I like to serve them at room temperature.

These are only three of about a dozen vendors at our market, where you will find great locally grown vegetables, delicious fruits and even baked goods from the Bradford Heights Delights bakery. The Auburn market is worth a visit — often.

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