Garden Vegetable Stands: Country Charm and History

As the garden season picks up you may notice fruit and vegetable stands opening. I grow as much of my own produce in the warmer months as possible but it’s impossible to grow it all, so fruit and vegetable stands become one of my favorite stops in the summer.

In my Warren County area there are two local garden markets, numerous small roadside markets and often times neighbors will just set out their extra produce for sale or for free.

On top of fresh garden produce you often have more organically grown produce. I always ask to see if they use many chemicals in the gardens and yards. I personally do not use any chemicals in my yard or on my garden produce.

One other plus for stopping at a roadside garden stand is it usually leads to a story and a piece of local history you may have never heard before.

My brother’s roadside stand

Living on Rt 62 that connects Pennsylvania and New York has certain advantages. One is that if you decide to offer a service or product you have instant traffic.

For a while I lived in North Carolina. During this time my one brother decided to farm and raise garden produce in the summer and pumpkins in the fall. I heard stories of this but did not feel the full impact until I returned home to six hay wagons filled with pumpkins, pumpkins all over the yard and painted figurines placed playfully in the rolling yard.

One morning Iwoke to see the fog rolling off the Conewango creek. The pumpkins caught the first rays of the sun and took on a florescent glow that shimmered in the yard. Roaming casually among the wooden figurines were three deer. The deer began to visit the yard each morning at sunrise. They didn’t do any damage and were fun to watch so we left them alone.

The vegetable stand had many pluses and minuses. It was way more work than a person would think and time consuming but I did meet some interesting people.

Garden Art: The Corn Stalk Horse.

One year my brother fashioned a corn stalk horse. He welded a frame of metal in a rough shape of a horse and tied on corm stalks until it took on a look of a horse. It was an all day event with his children and the rest of the family pitching in to help and laugh. When it was completed he placed it in front of one of the hay wagons and placed a scarecrow on the horse. Of course the scarecrow was headless and head a pumpkin in its hands with a face and hat.

The horse attracted much attention and many people stopped to take a closer look. One day joking around I told the one lady to be careful, that it would bite. Unfortunately she took me seriously and would not go anywhere near the stuffed horse figure. After the garden stand closed my brother too the corn stalk horse to his property. Many people drove up the dirt road the take a look at this strange horse.

People brought their children here for years to buy pumpkins. I saw children grow up in the neighborhood and each year they looked forward to buying their pumpkins at the Grant barn. The parents who grew up in the area would tell me stories of the property in the past as their children picked out the “Perfect Pumpkin.”

One story was that the property once had a cider mill near the barn. I knew that the land had well over 300 apple trees but a cider mill was information I did not know before.  I also heard about the small shed that sat near the house where the neighbors would gather around a fire in the shed in late fall to crack hickory nuts on the anvil and tell stories of the days events.

So stop by your local farm stands and get to know the people. You will find wholesome produce and more than likely hear stories of the area.

Tags: local farm stands, fresh produce, local history

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