ELLSWORTH — Paul and Karen Volckhausen at Happytown Farm appreciate as well as anyone else what a rough winter the region experienced this year.
At the end of one of their four hoop houses, a massive snow drift stood more than 6 feet tall and blocked their entrance into the structure.
“We would have liked to have been in there in March,” said Paul. Instead, they could not get in until early April.
Now, however, as spring is in all its glory they are back outside — into the fields at their Orland farm, but also to downtown Ellsworth where the Ellsworth Farmers Market takes place every Saturday morning in the parking lot of Acadia Realty (190 Main Street, across from The Grand).
Though the market runs all year long, from November through April it is inside at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Bucksport Road. Getting back outside is something both vendors and customers look forward to, with the arrival of warmer weather.
The Volckhausens are veterans of the Ellsworth market, having participated since 1981. Their focus at this time of year is all things green: spinach, arugula and mustard greens — all kinds of mustard greens.
Varieties of mustard greens grown in the hoop houses at Happytown Farm include red, Osaka purple, spicy and ruby streaks. The Volckhausens enjoy braising both mustard greens and spinach in a wok, mixing in a little garlic and ume vinegar.
Happytown Farm has been offering rhubarb for a couple of weeks now, and asparagus will be showing up soon when they are at the market. And there’s more to look forward to after that, too.
“It won’t be long before we have radishes, turnips and carrots,” said Paul.
The Volckhausens offerings include more than fresh vegetables. They also have meat including pork and lamb, and are still selling potatoes and onions that they stored over the winter. They just recently sold the last of their cabbages from storage.
The mix of food that the Volckhausens have to offer is reflective of the diversity that can be found in the list of vendors that participate in the Ellsworth Farmers Market, as well.
A new vendor this year is Applied Ponic Technologies, offering vegetables and fish — ranging from Red Russian kale and mixed salad greens to rainbow trout.
Briarwood Farm offers seedlings, flowers and fruits in season, and Burke Hill Farm in Cherryfield will have organic blueberries in August.
Tammy Seed, the Weber Farm and Wise Acres Farm also have produce offerings at the market.
In addition to the Volckhausens, other vendors also offer meat: Old Ackley Farm (chicken, pork, sausages, beef and eggs), Rock and Pebble Farm (pork and chicken eggs) and Tide Mill Organic Farm (grass-fed organic beef and chicken).
Don’t have time to prepare or cook food? Vendors have you covered there: Bohemian baker and artist Janet Vachon offers vegan, gluten-free fruit pies, fudges and cookies, Tandoor Downeast has prepared Indian food, spice mixes and chutneys, and Garden Side Dairy & Hatch Knoll Farm has goat milk cheese, yogurt, fudge and organic berry spreads.
Not hungry? The market is still worth checking out. Arts and crafts vendors include Ida Davis of Adroit Jewelers, Doris Walsh of Homespun + Lace and Christine Covert, who has handmade pottery, ceramics, mugs and fair-trade African baskets.
While not necessarily all of those vendors have been participating since the markets moved back outdoors, the ranks of vendors grow as the weather gets warmer.
“Each week, we should start having more vendors,” said Paul.
Ellsworth Farmers Market
When: Saturday morning, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Starting Monday, June 22, the market will also be held Monday and Thursday from 2-5:30 p.m.
Where: On Saturdays, in the parking lot of Acadia Realty (190 Main Street, across from The Grand). On Monday and Thursday afternoons, in the parking lot of the Maine Community Foundation (245 Main Street, just over the railroad tracks when heading up Main Street going away from downtown)