It’s time for Helena Market Days

Helena Market Days opened June 5 at the amphitheater.

Held weekly on Saturdays, 8 a.m.–noon, this event should be a regular stop for those who appreciate fresh and locally-grown seasonal produce. This summer promises a combination of returning vendors plus new additions, a full complement of weekly chef demos and musical entertainment.

New this year is Neil Montgomery of Fresh CSA (Community Sustained Agriculture), who is making the transition to organic farming, using no pesticides, chemicals or hormones in or on any products harvested.

“Mother Nature knows what she is doing,” Montgomery said. “She has given us everything we need to fight off pests and meet a plant’s needs. I may bring a jar of the fertilizer we use to show people, but they will certainly not want to smell it.”

Montgomery will have yellow squash, green tomatoes, cucumbers, rattlesnake beans, plums and possibly blackberries in the early weeks.

Beginning on March 1, he planted his first crop of tomatoes, replanting every three weeks to ensure a crop that will last until the first frost. Currently, he has more than 4,000 plants in the ground and will have Cherokee Purple and Black Krim, a variety that originated in Russia and has a salty taste, according to Montgomery.

“I know more about tomatoes than any man should,” Montgomery said. “The Ponderosa Red is a great sandwich tomato — measuring 6 to 8 inches across. We’ll have them later in the season, as well as another favorite vegetable of mine — Dixie Butter Peas.”

Familiar faces from last year’s market will be Keith Evans of Evans Farms; John Bruce with Emily’s Hydroponic Lettuce; R&N Farms, who specialize in goat cheese, eggs, canned relishes, pickles and goat cheese soap; Wanda Anderson of Nana’s Herbs; Sonya Boozer with peaches and blueberries; Jennifer Vines with sauces, jellies and jams, and Brenda Scott with BB’s Homemade Bread.

“We have two new farmers and two honey vendors, plus Jennifer Bianca who makes pottery,” said Ron Holly. “LaReunion will have sandwiches and drinks available.”

Mary Perko has expanded last year’s very successful chef demo presentations to include 122 Tree Lane, Lucia’s, Joe’s Italian, Satterfield’s, Little Savannah, Hot & Hot Fish Club, Bottletree Café, Brightstar, Nino’s and Rennaisance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa.

On Saturday, June 12, from 9-11 a.m., Angela Treadaway, regional extension agent for food safety, preparation and presentation, Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) will be at Helena Market Days answering questions pertaining to her area of expertise. Bring your canning equipment for a free test to ensure that it is operating safely.

For complete weekly information, see Helenamarketdays.com.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at labro16@yahoo.com.