September is Farmer's Market Month

By Kathleen Shannon

September is Farmer’s Market Month and if you’re not yet taking advantage of all the fabulous Lehigh Valley grown produce that’s available, now’s the time to get out and buy some. Local produce has so many advantages over store-bought products – the taste is better, it’s fresher, it supports the local economy, it’s good for the environment – and it’s easy to find.

September brings the widest variety of Pennsylvania produce – virtually everything grown is now in peak season. A sensational meal for your family of tomatoes, corn on the cob and cantaloupe will cost only $6 – $10, and the lack of meat for a change of pace is a major plus, even if you’re not a vegetarian.

Consumer tastes have been changing over the past decade and local farmer’s markets are experiencing a bonanza in sales volume.  People are leery of chemical and pesticide laden produce, some from the U.S., some from overseas.

Eric Ruth of the Kellyn Foundation, a new local non-profit focusing on health and wellness issues, believes farmer’s markets are part of a social movement towards healthier foods. “It is a social movement focusing on healthy lifestyles in ways that are natural to our mind and body,” Ruth said. “What you have occurring are diverse groups, some working independently, some beginning to work together,  for a common higher goal of living a healthy lifestyle.”In the Lehigh Valley, farmer’s markets partner produce sales with entertainment and educational programs that are family friendly.

Easton’s Farmers Market on Centre Square is the oldest continuing farmer’s market in the United States, dating back to 1756.  Open Saturdays May through November from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the market will host its annual Chili Pepper Festival on September 22.

The market has strong community support for the 40 regular vendors and was a 2011 pick of the Farmer’s Market Coalition; it was one of 12 farmer’s markets nationwide honored by the coalition as “outstanding.”

Over at SteelStacks in southside Bethlehem, the newbie farmer’s market is having a major impact on the Valley. Open Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m., there are ongoing family activities throughout the market season:  music, cooking demos and cookbook exchanges.

While you’re scoping out produce, don’t forget the wonderful homemade breads most farmer’s markets have. At SteelStacks, Karen’s Sweets of Waldheim Road in Bethlehem offers rye, whole wheat, raisin, garlic & herb breads along with cookies and cakes.

Down Route 309 is the Coopersburg Farmer’s Market on Main Street.  Open Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., May through October, vegan and gluten free prepared foods are available – soups, stews and much more, along with fresh ice cream and handmade soaps. And, don’t forget eggs.

The largest event of the growing season takes place in Coopersburg Sunday, September 30 beginning at noon at Lutron Electronics on Suter Road.  “A Celebration of Local Food and Farms” – formerly “Taste of the Lehigh Valley” – is a fundraiser for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chapter of Buy Fresh, Buy Local (BFBL).

Lynn Prior, a BFBL chapter representative, said, “We have made a few changes to the event this year.  By moving to Lutron, we have more space to showcase local farms as well as restaurants.  Many of our farm partners will be joining us with samples of their products.  There will also be four individual tasting rooms for local foods, such as a cheese-tasting room and a room to try different apple varieties.”

And she added, “Similar to last year, we will have guest judges, including Diane Stoneback of The Morning Call, evaluating the menu items, and prizes and a trophy will be awarded.  There will also be a People’s Choice Award.”

Featured are local restaurants with sampling items that contains at least two locally-grown ingredients, including main proteins. Some participating restaurants are Café Santosha, Glasbern, Sette Luna, Maxim’s 22, Balasiame,  Hotel Bethlehem and Weaversville Inn, among others. Many of the 109 local farms and 16 farmer’s markets of BFBL will be supplying restaurants with ingredients.

Buy Fresh, Buy Local has been active since 2002 as part of Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, which started in 1992. The state is divided into geographical regions, and each region has local chapters.  Our eastern region has thirteen chapters, including the Greater Lehigh Valley Buy Fresh, Buy Local.

And to round out the month, and welcome fall, the Rodale Institute in Kutztown will have an Organic Apple Festival September 22 from 10 a.m. rill 5 p.m.  Bring the family and neighborhood children to pick apples and sample organic food. For a comprehensive list of area farms and farmer’s markets, see

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