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Despite rain, Farmers’ Market opens

While rainstorms and outdoor markets don’t usually make a pleasant pair, about a third of the total vendors at the Park City Farmers’ Market still set up shop in The Canyons parking lot Wednesday to kick off a wet opening day. And the shopper turnout wasn’t bad either, according to vendors. That’s not surprising, since the market is the only one-stop shop for anything from handmade hackey sacks to live Maine lobsters.

Freshies Lobster Co. is one of the new vendors at the market this year. Market manager Volker Ritzinger said the selection committee chose Freshies out of 120 applicants because they thought the unique business would increase the market’s diversity.

Ritzinger, who owns Volker’s Bakery in Kamas and brings his breads to the market each Wednesday, also trucks in a wood-fire oven and sells hot wood-fired pizza. He says customers benefit from shopping at the market because they can "talk to the person that makes the product, or grower. They’re the ones making it People can find out where products come from."

Most vendors chat willingly with customers about anything, from the production of their products to the history of the business. The market brings a community feel back to the shopping experience.

For instance, Ron Drake of Drake Family Farms, which produces goat-milk products, said he got into the business after his children participated in the 4H program and raised and showed goats.

"The kids went to college and we decided to go commercial. We had all these goats leftover," Drake said. They currently milk 140 of their 350 goats, all of whom have individual names.

Wayne Parke of Pioneer Valley Jams and Syrups not only preserves fruit, but also preserves his family’s heritage. Parke’s ancestors were some of the first pioneer settlers in the Utah Valley. His grandmother taught him how to make jams and jellies using the skins of apricots, which are naturally sweet and high in the gelling agent pectin.

He said the internet is also changing the way farmers’ market vendors do business. It’s not uncommon for visitors to purchase his products and become hooked, ordering more off his Web site.

"We literally ship all over the world," he said.

To him, the vendors at the farmers market bring quality in a world of mass production.

"You’re going to find a variety of product and a quality of product that you typically won’t find in a [grocery] store," Parke said.

Most vendors offer samples of their goods, standing behind that quality. Rose Kaszuba of Silver Rose Gourmet was passing out hefty slices of her chocolate babka, a Polish specialty. And Pat Ford of the Beehive Cheese Co. distributed samples of espresso and lavender cheese, a seemingly odd combination that won him a blue ribbon at the American Cheese Society competition. Ford was willing to talk about his product and explained the low somatic cell count of his milk and how it translates to extremely clean milk and tasty cheese.

"I think that’s what people come for: a fresh product that doesn’t have all the junk in it that you get in the stores," Drake said.

The farmers’ market also offers opportunities to discover new foods. Tya Midgley of Chad’s Produce said that later in the season they will carry a larger variety of vegetables than the grocery store.

"The grocery stores are trying to streamline everything," Midgley said. For example, they carry only purple eggplant because it has the longest shelf life. Midgley, however, says market shoppers can expect red, white, purple and even heirloom eggplants from Chad’s Produce this season.

The Park City Farmers’ Market will be held each Wednesday from noon to 7 p.m. in The Canyons parking lot through the fourth week in October.


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