What a beautiful spring day in Cumberland Valley to celebrate the grand re-opening of this special
Farmers Market on the Square in Carlisle. In its 6th year, the market was bustling with shoppers in straw hats, children with their sunscreen and floppy beach hats, music, and smoky whiffs of BBQ chicken and wood-fired pizzas. Fresh produce, grass fed meats, fresh local eggs and cheeses, hummus in more flavors than you think would be possible, jams and honey, just ground spices and rubs, sauces, breads, huge bouquets of spring tulips and lilac, and donuts oozing with that sugary goodness as they were being glazed.

Farmers markets are a step back in time, when things were simpler – eating fresh and in-season and enjoying the joy of the bounty that our landscape produces for us. All these vendors come from within 50 miles of Carlisle and you get to meet and talk to the producers directly. You get to support a local farmer directly with your eating. And it’s so much fun to shop and talk to other shoppers or the farmers and vendors.

While shopping, I met Chef Jeff from 1794 Whiskey Rebellion buying crates of apples from his local supplier. Here’s a picture of him and a helper schlepping his own apples and supplies to his kitchen. I learned that Chef Jeff will be doing a cooking demonstration at next week’s market – he has plans to do this throughout the season. So not only can you buy your supplies at the market, but you can be inspired with some new recipes and techniques directly from the source.

This market continues to grow and some of our producers and farmers are new or have expanded. Keswick Creamery has expanded and now offers grilled cheese sandwiches in addition to their full array of delicious cheeses. Dickinson College Farm stand has expanded to include hand-made wood fired pizzas, topped with locally sourced cheese and produce from the farm. As the season evolves, they will be offering juices and soups and salads in addition to the pizzas and fresh produce. Gettysburg Creamery will be adding ice-cream. Peters Orchards is new this year and they had a great assortment of apples, cider and apple butter. Can’t wait for peach season to arrive.

The mainstay of grilled chicken which fills the market air has also added sausages. Lavender will arrive when in season. Roots still has their bountiful bouquets of just picked and arranged works of art to take home. These aren’t just special bouquet occasion flowers – these are flowers that should help you celebrate every day. Calicutts Spices is new – in-house ground and blended artisan crafted spices in beautiful tin containers for your use or gifting. The one I bought (chipotle honey) got gifted to a friend in the same day! They will be opening their store in Lemoyne by late summer. Until then, will have to get it at this market.

Open every Wednesday, rain or shine, 3 – 7 pm. Plan to sample and graze. Many of the stands have samples and will insist you try before you buy. Come hungry, bring your bag and plan to snack on some delicious flavors, sit on the grass and enjoy the aromas and views of a square filled with happiness. Then shop some more and take some home to share with your loved ones. It’s asparagus season in Cumberland Valley – come-on, unless you are growing your own – you won’t get asparagus any tastier or fresher than these.

-Shireen