Updated: Sep 24, 2021
As you may have read (here), I have already professed my fondness for grocery shopping. It's truly all about the discovery of some local or fresh or different.
During the summer, there are boundless ways of filling this need when it comes to local produce: There's a town farmers' market within 20 minutes of our house pretty much any day of the week; there are multiple co-ops fed by farms; some farms even have stores on their premises... heck, even the chain grocery stores offer local products.
But the real fun, the real discovery is when you are driving along some back road and, like an oasis, there's this cute little stand of vegetables, plants, eggs, honey or homemade jam. Some are manned by a family member, but most are just honor-system transactions featuring a lock box of one sort or another.
Our favorite corn, the best corn in the Valley (voted by us!), is about 2 miles from our house just outside of UMass at J&J's Farm. A week or two after the 4th of July, you can expect to see the large green cart (top left) parked by the side of the road next to their corral of very happy cows. I've learned you have to get there early on weekend mornings or you could be out of luck by noon.
In early June, the best asparagus (again, our vote) is off the back of a truck (top right) parked at the end of driveway in Hadley (the Asparagus Capital of the World, by the way).
We have two stands within walking distance from our house, one of them is along a dirt road that only a handful of people venture down a day. Yet, there it is: a little canopied refrigerator that sells 4 kinds of veggies, kombucha and, if you are lucky, some very tasty zucchini bread.
Pretty much anywhere you go in the Valley, there is a stand selling something. Some are filled to the brim, while others may just offer garden overflow.
On a trip to North Adams earlier this summer, Sue and I found a stand selling eggs guarded by some very sweet miniature donkeys!
As summer turns to fall, pumpkins and squash from the fields take their rightful place on the side of the road. If one is lucky there might also be hot cider or other fall goodies.
It's always a little sad when you no longer see the stands. It's a sure sign of what's in store for the next four or five months.