Thursday, June 26, 2014

Farmer's Markets "Cornering" The Market


My tomato crop has been lousy this year.  In the six weeks since the first yellow bloom I've harvested two pitiful "early girls".    So, since I'm a huge fan of fresh tomatoes, and fresh eggs, I began searching out the local farmer's markets.  

Yep...we've got one here in Sun City.  SC makes their huge parking lot available to vendors at our biggest recreation center.  So I checked the Sun City Farmer's Market online and they boasted of having dozens of local fresh produce and dairy vendors, advised everybody to bring a rolling suitcase to house all your purchased goodies, and to come early for the best deals.

So, I saddled up and motored up the the grand Sun City Farmer's Market.  As soon as I pulled into the parking lot ten minutes before their scheduled start time, I noted there were five vendors there.  What a let down...but since I'm already there I saunter over to see the limited wares.  The first table was manned by a smiling Black lady who had one product to offer; a huge pot of Kale.  Not being wowed by this trendy new green, I moved on to the next table.  The fella had a table laden with a variety of breads as well as small containers of various pastries.  The bread was $5.50 for a small loaf and the personal-sized pastries were going for $5 bucks a piece.

So me and my tissue thin wallet moved on to the next table.  A fella was selling fresh tomatoes...right up my alley.  So, making the fatal mistake of not asking the price, I asked for a pound of his "Early Girls".  He grabbed four small tomatoes, no larger than a small lemon, weighed them, and smilingly demanded $5.50 for that pound of tomatoes.  Like a doofus, I paid up and turned to the fourth vendor.  They were selling bratwurst steaming in a pot, but I didn't pursue $5.50 for a miserable little pound of tomatoes I figured I'd have to take out a second mortgage to afford one of those bratwursts.

As I left the one remaining table featured a few five pound bags of oranges, fruit so pitiful I normally discard them as culls when I harvest mine.  Oh, the vendor also had a few pint jars of honey he was asking $25 bucks a piece for.  I sighed and walked out of the grand farmer's market, carefully cradling my tomatoes that cost me more than a pound of top sirloin.

That was on Thursday morning.  So on Friday I set out for Sprouts, our local franchised healthy eating and produce store.  I went in, bought a dozen organic and cage free and hormone free eggs for $3 bucks and a jar of raspberry jam, also for three George Washingtons.  

I then drove up the road aways, to Wildflower Bread company and bought two loaves of fresh whole grain bread, still warm from the oven, at $3.49 for generously sized loaves.

So, pardon me, but I'm a bit puzzled how those farmer's market vendors, given free selling space, and free of labor costs, or overhead, can find it within their conscience to market to old people living off their social security or fixed pension....and demanding an arm and a leg for their wares.

So, in the future, I'll start harking back to my Cherokee ancestors and do a "harvest dance" over my tomato crop, and I'll buy my eggs at Sprouts and my bread at Wildflower Bread Company...and leave the farmer's market free to screw anyone but me.


Anonymous said...

Do yourself a favor next year. Take off all early blooms from your tomato plants. They will grow larger as the plant scales back on growth when tomatoes set. Let them grow to at least three feet(3 1/2 even) before letting any flowers stay and pollinate. You'll have much larger/healthier plants and with many more tomatoes setting. 2 of the last three years, people have been complaining about lousy tomatoes while mine have been wonderful.

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks for the tip, anon...I've got fairly large plant that still has only the blooms...I'm going to pull them off and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and one more thing. With a shortage of honey bees, pollination is erratic at best. I pollinate my own tomatoes. That's right. Just gently grab the flowers and rub the pistils together. That way you can control the number of tomatoes you want per plant.

A Modest Scribler said...

I have plenty of honey bees around my yard, anon...have lots of flowers that attract them.