One day, my stepfather came over for a visit. As I walked outside to greet him, I noticed his unloading gardening tools from his pickup truck.
“Um, what are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m about to plant a tomato garden for you,” he said as he breezed past me towards the backyard.
Before I could stop him, he was digging holes in my lawn and planting seeds.
“You’re wasting your effort,” I said trying to dissuade him. “I’m not a gardener. Those plants are going to die.” He ignored my pleas and continued planting.
A few weeks later, he stopped by to check on the plants.
“Have you been watering them?” he asked.
“I haven’t watered the plants because they are dead. Just as I warned you,” I said.
He sighed, shook his head, and walked to the backyard to mourn the tragic loss of the young tomato plants.
I know that my stepdad was only trying to be helpful because he knows how much I love fresh tomatoes. But I only like the eating part, not the growing part. I rely on the experts to handle the planting and harvesting. That’s why I frequent Farmer’s Markets.
My grandfather was a farmer and I enjoy talking to the vendors and hearing their passion for growing and producing natural, fresh foods.
On my last trip to the market, I met Sara Vela, owner of Vela Farms. She makes delicious jellies with unique flavors such as jalapeño, sweet tea, and red wine.
“I’ve been canning for 25 years,” she said. “All of my recipes are based on Texas flavors and are 100 percent pure without any additives. People love the spicier varieties.”
I can understand why. I sampled some of the Ginger Habanero Jelly and became an instant fan.
As I continued my stroll through the market, I noticed a table covered with beautifully designed bags of pasta and I had to check it out.
I talked to owner, Luisa Jones about why she started Della Casa.
“I’m a mother and I couldn’t find any good, natural food for my kids in the supermarket,” said Luisa Jones. “I started making homemade pasta for them to eat and they loved it. My business grew out of my desire to feed my family right.”
After sampling the the Portobello and Shiitake Mushroom Ravioli, I wanted to ask her to adopt me into her family so I could partake in this scrumptious pasta every night.
Just as I was preparing to leave the market, a lady with curly hair and overalls beckoned me to her booth.
“You wanna make some pickles?” she asked.
“Of course,” I said. “Pickles are my favorite.” She guided me through the process of making dill and bread and butter pickles. Now making pickles is my new favorite.
By the end of my visit, my haul included homemade pickles, a honeydew melon, a watermelon, fresh eggs, local honey, and some cucumbers. But my biggest score was a sack full of sweet tomatoes.
I think I’ll invite my stepdad over for a Caprese salad. It’s the least I could do to repay him for the dead tomato plants.