See Debbie on NBC-17 and at farmers market, too

I just got back from carrying a lovely tray of deviled eggs to NBC-17 in Raleigh, N.C., where it and I will be featured on the new local show, My Carolina Today. The segment with host Valonda Calloway will be shown Thursday, April 1, at 11 a.m.

Don’t forget to come out to the spring opening for the Wake Forest Farmers Market this Saturday, April 3. I’ll be there, selling and signing cookbooks, and offering samples of deviled eggs, of course. I’ll be at the market in downtown Wake Forest, N.C. from 9 a.m. to noon.

Spring into farmers markets

The Western Wake Farmers Market in Cary, N.C. has a big celebration planned for its spring opening on April 3.  Chef Ricky Moore of Giorgio Restaurant in Cary will share samples of Goat Cheese-Lavender Fritters with Local Honey, there will be information on starting community gardens, face painting for the kids and live music.

The market will be open each Saturday from April 3 through Nov. 20, 8 a.m. to noon, at 1226 Morrisville-Carpenter Road, Cary. The growers/producers only market sells goods made within 125 miles. For more information, check the web site.

Bounty at the Brickyard

One of the area’s newer farmers markets was designed by and for students and IMG_0612faculty at N.C. State University, but it’s a great resource for nearby residents, too. The Campus Farmers Market operates each Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Brickyard at the D.H. Hill Library. The market opened on April 22. The fall session of the market runs Sept. 2 through Nov. 18. Plans are for the market to operate year-round in the future.

All items sold are locally produced. The varying offerings usually include produce, meats, eggs, dairy products and soaps. Of special interest to me is the weekly bounty of North Carolina seafood from Southport Seafood, which also sells at other area farmers markets. I do love me some good Carolina shrimp.

Since the market was organized by the young folks, you can find it on Facebook and Twitter. You can sign up at the Facebook page for weekly updates about what’s available at the market. The only thing that would be better for me would be if they sold parking spaces at the market, but I’ll make the prowl.

Have you hugged your farmer this week?

Visit your favorite farmers market this weekend and give those folks growing the goodies extra smiles – it’s National Farmers Market Week (so proclaimed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture).

I always arrive home from a trip to the State Farmers Market in Raleigh with way more vegetables than you’d think two carnivores could consume. But the Neon eggplant is such a gorgeous violet (purple is my favorite color). Just one more quart of blueberries for the freezer. And stacks of fresh corn as high an an elephant’s eye.

There are so many markets now, and that’s wonderful. The Western Wake Farmers Market at Carpenter Village is new this year, with more than 30 vendors offering locally produced goods for residents of Morrisville and western Cary. On Saturday, Chef Sarig Agasi of Raleigh’s Zely & Ritz restaurant will offer gazpacho samples. The market’s open from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, so don’t sleep in.

If you’re looking for empanadas of a different filling, visit the Durham Farmers Market and look for Scratch Baking. And pie. ‘Nuff said.

It's easy being a Green Plate Special

I enjoy the Moore Square Farmers Market in downtown Raleigh, but it’s kind of tough for me to get to from my suburban burrow – I have to deal with one-way streets, endless construction and deck parking, all of which I have a low tolerance for. However, for downtown workers and the increasing number of residents, it’s a delightful gift. This will be the fourth year that it has sold pasture-raised meats, organic vegetables, free-range eggs, artisan breads and other goodies from more than 20 vendors. Around July last year, some of my friends who work downtown held a tomato lunch in their office: ‘mater sandwiches using fresh heirloom tomatoes straight from the market. That beats a drive-through anytime.

Good news this year, if you’re as lazy and/or easily annoyed as I am. A number of downtown restaurants will offer Green Plate Specials on the last Wednesday of the month, featuring produce and other items from the market. Scheduled so far are Zely & Ritz (April 29), Second Empire (May 27), Poole’s Diner (June 24), Jibarra (July 29) and Mo’s Diner (Aug. 26).

The market will open for the season on April 15 and operate each Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. through August. Most of the items are grown or produced within 90 miles of the market. The market is produced by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

In the market for markets?

I love farmers markets. I look for them anywhere I travel, because they provide such a slice of local life along with the food. When I visited Normandy several years ago, I spent the morning in a market in Bayeux that takes over a municipal parking lot once a week. Strings of garlic, sheaves of flowers and cheese – such cheese! – shared space with fresh crabs the size of a VW Beetle and melons with all the perfumes of Araby. At the end of one aisle, children played with rabbits that were not destined to be family pets. Yes, the French take freshness seriously.

I am delighted to see more markets popping up all over the Triangle and North Carolina, especially the ones that focus strongly on local food. Some markets, such as the Carrboro Farmers Market, restrict participation to food produced within 50 miles of the market and sold by the producers, not purchased and resold.

The Growing Small Farms site for the Chatham County office of North Carolina Cooperative Extension has a good list of markets. Find them and visit them. If you don’t care about the much-bandied-about carbon footprint, the food will just taste better, and you’ll get to know the person who grew it. Not to mention that the money you spend (not necessarily more that you’d pay in a supermarket) will stay in the community. Most markets, if not already open, will open in April.

While we’re talking farms, the annual Piedmont Farm Tour, sponsored by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, will be April 24-25. Dozens of small farms in Orange, Chatham and other counties will be open for tours (a great time for kids). The CFSA is also a great resource for farmers markets and CSAs (community supported agriculture farms).

More markets brewing

The stock market may be shaky, but farmers markets are stronger than ever in North Carolina. Comes word of an unusual collaboration. Carolina Brewery near Pittsboro plans to host a new market starting in early May, according to Debbie Roos, Chatham County agricultural extension agent and small farm guru.

The market’s vendors will offer produce, cut flowers, meat and poultry, cheeses, honey and plants. And you’ll be able to get a fine beverage while snacking on your purchases.