Farmers’ markets have gained popularity in recent years for a number of reasons. Primarily, people are becoming increasingly interested in health, flavor, the benefits of eating fresh, local food, as well as supporting local farmers. To us, equally important is that of creating community. The Hayground School Farmers’ Market, now in its fifth year, strives to make community a major focus of our mission.
The market was founded in 2009 by Jon Snow of the Hayground School to create a venue for kids to learn and sell produce and seedlings grown in the school’s garden. As leaders of the East End chapter of Slow Food USA, we had been involved in raising funds for the school to build their own greenhouse and the idea for the market naturally followed. Implementing the values and vision espoused by the Slow Food movement, such as encouraging school gardens and locally raised food as a catalyst for community sustainability would coalesce in the form of the farmers’ market.
Our idea was to have an afternoon market, when folks would be more likely to linger and socialize as well as shop for fresh, local food, and other products. We chose Friday because with the weekend just beginning, people tend to be in a relaxed, celebratory mood. We set up picnic tables to encourage folks to settle in and enjoy the experience. Who doesn’t love eating outdoors?!
Once the concept came to fruition, we reached out to like-minded fisherman, farmers, vintners, and other local producers. There were 10 venders our first year. The market has grown steadily, reflecting the trend towards producers selling directly to customers, to the current 28 participants. A trend we like to see.
On Fridays, the market has become the ”summer town square” of Bridgehampton. Community groups are encouraged to have a presence, such as the League of Women Voters and Project Hope. We add extra attractions as much as possible, whether live music, a reading by a local author or a talk, by a local resident with a local story, like raising chickens at home.
Numerous families with children of all ages bring blankets for an impromptu picnic. Kids and dogs are everywhere; friends meet and have long conversations. People chat with vendors about how their product is made and ideas on how to cook with it. In the technological world we live in, the personal experience encountered at the farmers’ market is something people crave and we proudly create.
One of the most popular draws of the Hayground School Farmers Market is the mobile wood-burning pizza oven, an integral (and delicious!) part of the school’s culinary program.
Hayground’s students are very involved with the market, as we had hoped. They have their own cart of produce, seedlings, and treats made in the school kitchen, such as pesto and hummus. Under Jon Snow’s guidance, the kids oversee the entire cycle, from planting and caring for greenhouse and garden plants on-site to eating them for school and camp lunches, selling them at the market, and of course, supplying pizza toppings. Ask one of the kids at the Hayground cart for a tour of the gardens. It’s wonderful to see how much they care and know about the process. It’s important in today’s world that kids know where food comes from.
So, what’s in season now? All kinds of lettuces and greens, blackberries, cucumbers, carrots, beans, beets, broccoli, corn, fennel, garlic, peas, potatoes, summer squash, tomatoes and more! Here’s a great recipe to use as a grilled meat or fish topping, in pasta, salads, or on toast with fresh cheese:
Red & Yellow Cherry Tomato Confit
- 1 pint red cherry tomatoes, stemmed and washed
- 1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes, stemmed and washed
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- Course sea salt
- Fresh-ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper. Toss and bake until tomatoes are wrinkled and fragrant, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan. Refrigerate up to a week.
One Healthy Breakdown: A farmers’ market, community gathering, and Friday night dinner, it’s all going on every Friday at Hayground!