There was good reason for us to venture downtown in Sarasota today (with the temp at 90 degrees). I am writing an article about Peter Burkhard, a wonderful "local" who is the only remaining vendor in the group of vendors who originated the Sarasota Downtown Farmer's Market some thirty years ago. My new freelance writing gig, as a contributing writer for Florida Currents Magazine, is offering all kinds of adventures meeting "neat" people who live around Sarasota.
Last week, I interviewed Peter who is a UF grad with a degree in agriculture "down on the farm" to get acquainted with his lifestyle, philosophy of living and of course, to experience all the interesting things growing on his property.
Peter started farming during his college days and since 1990 has worked a one-acre plot of land just north of Sarasota where his home, fully powered by solar heat, is also located. The very rich soil on his property (augmented by Peter's skilled gardening abilitiy) is lush with papaya and banana trees and hosts garden plots (sparse now during the summer off-season) of peppers, white sweet potatoes, tomato and herb plants and an area buzzing with bee hives.
His four bee hives produce hundreds of pounds of palmetto and wildflower honey which he sells at the downtown market. A peach orchard is gradually replacing areas where the old citrus trees are dying. (I'll mention I have successfully utilized the allergy reducing benefits of eating honey produced in the locale where you live.)
We (dear husband and I) haven't been to the downtown Saturday market for a long time. For years before we moved here it was one of the highlights for me when visiting and working in downtown Sarasota. During all those years we did the outdoor art shows here, crack-of-dawn visits to the farmers' market (before the art show started) were always highly anticipated.
Well, today, trekking downtown to get pictures of Peter working at his market stand has gotten me hooked on going to the market again. The trick for survival is to have your husband go in his power chair to carry all your purchases and then to take a break under an umbrella in the shade (just like in front of the cafes in Paris - well, sort of) for coffee and an egg-and-bacon sandwich while listening to live musicians perform.
There were many vendors out, dispite the heat and it being off-season, and their offerings were superb. I did myself and our "larder" proud!
Today's cache included the ingredients (all in a mesh bag, packed in ice) for a "lobster boil" dinner with lobster tails, scallops, mussels, corn, sausage and the seasonings to steam it all in when at home. I opened the carton of free-range eggs purchased and was surprised with an Aracauna egg with a lovely pale blue shell. I bought fresh basil pesto pasta for another evening this week along with a pot of fresh basil (from Peter) to add to the "heat sufferin" ones in our home garden. That's all I am telling about now.