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After an intense four days in NYC, followed by another 4 in LA, the farmer’s market was the perfect detox. Nothing like fresh air, fall leaves, strong coffee, and baskets of produce to welcome me back home.

The Lent’s International Farmer’s Market near my house has shut down for the season, but the Saturday Farmer’s Market at PSU is still going strong. I arrived early in a partial caffeinated daze expecting to see only a few stalls with beets and kale, but I was pleasantly surprised. The market was buzzing just as much as it does in the summer. There was a huge variety of produce available: tomatoes, potatoes, collards, broccoli, peppers, artichokes, etc.

The flower stalls were still in strong force as well with dinner-plate dahlias, calla lilies, and this awesome vine called bittersweet. I’ve seen it used in some great, simple fall floral arrangements. They had a huge selection of calla lily colors as well – some I had never seen before.

I did a good job of steering clear of the bulb lady. After my bulb bonanza a couple weeks ago, the last thing I really need right now is more bulbs to plant. It pains me though in my heart a little to not even buy just one little bulb…

It was a great chance to figure out what it’s still possible to be growing in our area. The tomatoes and eggplants I was a little suspicious of – they must be doing something to keep them extra warm. Perhaps they are growing in a greenhouse. But it was refreshing none the less to see them rolling around with the other offerings. I felt like a bit of a slacker though, since I had all the best intentions of keeping a year-round garden. After the summer, I just didn’t have the motivation to get the brussel sprouts, kale, etc out of their seed packets.

I also steered clear of the different cheese creameries that were at the market. I have eaten way too well over the last week to even tempt myself to consume more cheese. Perhaps next weekend? I had no idea the Saturday PSU Market went so late into the season! They go all the way through December, then shut down until April.

If I find some extra time, I would like to gather some recipes using local mushrooms. I haven’t done too much cooking with them, but I see them all the time at the markets. Does it ruin the flavor to cook them? Should I dry them and cook with them that way? It’s like drinking fabulous wine when you don’t know anything about wine – kind of makes you feel like the experience is getting wasted on you.

Also, the mushroom guy was selling jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes. I asked him what time of year you plant them and he said Fall. Is that right? I thought it was Spring, so I didn’t buy any from him.

Oh, and gourds. Okay, I stayed away from the bulb-lady and the cheese-makers. I couldn’t possibly also stay away from the fabulous gourds. Even though we have about 20 on our porch already, how could I pass this guy up? I am going to cut him up after Thanksgiving and save the seeds – I would love to have this growing in my garden next year.

This weekend has been absolutely gorgeous! The temperature is a little brisk, but the sun is shining without a cloud in the sky. I am going on a cardboard hunt later today in preparation of the Great Sheet Mulching 2007. Then a long bike ride later to work off some of that fabulous food from my travels.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson