20170507-8409A popular spring weekend outing The idea of farm to table is increasingly popular for restaurants to advertise. But why go out to dinner, when you can have your own farm to table at home by visiting your local farmer's market? Here in Collin County, we have a wealth of farmer markets, with a great variety of vendors and unique settings. On a recent tour of markets, we had the opportunity to visit many of them and talk with the people who make the offered products, which go beyond just fruits and vegetables. In addition to beautiful food, you can find some great gifts including your choice of bath products, a variety of honey items, and beautiful jewelry. The best part? I loved talking to the people who made the products and hearing their stories, passion, and explanations of what I was buying.
For some, this is a side business outside a full-time job or in addition to their farming. At the McKinney's Adriatic Market, I enjoyed meeting Kyle Hoyle, who told us that when he couldn't find a summer job while in high school, his grandfather suggested he revive his recipe for olive salad and sell it at the markets. So, he did and now Delicious Delights (https://www.ddolivesalad.com) has expanded their line with new recipes from Granddad. Kyle was at two of the markets we visited and hopes to grow the business after he finishes college.
20170511-8489Delicious choices from Delicious Delights.
We also met Jim Cable, a knife sharpener who told us that he had a full time job in addition to his small farm, but was unhappy with his job. His wife pushed him to think of what else he could do or what talents he had. Having learned how to sharpen knives as a boy, he decided to build a side business and now has multiple restaurant accounts in addition to his regular customers. We were excited to see him again at the Melissa Market since we remembered to bring our knives! Not only were we thrilled to get our knives restaurant sharp, but we also had a chance to meet his family, who were operating another booth selling eggs from their Canticle Farm and goat milk soaps that Heather, his wife, made. The friendliness of the vendors makes it feel more personal and you can build some great connections as well as a better understanding of your products.
20170511-8508Jim Cable sharpening a pocket knife on his wheel.
The Plano market is the newest, having just started in April, and is still gaining momentum. Located in a parking lot near City Hall, it was convenient and the only one open on a Sunday. It included two farms with produce and one with meat as well as many food products and some lovely art including a booth selling artisan handbags and one with jewelry. Designs by Debbie offers unique jewelry from the friendly Debbie who recently moved to Texas. She uses antique buttons and the symbolic dragonfly in many of her designs, but she also does custom pieces. She told us about a hat band, that she recently made for a customer, who collected silver dimes. When she had some dimes left over, she made earrings for his daughter. 20170507-8372Earrings by Designs by Debbie (semi-preciousstonejewelry.com) 20170507-8399Texas Olive Oil My favorite market was probably Melissa (http://www.cityofmelissa.com/farmersmarket.html), which was the smallest of the markets and the only one that included an indoor area. I loved the community feel at this market as all the vendors seemed to know their customers and several of the booths were run by families, like the folks at Cross My Heart Pies, which sold yummy mini-pies, and the already mentioned Canticle Farm. We also got some great lessons here by the folks at The Horseshoe Farm, which sold grain-fed meats, about their farm and by a very friendly beekeeper who gave us a great lesson on local honey versus store bought honey. Russell at Crooked Creek Honey Farm was fascinating and now has me enjoying honey to fight my allergies!
The market in Frisco, which is run by the Rotary Club (http://friscorotaryfarmersmarket.com), had several farm stands as well as a very friendly group, lead by "Big Boss" Scott from K Bar K Farm selling meat. This market also was the first we had seen with a gluten-free bakery stand and a vendor selling hemp products. Rev. Elkwood was very willing to share her knowledge about hemp and its status as Mother Nature's Perfect Product.
McKinney has two markets - one at the Adriatic area and one at Chestnut Square, which is the largest and busiest market. The Adriatic is still growing and has a great location in a grassy area by the water. Chestnut Square is set in the historic park area with lots of shade and grass. It 20170511-8536Cornerstone items for sale also had a very large crowd and small parking lot, which caused a lot of circling cars waiting for a spot. Luckily, the customers turn over quickly so you could find one relatively fast. We saw many of the vendors from Adriatic there and met a wonderful group from Cornerstone Ranch, a program helping adults with disabilities. The residents and counselors were on site selling their beautiful artwork! At this market, you could buy lunch from one farm that was grilling. A lemonade stand might be a good addition. This market also had activities for kids including goats and a pony ride. On the unique item side, we visited a couple selling balls made of alpaca wool, which replace dryer sheets and are better for the environment. Based on our recent load of laundry, we can concur that it reduces static!
We didn’t make it to the Celina Market as it is only once a month, but we plan to try it in June. This one is on Friday night and includes music and wine so I am sure we will love it! I highly recommend visiting your local farmer's market and maybe even visiting one in another part of Collin County. It is great fun with wonderful items to buy, plus so special to meet the people making it and see their passion for what they do!