I always notice a little farmer’s market that I pass every day on my way home from work. It’s about halfway home, in Pineville (Bucks County), PA. I call it a farmer’s market, but it’s really only a shed next to a farmhouse. There’s a sign out at the end of the driveway that says, T&T Market, and sometimes it’s also says, Open. They were open and selling bird seed for a few weeks over the winter. In late July they’re always open.
It was one of those hot and humid days-ninety-some degrees and sticky. I got out of my car, cash in hand, and saw the woman that I’ve seen there many times, hard at work, year after year. She always greets me with a smile. For sale on one of her tables was a huge pile of corn, another table was piled high with sweet-smelling cantaloupes, and another table had tons of what seemed like the biggest tomatoes I’ve ever seen. “Sure is a hot one,” she said, “but that doesn’t matter when you love what you do.” I nodded and picked out a bunch of everything she had. She threw in a couple extra ears of corn with a wink, and helped me load the bags into my car. I’m still thinking about what she said. Gone are the days when most families in Bucks County worked hard to grow much of their own fruits and vegetables. Sounds like stepping back in time.
Preserving the Tradition
One of the best things about summer in Bucks County is the fresh local produce. In addition to having a little garden at home, I always make a point of buying as much as I can from local farmer’s markets. Over the years, though, I’ve noticed that some of those markets are gone. They’re slowly getting a little more difficult to come by. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that Bucks County farmland has experienced a decline of nearly 70 percent during the last 50 years, with only 76,831 acres of farmland remaining in 2002, according to federal statistics. To put it further in perspective, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 1950, 67 percent of Bucks County was farmland, compared to only about 23 percent today, and most of the farms that do remain are grain and cattle farms; not fruits and vegetables.
We are all likely aware of the slow decline in local farming, and although we may consider the change to be inevitable, it’s important to support our local farmers-what’s left of them-as much as we can.
Across the county there are still a few farmers who take pride in producing more than enough to feed their own. A helpful list of many local farmer’s markets is included on the buckscounty.org website. This site lists locations, hours, and specialties. It shows which farms are organic, those that allow you to pick your own, as well as those that sell homemade pickles, jams, and sauerkraut. On the site is also a list of when everything is in season. A couple more of my favorites are the Plumsteadville Grange Farm Market, which has a wide variety of produce, baked and canned goods, fresh flowers, herbs, handmade wooden vases and bowls–they even sometimes have live music! And nothing beats picking your own blackberries at Penn Vermont Fruit Farm!
Instead of stocking up at a local grocery store, support our local farmers by buying their homegrown produce. Not only does it taste great, you’ll be preserving Bucks County’s heritage and tradition.