Today, the kids and I planned a super ambitious day.  Stephen is still out of town and it’s so much easier with Nick and Sally if we are busy and out of the house.

We decided to start our day at the Willoughby Farmers’ Market.  The market is in downtown Willoughby.  It was not hard to find at all.  We parked in a nearby school parking lot.  It was easy to access.  Nick and Sally both enjoyed the fountain located near the gazebo on the way to the market.


At first glance, this is like any other market.  An open area with booths of vendors set up.


Many people were buying flowers and plants.  Since it’s the middle of May, it’s time to plant tomatoes and other things in the ground.  We were happy to see Rainbow Farms at the market.  We’ve done some U-Pick at their farm.  We bought some lettuce and Nick purchased a cucumber.  Sadly, this was the only local farm that I was able to find at the market.


The booth that amazed me the most was the semi truck parked behind this huge row of tables of “fresh” produce.  I don’t think any of it was from any farm in Ohio.  It was obvious that they had just picked up skids of food at the Cleveland Food Terminal or a place like it.  They had pineapples and lemons and bananas!  ARGH.  I really hope that people realize that this is not supporting our local farmers.  Many of the workers at this booth were Amish, so in respect, I didn’t photograph much of it.


I will admit that we bought a watermelon.  When Nick and Sally get excited about vegetables and fruit, I don’t want to squash that enthusiasm.  We ate some tonight.  It was ok, but nothing like the fresh, local, organic melons that will be in season late summer.

The rest of the market was mostly crafts and some home produced baked goods.  There was also some local cheese and honey.

The market was right next to a church and they had a sign that the restrooms were open.  I thought that was nice to know.  Having two little kids, restrooms are always on our mind.

If you’re looking for a quaint walk through Historic Willoughby on a Saturday morning, it’s worth walking through the market.  But, if you want a true Farmers’ Market, we have some great ones in the area – just not in Willoughby.


Yesterday, we went tomato picking.  We went back to Rainbow Farms since they were the first ones in the area to open u-pick tomatoes for the 2011 season.  We last visited Rainbow Farms for blackberry picking. Other farms will have tomatoes soon, they are just waiting for more ripening.

We met our friends for picking and it works out well.  One of us stays outside with the kids and the other goes into the market.  That makes for a lot less unloading and reloading of children since we have 5 between us.  For tomatoes, you stop by the shed for 1/2 bushel sized baskets and head to the field.


Since our last visit, everything had great signs.  It was so easy to find.  For future reference, there is a bathroom with running water in this barn.  That turned out to be a good thing for us.


Seems that Nick and Sally liked the dirt more than tomatoes.


At some point, Sally was eating the dirt – yuck!  She also ate a tomato or two.


The tomatoes at Rainbow are field grown on the ground.  It was picked over, but we managed to pick quite a few tomatoes.  I ended up with 2 of the 1/2 bushel baskets – so 1 bushel of tomatoes.


You leave the baskets and transfer the tomatoes to containers that you bring from home or misc. boxes that can be found at the shed.  Since we had just picked peaches on Saturday, I had great boxes to use for bringing home my tomatoes.

Each 1/2 bushel was $9.  So, I paid $18 for the tomatoes.  I’m currently simmering some tomato sauce in the crockpot.  I’m going to can all of them, but I am unsure if it will be crushed tomatoes, sauce, paste or a combo.  This is my first time with tomatoes, so I’m still in the intimidated stage.  It won’t take long to figure out my process.


We’ll probably try out another farm or two for tomatoes while they are still in season.  Hmmm… I think I need to buy more canning jars, lids and rings.  It’s not even apple season yet!


Yesterday, we traveled back to Rainbow Farms.  Last time we were there, we picked currants, but this time it was for blackberries.

It rained off and on during our 45 minute trip to Madison, but we were greeted with blue skies when we arrived.  We were told that they were pretty picked over from Monday, but Tina let us go out and see what we could find.  We had met our friends there.  It’s always nice to have an extra adult around and it’s also nice when we are the only ones picking.  We don’t have to worry so much about the kids getting in the way of other pickers.


This photo of Sally says it all!


We ended up picking 5 pounds of blackberries.  I thought that was pretty good considering that they were pretty picked out when we started.  They are $3.25 a pound and I ended up paying $14.90.  The math is slightly off due to my container credit.  If you bring your own containers, they weigh them and don’t charge you for that part.  If you use their containers, you end up paying $3.25 a pound for them.  We picked up another dozen corn while we were there ($5).


I was intrigued by the melons.  We bought one passport melon for $2.50 and 2 personal size orange melons ($3 for the two).  The passport one is a cross between a honeydew and a cantaloupe.  We haven’t tried the orange melon yet.  So, I ended up spending $25.40 total.


We’re looking forward to returning next week for peppers and tomatoes.