We’ve almost wrapped up our 40th anniversary tour of Cleveland, but we still have a few stops left. Next up: Countryside Farmers’ Market.
A fresh start
One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday morning is to meet up with friends at the Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow. We usually get breakfast there: a burrito from Spice or a sweet or savory treat from Big Fat Greek and Italian Pastries. We linger over our tea or kombucha at one of the benches and listen to music. There’s always a singer strumming a guitar or a band playing. Besides the gorgeous arrays of plump fruits and vegetables, there are stalls filled with fresh-picked flowers: fragrant sweet pea in springtime and dinnerplate dahlias in autumn.
On a hot summer day, the perfect way to cool off is with a popsicle from Popsmith, which combines fruits and herbs from the market in the most unusual flavors. The first time I ever tasted pawpaw (the largest edible fruit native to North America), it was in the form of a Popsmith popsicle. Now that the days are cooler, I wander around the market holding a steaming hot cup of coffee from Crooked River Coffee Company.
Downward dogs and yappy hour
Over the years, I’ve discovered all kinds of wonderful surprises at the market. One year, I found momos (savory meat-filled dumplings) being made by Bhutanese refugees who have now settled in Akron. Another year, the market organizers added yoga classes to the roster of events like cooking demos and tomato tasting.
Besides choosing from an array of produce, you can also get your knives sharpened or pick up birthday/holiday gifts from Glass by Leona or Thanks Marge. All the dog lovers out there will be delighted to know that they allow dogs to accompany their owners for an hour before the market closes at noon. (Service dogs are always permitted.)
Cream of the crop
The most delightful part of the market is being able to interact with the farmers and their families. If they have a quiet moment or two, they’re always happy to tell you more about what goes into their gluten-free bread or healthy dog treats. I talked to Howard Sobel of Crooked River Coffee Company who told me about their specialty coffees and being the first coffee roastery in Ohio to be certified organic. At Purplebrown Farmstead – which offers fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers – you can learn more about their focus on permaculture. I bought a carton of brown eggs at Mud Run Farm, where the farmer told me about their free range chickens, vegetables, and small grains.
Walk, bike, drive, or ride the train
You can visit the Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon from late April to the end of October. (In winter, the market moves indoors into Old Trail School nearby.) It’s perfectly located in the middle of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, so you can hike or ride your bike on the towpath before or after the market. Or take a stroll down to the beaver dam just across the road, accessible from the Ira Road or Hunt Farm trailheads. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train stop is nearby, so you can even ride the train there from Independence or Akron. The market is now in its 16th year in the National Park, and I look forward to spending many more glorious Saturdays there.
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