I went to the farmer’s market in Monument Square in Portland Maine four times today.  Vendors are teeming the square from 9 to 2 and I managed walk by all of them almost every hour. It wasn’t hard to find excuses to pass through (and subsequently fill my sailcloth bag full) the bustling crowd and feast for the senses, and the vendors definitely started to smile in recognition as I wandered. . .

New potatoes, bunches of crunchy white turnips, red onions and fragrant dill for a German potato salad, ears of corn piled high that would create appetizer sized corncakes for Friday’s dinner with friends, to be topped with freshly made salsa from huge and beautifully disfigured heirloom tomatoes, huge white onions, and the most spicy smelling bouquets of cilantro that filled my nose.  Everything filled my nose in the most intermingling and sensual way ever.  The freshly cut flowers were no more pretty than the bouquets of kale, multi-colored and candy-like carrots, baskets of blueberries and heads of purple, green and oblong Napa cabbage.

Among the screen-printed t-shirts, vintage looking created-while-you-wait tin photos, I found buried treasure in the very center of the throngs, gluten free brownies, roughly packaged, with hardened pan-edges (which have always been my favorite pieces!), made by special needs kids that were the honestly the best I’d ever had.  I have to avoid wheat and these were an incredible melty, chocolately mouthful. They had vegan and regular cookies as well, something for everyone, with simple hand-written ingredient index cards on the table and I actually went back for a second one to take on my afternoon travels to a friend’s lakeside camp, two hours out of the city.  They all chorused loudly “thank you” and my corn spilled from the bag as I tried to fit one more thing in.  I’m actually a little glad that they don’t go to the Deering Oaks Saturday market because I don’t think I have the willpower to keep them for an occasional treat.

There was music, homemade gelato, open doors to the nearby restaurants, galleries and public market, and everyone’s arms, bags and boxes were brimming with their caches of fresh off the farm bounty.  I never see one frown on a face there, and it’s a mix of every possible segment of Portland’s community, co-mingling and sharing in the abundant nourishment of our country’s lifeblood, farms.

I read this somewhere: “If you’ve got all the good ingredients and if you do things at the right time, a dish will come together at the end.  So it is with gardening, where you prepare the soil right, you make sure there’s plenty of compost, you look after your plant and take the weeds out.  It’s pretty simple, really.  It’s just about creating the right environment for it to thrive.”  Rodney Dunn of the Agrarian Kitchen

I feel the same about Portland and it’s support of the twice a week farmer’s markets. . .it’s always a blissful Wednesday and Saturday here.