Every year on May 1st we go. Opening day. Still in long sleeves and jackets, a cold wind forcing its way across the stalls, we visit the farmer’s market. On the tables there are no fresh-off-the-vine summer tomatoes, no puckering sweet cherries. Even the asparagus isn’t quite ready to let go of its grip to the ground and make its spring debut. But we go. Because in a place that makes no promises that a calendar date will give window to sun-drenched afternoons drinking lemonade, and in fact, there may still be shoveling to do one more time before the month gasps its last, in this place the farmer’s market is a promise.
Summer will be here.
The shovels will make room in the garage for the bicycle. The coat closet will be used for baseball caps and sun hats and even umbrellas, but not gloves and warm coats and snow boots.
Locals mill about excitedly – not necessarily for the plants for sale or catnip mice to buy – but because with every week, there will be more. There will be Brussels sprouts and watermelon, purslane and squash blossoms. There will be kale, and collard greens, and oyster mushrooms. And with that bounty, that ridiculous summer bounty, there will be the bounty that exists in grill outs and pool parties and long, lazy road trips.
The farmer’s market is a promise, as much as we get one, that the days you remember when its frigid and twenty degrees, when summer is so far away you can’t see it with any amount of squinting or praying or forcing under your breath as you heft a waterlogged foot of snow… The farmer’s market is a promise that the best days of the year that you keep under your stocking cap to revive you on the harder days… They are coming.
And then they are here.
With canvas bags at the ready, we pack them tight with every fruit, vegetable, and moment they can carry. Laden and heavy with the burden of blessings, we take them home to drink it in, parched from a long winter’s thirst.
In sandals and a t-shirt, with a freshly scrubbed makeup-less face, I push the stars of summer through the juicer, one by one, squeezing every last drop that I can. I hold it to my mouth and gulp it down and savor every sip. Because it’s summer. And that’s the way it’s done.
This juice was inspired by a trip last month to Ecopolitan, a raw vegan restaurant in Minneapolis. They serve a savory juice called Grandma’s Garden, which is a tomato-based juice with a kick of garlic.
My take on Grandma’s Garden is filled with the kinds of things that load up the farmer’s market stalls in the summer months. It’s mildly sweet without being cloying and easy to gulp down.
I’ve been using young garlic to make it since that’s what’s currently available at the farmer’s market, but cloves of garlic would work equally well. Of course, if you’re not the garlic enthusiast that I am, feel free to omit it altogether.