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Robert Noriega, of Noriega Farms, shows off some of his fresh produce at a recent Farmers' Market.

Farm-fresh fare

Published 10:22pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012
The cacophony of color draws you in. But once you’ve been enticed by the yellows and reds and deep greens, then there’s the smell of fresh produce waiting to be thumped, plucked and picked. Come, have a look around.

Suffolk’s downtown farmers’ market has been a fixture since the summer of 2005, and some of the vendors there, like Robert Noriega, above, have been participating ever since it started.

He brings produce to sell at the downtown market in the new pavilion behind the Visitor Center from Noriega Farms, where he raises a variety of crops on a compact four acres.

By now, he’s pretty much got things down to a science. He plants new crops every two or three weeks through the season. The plan helps keep the workload down come harvest time and assures him that he won’t be overloaded with squash or potatoes or green beans at any one time.

Cami Barnes, of JC3 Family Farm, sets out fresh cabbage at the Farmers' Market recently.

“I can bring everything fresh,” he says.

But it’s still hard work — even harder, he admits, than the home improvement business he ran for 37 years.

The farmers’ market gives Cami Barnes, left, of JC3 Family Farm in Suffolk, a chance to lay out a bounteous spread of yellow squash, green corn and cabbage, orange peaches, red potatoes and more onto carefully spread, country-themed tablecloths while her daughter prepares tiny blackboards with the day’s prices.

There’s a feeling that the ladies’ work is carefully rehearsed, and Barnes shows an easy interaction with customers who stop by the booth, even as a storm appears to be blowing in.

“I’m the Jam Lady,” she laughs. “I’m known for my jams and baked breads.”

The Farmers’ Market is open Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m., Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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