Good Taste: The West Tisbury Farmers Market, an Island institution

Lavender sachets made by Andrea Rogers.
Photo by Kaylea Moore

Lavender sachets made by Andrea Rogers.

Despite the rain, locals and visitors flocked to the West Tisbury Farmers Market this past Saturday scooping up the summer bounty from the Island.

In its 39th year, the farmers market showcases Island farmers, bakers, and food producers as well as the craftsmanship of those creating artisanal products. Local produce, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy are the backbone of the market; joined by lobster, baked goods, value added products, and treats to eat as you stroll from vendor to vendor listening to music by The Cattle Drivers.

Next Wednesday or Saturday, head to the Grange Hall in West Tisbury for a late breakfast, a snack for the beach, a gift for a friend, or to gather the goods for a locally inspired dinner. Here is a selection of what you can find at the West Tisbury Farmers Market this summer:

Take your pick from the vegetables galore. Produce harvested only hours before overflows from farm tables. Slip Away Farm on Chappaquiddick offers a variety of vegetables including lettuce, chard, onions, broccoli and tomatoes just to name a few. One of their biggest sellers is kohlrabi. Christian Walter and Collins Heavener of the farm suggest eating it raw, sliced thin and served with apples and cheese.

Get your local meat from a range of vendors. The FARM Institute in Edgartown offers beef, pork, lamb, chicken, as well as goat sausage. Dave Radcliffe from Pilot Hill Farm in Vineyard Haven has an assortment of pork including bacon, breakfast sausage, country style ribs, ground pork, loin chops, as well as cuts of beef. Richard Andre from Cleveland Farm in West Tisbury has a wider variety of pork sausage this year, including kielbasa, knockwurst, bratwurst, and breakfast sausage, as well as chicken and eggs. Along with the refreshing mango lassis, Mermaid Farm in Chilmark sells yogurt, feta, fromage blanc, lamb, and beef.

Sample M.V. Sea Salt, made from water hauled from the south side of the Island to Down Island Farm in Vineyard Haven. Use the finishing salt on a tomato, basil ,and fresh mozzarella salad or sprinkle over grilled fish. Pick up local honey from Island Bee Company, a family endeavor of Tim, Tricia, Felix, and Esmé Colon. The honey is harvested from hives at farms around the Island and is labeled with the town where it came from.

Try the beach plum jam from The Good Earth of Martha’s Vineyard or their bodacious raspberry ice. Or sample one of Linda Alley’s jams from New Lane Sundries. Ms. Alley has been making jams and jellies for the farmer’s market since 1987. This year’s offerings include rose petal jelly, strawberry jam, and banana butter. This past week I found goodies from Pam’s Pesto, The Kitchen Porch, and Ethel’s Kitchen for sauces, spreads, and jams and Nicky’s, which offers a range of dipping oils including the spicy Nero’s Revenge and Zesty Lemon that they recommend serving on shellfish, fish, and chicken.

Say hello to Suzzane Fenn and Bucky Barrows from Good Tastes and pick up a refreshing fresh-squeezed juice or fresh salsa. Choices include lemonade or limeade, orange juice and citrus cooler, a combination of orange, lemon and lime juice.

Grab a cup of coffee from Chilmark Coffee Company or stop by Little Rock Farm. Part of the market since 1988, Little Rock has an assortment of baked goods including cookies, cupcakes, coffeecake, and pies and serves coffee for a morning fix. New this year are gluten-free popovers and muffins. Or swing by Beth’s Bakery, formerly Biga Bakery, for a selection of scones, strombolis, cookies, and breads. This summer they have added individual flatbreads made with peppers, olives, potatoes, onions, rosemary, and fresh tomatoes. You can’t miss the long line at Khen’s Eggrolls when you enter the market. The Egg Roll Lady serves up variety of Asian specialties including eggrolls, dumplings, sesame noodles, spring rolls, and salads.

When you walk by Andrea Rogers‘s tent you can’t help to be lured in by the enchanting smell of lavender. Offerings include lavender sachets and dryer bags, as well as lavender with recipe cards to make treats like lavender shortbread. “You can eat it or sleep with it next to your bed,” says Ms. Rogers. “A little goes a long way.”

Chilmark Chai tea was the best seller of the day for Vineyard Herbs, Teas and Apothecary, Up-Island herbal tea was also a favorite. This Island company sells a variety of herbal medicines and body care products including salves, made with a beeswax base and different herbs. For other non-edible treats check out the wares from Island Alpaca, goat milk soap from Flat Point Farm, homemade paper from Seastone Papers, or a vibrant flower bouquet available at many of the stands.

Stop by the West Tisbury Farmers Market from 9 am to 1 pm this Saturday, July 6 (extended hours), and from 9 am to 12 noon on Saturdays through October 5 and Wednesdays through August 28. For more information, visit thewesttisburyfarmersmarket.com.