I really don’t get out enough. Apparently all this time there has been a sweet little farmers’ market going on in historic downtown McKinney, Texas and I didn’t even know it. Today we wandered north at the invitation of our friend Rachel, who recently moved there. Rachel has her own garden in her backyard that made me swoon, with little baby eggplants, and squash, several kinds of onions, beets, garlic, peppers, and all manner of herbs. I’m planning a midnight raid soon. I don’t think she’ll ever figure it out.
We drove the several blocks to Chestnut Square. Rachel described the other great draws of this sweet, gingerbread house community: it is haired over with antique shops and cafes, and people have yard sales all day everyday. What’s not to love about that? The McKinney farmers’ market is a small winding affair that twists its way through a little historic block of buildings. Vendors are scattered about here and there selling everything from home grown tomatoes to fresh pasta, and from handmade jewelry to olive oil.
This is not a one stop farmers’ market like the Dallas Farmer’s market can be, but you can also be sure that the produce didn’t come off a giant truck that was going to Albertson’s grocery store next. The Dallas Farmers’ Market seems to be making strides in its’ local shed. I must say that. But the McKinney market is just a different animal altogether. It is a little community market, with the expected produce, but also with a face painter, a handful of local artists, and a little “general store” with crocheted baby bonnets and lollipops. It made for a great little family outing and, yes, we did hit a few yard sales on the way back to Rachel’s house. I only wish there had been time to hit a few of the antique and junk shops, too.
Lucky Layla Farms – They make fantastic artisanal dairy products including amazing drinkable yogurts and cheeses. They had a refrigerator truck pulled up right by the entrance of the market and people were standing in line to grab one of the 8 or so flavors of drinkable yogurt. It is a great local company.
Texas Olive Ranch – This is one of those things I’d buy just because it has such excellent labels. But it appears to be an excellent product, as well. Everyone should use olive oil that has a cutey red-headed girl in a cowboy hat on the label, right? We have all had enough boring olive oil. I didn’t even know until recently that olives grew in Texas. In addition to olive oil, Texas Olive Ranch has garlic and basil infused oils, as well as some delicious sounding vinegars. I have a respect for all local vendors who are willing to go stand out in the sun and meet and greet us all to make sure we don’t miss out on their product. This olive oil is the next item on my “to try” list. They have a great website with information about their 40,000 olive tree ranch outside of Carrizo Springs
Stephanie’s Premium Bakery – She makes delicious “no sugar added” cookies and muffins. She uses a derivative of beet sugar in her cookies which she said were great for kids and even safer for diabetics because they don’t have as dramatic of a dramatic a glycemic effect as sugar. I didn’t taste one but Ford said they were deee-licious and was pestering her for another round when I intervened.
Round Rock Honey – Did you know there was such a thing as a pollen zone? Well, Texas has a number of them and Dallas and Round Rock, Texas are in the same zone so the honey is still “local”, so to speak. There are a lot of even more “local” honey operations in Dallas, but this looks like a great company. Plus you can order it online and their website has wonderful information on honey and bees and the beautiful wildflowers from which this honey comes.
Good Earth Organic Farm. Everybody was raving about the eggs. I bought some and can’t wait to try them.
I’m sick that I didn’t confirm the name of the bread baker. The loaves were gorgeous and they had many wonderful varieties such as brioche, and croissants. I believe it is the Village Baking Co. I think if I had stopped long at their table, I would have sat on the ground and started eating every single variety. I never would have left. It was wonderful. I hope that someone will let me know if I have the wrong information for this vendor.
There were a lot of great vendors and the list doesn’t include the real stars, the folks who show up in their pick up trucks with their boxes of tomatoes and onions. But it all made for a really lovely morning. If you are anywhere near the metroplex, I’d say take a cooler out there to pack up all of your purcheses and then spend the rest of the Saturday wandering through the shops. It makes for a quiet, slow, small town afternoon, and those are my favorites.
In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, one of the most comprehensive lists of farmers’ markets, not to mention one of the greatest supporters of local food, can be found at Edible Dallas Fort Worth. They have a great quarterly magazine as well as a great website. Check it out.
So, let us all know what your favorite farmers’ market is…we don’t care where you live. I’ve been known to spend vacation mornings at local farmers’ markets so I’d really love to know if you have a great one in your community.
PS…Pitts took many of the best of these photos.