Alpine Farmer’s Market – my new favorite Saturday morning place

Last Saturday, we decided to check out the Alpine Farmer’s Market. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this was our first visit to the farmer’s market, which takes place every Saturday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Our normal Saturday visits to Alpine happen around lunch time, when the vendors are packed up and heading home.

I’ve been watching the farmer’s market updates for a couple years on social media, and was pleasantly surprised by all of the goods offered this past week.

We have become regular customers at the Sul Ross Retail Meat Store, open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for public purchase of the in-house processed meats. Our first stop at the Farmer’s Market was Big Bend Country Cattle, where Todd Sharron, rancher and fearless leader of the students at the Retail Meat Store, was selling his own grass-fed beef. We visited for a while and left with a couple of beautiful grass-fed T-bones… which were melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

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Todd Sharron and family at their Big Bend Country Cattle booth.

Our next stop just happened to be at the table of our favorite former-columnist, “The Dirt Farmer.” Mark Foster and his wife Debbie Tout had a stand selling their homegrown veggies, relishes, eggs and mustards from their Red Wagon Farm. They had the biggest sweet potato I’ve ever seen (I even took a selfie with it) and fresh Jerusalem Artichokes – also called sunchokes – among their many offerings. We picked out “normal” sized sweet potatoes and small sunchokes to go with our steaks. I left the humongous sweet potato for another shopper. We also left with Mark’s blog address so we can keep up with his local gardening tips and adventures.

Some of the Red Wagon Farm's offerings.
A few of the items brought by Red Wagon Farm.

My ears perked up when I heard another vendor, John Robertson of Robertson Pecans, talking to a woman about the benefits of herbs and roots that he sold. I am a big fan of teas and herbal remedies, so when he started talking about how to make tinctures with his wares, I was listening. His pecans are beautiful, and he told my husband that he planted the pecans from seed. Growing up surrounded by pecan trees in Houston, I appreciate the effort that goes into pecans. He also sold big jars of local honey, Himalayan pink salt and fresh eggs from free-range chickens. We added more goodies to our shopping bag.

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John Robertson shows a jar of Catclaw root in a jar with alcohol, becoming a tincture.

Our final stop was at Bella Roca’s table, where they were selling wonderful soups, scones, spicy ketchup, chutney, fig preserves, pasta sauce and more. They also had for sale broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard, leaf lettuce and spinach plants, ready to be taken home and planted. But, our attention was focused on the Elephant garlic. We’ve grown garlic before and love the huge and mild Elephant variety, so we purchased some of it. One clove is nearly as big as my hand. Nearly.

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Bella Roca had all sorts of wonderful items.
Some of our goodies from the Farmer's Market.
A sampling of our goodies from Alpine Farmer’s Market.

I’m excited to see what spring will bring to my new favorite Saturday morning activity, and look forward to future Alpine Farmer’s Markets.

Located at 105 E. Murphy Street (across from Hotel Ritchey and next to Print Co.), the Alpine Farmer’s Market takes place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, weather permitting. Find them on Facebook at “Alpine Farmers’ Market” for more information.

Jerusalem Artichokes, also known as sunchokes, with a quarter for size reference.
Sunchokes before I prepared and cooked them.
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Roasted sunchokes – if you like artichokes, these taste just like artichoke hearts, without all the effort!

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes)
(Named for their flavor that so closely resembles artichoke hearts, these starchy tubers are now one of my favorite side dishes. Thank you, Red Wagon Farm!)

1 pound Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrub Jerusalem artichoke tubers and cut out eyes. Cut them into 1-inch pieces. In a large bowl, mix olive oil, thyme, garlic and sea salt together. Add cleaned and cut sunchokes to the bowl, and toss well to coat. Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast in the preheated oven until Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes are tender, about 35 to 45 minutes.

Printed with permission of the Alpine Avalanche

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