People in Bucks County are spoiled. You heard me right. Spoiled.
My sister lives in England, in the Cotswolds. It is green, lush and beautiful, like Bucks County in many ways. She lives in a small – and I mean small – village with farms all around. I once asked her what her neighbor farmers produced. “Livestock, dairy, some crops,” she said. “Can you buy stuff from them?” I asked. Her answer, after a confused pause, was, “Uh, no. It all goes into a regional collective. We can’t buy directly.”
I was stunned. And that’s when it really hit me. I realized how fortunate we are here in Bucks County. Gosh, when corn or pumpkins are in season, you can’t drive a half-mile without seeing a farm stand. Or someone putting their garden’s bounty out by the curb with a small self-serve cash box and a hand-lettered sign.
At this point in my learning curve about local food, I’m also stunned when I meet Bucks County residents who still buy their fruits and veggies from the supermarket at the height of our growing season. Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but truly, the produce does taste better when we buy it locally. Sometimes it costs a bit more, but many times it doesn’t, especially in season. I like meeting the person who has grown the food. I really like knowing I am supporting the local agricultural economy so that we’ll continue to have fresh, local food in the future as well.
Changing shopping habits
Here’s what I discovered last summer. Once you get to know your local farmers’ market – be it a seasonal one, or one of the year-round markets – you start to change your shopping patterns. When I make my grocery list now, I know what I’ll buy at the farmers’ market each week, and what I’ll pick up at the supermarket. My supermarket visits also become more infrequent, which actually saves me money – less impulse buying. In addition to fruits and vegetables, I now buy bread, coffee, meat and cheese at my local farmers’ markets. That pretty much leaves toilet paper and detergent for my monthly visits to Wegmans.
Farmers’ markets everywhere
Seasonal farmers’ markets in Bucks County are growing – no pun intended. This year there will be ten eleven seasonal markets in the county, and more farms are opening up farm stands each year. According to Robin Hoy, executive director of the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance, the number of farmers’ markets in the county selling Bucks County grown and produced products has quadrupled since 2006. Attendance at the Wrightstown Farmers’ Market, one of the busiest, increased 20% just this past year.
Most farmers’ markets in Bucks County are now selling a wide array of goods, all grown or produced in Bucks or nearby. Products like delicious baked goods (including cookies, breads, tomato pies, Stromboli, and Greek pastries); Grass-fed Angus beef, pasture-raised pork, poultry, lamb and rabbit; eggs, cheeses and yogurt from pastured animals; pasta; ice cream; local unprocessed raw honey, maple syrup and beeswax candles; flowers and plants; jams, jellies, condiments and sauces; organic, fair trade, locally roasted coffees; prepared foods, hand-made soaps and lotions, artisan and handcrafted goods, and, of course, locally grown produce.
Many markets now have special events every week that really lend an air of festivity. Local chefs show shoppers how to use seasonal produce to create tasty dishes. Chefs David Zuckerman and Chris Tavares of Earl’s Bucks County in Lahaska will be at the season opening of the New Hope Farmers’ Market this Thursday, May 6th (for more details see list below). The Ottsville Farmers’ Market at Linden Hill Gardens has fun events every week, most geared towards the whole family.
Let’s not forget the great year-round farmers’ markets in Bucks. None Such Farm Market in Buckingham provides meats, cheeses, baked goods, grocery items, plants, and fresh produce from their farm across the street. Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, and at The Market at Delaware Valley College, also offer a wide variety of foods, in addition to fruit and produce from their farm and from the college. The indoor Newtown Farmers’ Market has been a mainstay in Newtown for years, with a diverse group of vendors from Amish, to Middle Eastern, to Asian and Mexican. In Ivyland, Tanners Bros. Dairy Market offers their own meat and dairy products (and ice cream!), and nicely priced produce. Carroll’s Seafood & Produce in Plumsteadville carries produce, milk, and a good selection of fish. Likewise, Bolton’s in Silverdale. In addition to local produce, you can get their fresh, hormone-free, antibiotic-free poultry year-round, raised on their farm adjacent to the store. And as you wind your way up Route 611, stop in at Trauger’s in Kintersville. They carry a huge variety of fruit and vegetables from their 9th generation-owned farm. The most recent year-round indoor market to open is the Stockton Farmers’ Market, open on Saturdays and Sundays in Stockton, NJ. [See our post on the Stockton Market here.]
To find more local farm stands and markets, check out the listing on the Web site of the Penn State Cooperative Extension, Bucks County. It’s organized both alphabetically and by type of product. So if you want to know where you can do “pick-your-own” produce, or who sells locally raised beef, it’s a great resource.
Here’s a listing of seasonal farm markets in Bucks, arranged geographically (going south to north). Most of the markets take place rain or shine. Some have email lists, a great reminder as well as source of what will be selling in the market that week. Click on the name of the market to go to their Web site and get even more information.
- Langhorne Farmers’ Market: Tuesdays 3:00 – 6:30 pm, at the Jesse Soby American Legion Post, 115 W. Richardson Ave. Starting June 28 until October 26.
- Lower Makefield Farmers’ Market: Thursdays 3:30 – 6:30 pm, at Edgewood & Heacock Roads in Yardley. Starting May 20 until October 14.
- Wrightstown Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 9 am – 1 pm, at 2203 2nd Street Pike (next to the Wrightstown Township Municipal Building). Starting May 1 until November 20.
- Warrington Farmers’ Market at Valley Square: the newest market, just opening this year. Fridays from 3 – 6 pm, beginning May 14 (end date TBD). For more information, contact Christie Honigman at email@example.com.
- Doylestown Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 7 am – noon, on Hamilton Ave. near West State St. Starting April 17 until November 20.
- New Hope Farmers’ Market: Thursdays 3:30 – 7 pm, in the parking lot of the New Hope-Solebury High School on 180 N. Bridge St. Beginning May 6 until November 18.
- Plumsteadville Grange Farm Market: Saturdays 9 am – noon, at the Plumsteadville Grange near the intersection of Route 611 and Keller’s Church Rd. Starting May 29 until October 30.
- Ottsville Farmers’ Market at Linden Hill Gardens: Fridays 3 – 7 pm, 8230 Easton Rd. (Rt. 611, between Rt. 113 and 412). Beginning May 28 until October 29.
- Springtown Farmers’ Market: Thursdays 4 – 6 pm, at the Springtown Fire House, 3010 Main St. (Routes 412/212). Starting May 20 until September 30.
- Indian Valley Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, at Penn Ave. and Main St. in Telford. Beginning June 26 until October 16.
Update: Just heard from Joe Ferry in Perkasie – “The Perkasie Farmers Market will return on (Saturday) May 22 after a few years hiatus. We have a great group of vendors lined up, plus some live entertainment and business specials.
It’s all part of ‘Saturday Mornings in Perkasie,’ which will happen on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month through the fall.” Thanks for the info, Joe!