Meet me at the market

Published 9:00 pm Friday, October 1, 2010

I grew up in mostly urban areas, so upon moving to a rural area in western Virginia I was shocked when my mom decided to start a vegetable garden to learn that you could actually grow fruits and vegetables in your own backyard.

That spring we tilled an area of our backyard, planted everything from watermelons to zucchini and waited. I spent a month or so incredulous as I watched green things sprout out of the ground. But I was most excited when I saw little green orbs appear on our tomato plants.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a slight obsession with tomatoes. I’ll eat anything with tomatoes in it – except ketchup; I loathe ketchup. But I have been known to eat a tomato like it’s an apple. And that’s just what I did, when the first of our tomato crop changed to the right shade of fire-engine red.

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After a lifetime of store-bought tomatoes, that one homegrown tomato was a revelation. It made me realize that those “tomatoes” you buy at the grocery store really aren’t tomatoes. There’s just something delicious about tomatoes that are consumed after ripening on the vine and making a short trip from your backyard to your kitchen that puts the store-bought versions to shame.

But all good things come to an end. I moved away from home and now all my tomatoes are purchased in grocery stores. And they are all sad ghosts of those perfect tomatoes I had access to at my mom’s house.

I know what you’re thinking. I know there are a wide variety of farmers’ markets in the area where I can get straight-from-the-vine tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables. In fact I drive by the site of the Suffolk Farmers’ Market on Main Street every day on my way to work. Unfortunately the days that the market is open are also the days that I have off.

So it was with great excitement that I looked forward to last Wednesday, when I would be covering a shift for my co-page designer as he enjoys his well-deserved vacation. My plan was to head to work early and swing by the Farmers’ Market on what I thought was one of the last days it would be held this year. What can I say? I’m a procrastinator.

But the weather had other plans. As I drove down Main Street I could barely see the familiar sign through the torrential downpour. I knew I had missed my last chance to get some of the produce that Suffolk’s farms are so famous for.

Thankfully I was wrong. Due to this season’s success, the city has decided to extend the Suffolk’s Farmers’ Market through the fall, giving my fellow procrastinators and I a chance to support our local farmers and enjoy some delicious produce. Don’t miss your chance to taste the difference between farm produce and the store-bought fruits and vegetables that pale in comparison.

The Suffolk Farmers’ Market on Main Street is open Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. I hope I’ll see you there.