By Kristie Jones of Love On Main Street
Popping the most delicious grape tomatoes in my mouth made a warm, sunny Sunday in July even sunnier at The Bernice Garden Farmer’s Market. Situated on the corner of 14th and Main streets in downtown Little Rock, it’s a welcomed oasis for those in search of locally produced fruits, vegetables, wildflowers, honey, coffee, and more. My dear friend, Kelly Brant, accompanied me on a journey to discover the wonder of the market. The vibrant colors, aromatic herbs and juicy flavors far surpass anything found in the produce section at your local commercial grocery. Meeting the farmers would serve to add another dimension to an already personal experience of hand picking locally grown food.
Robert of Willow Springs Market Garden provided a sampling of peppers and humor in his handwritten signs describing defiant tomatoes and cosmetically challenged garlic. He provided a lemon drop pepper for the recipe that began to unfold with a visit to each booth. This little pepper is known for its citrus flavor and packs a bit of heat that ranges from 30,000 to 50,000 on the Scoville Scale.
Kelly Carney of the certified organic North Pulaski Farms enticed us with heirloom grape tomatoes of a somewhat addictive quality and unmatched sweetness. Carney has been a fixture at this market since the first Sunday it began back in 2012. In addition to the tomatoes, there were overflowing pints of blackberries capable of inducing dreams of grandma’s homemade cobblers. With charming humor, Carney described his exclusive use of organic tools as more expensive and less effective.
Flat leaf parsley was the gem found by meeting Kevin Haggerty and Lauren Tyner of the North Little Rock Community Farm. All of their lovely vegetables and herbs were harvested from the student farm of Lakewood Middle School’s freshman campus. From seed to market, I thought of the work and pride that they poured into their colorful array from the garden. With corn on the cob from Barnhill Orchards and peaches from Val of the Russian Farmer, items from practically every vendor combined to make a sweet yet savory salsa idea. Small purple onions from Sara Fulton-Koerbling and Ryan Boswell of The Victory Garden and a touch of Sun Harvest Honey from Pat Cullivan’s apiary in North Little Rock were the final ingredients needed.
The Bee in my Bonnet booth was by far the most charmed as it was adorned with hand-tied bouquets of wildflowers. Katie, the farmer, allowed me to take her photo holding a bouquet and although we chose the lemon drop pepper over a jalapeño, her peppers were the prettiest. One of the fresh bunches of flowers had to come along for the journey and made a lovely display on Kelly’s dining room table.
From seed to plant, harvest to table, this adventure to create a recipe from The Bernice Garden Farmer’s Market was a rewarding experience with a great payoff. Here’s the recipe for a perfect summer salsa to keep you cool and refreshed.
- 1 ear of fresh corn, in husk
- 2 small ripe peaches
- ½ pint grape tomatoes
- 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons minced purple onion (see tip)
- ½ to 1 small lemon drop pepper, seeds and membranes removed, minced
- 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, minced PLUS 1 sprig for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar or to taste
- 1 light pinch coarse salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon honey or to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roast corn for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, dice the peaches and quarter the tomatoes.
- Shuck corn and using a sharp knife, carefully cut kernels from cob. Discard cob (or freeze for another use such as making corn chowder).
- In a mixing bowl, combine the diced peaches, tomatoes, corn, onion, lemon drop pepper and parsley and mix well.
- Add the vinegar, salt and honey and stir well to combine. Taste and adjust salt, vinegar and honey, if needed.
- Garnish with a sprig of the flat leaf parsley. Serve with tortilla chips or atop chicken breast or fish. Makes about 3 cups
- Tip: To tame the bite of raw onion, soak it in cold water for 5 minutes; drain well and proceed with recipe.
I love carbs and men who lie.
I’m nostalgic at heart and a lover of all things vintage.
Writing and photography have been passions since childhood, and I’m constantly amazed at the beauty found in what others may see as ordinary.
I think there’s a bit of love in everything if you’re willing to see and feel it. My journey is to find love in the places, people, food, communities and stuff of life.