SOWA OPEN MARKET This is less a farmer's market than an open-air bazaar where, in addition to the fruits and veggies, vendors hawk a little bit of everything — including ceramics, chi-chi handbags, art prints, and chair massages. On the breezy Sunday that marked the fair's third weekend of 2009, roughly 75 booths had set up shop, and that's not even counting the sprawl of dealers in the gutted trolley barn serving as an antiques warehouse. When the wind wasn't threatening to tip over vendor tents, it pleasantly wafted the scent of the CSA Dahlia Farm's lilac soap. (Curiously enough, this same booth also sold little artworks painted on teeny-tiny canvases.) Olio di Melli was handing out spoonfuls of their throat-tingling (that's a good thing) olive oil, while Spring Brook Farm peddled their own beef and bacon and Clear Flour Bakery bagged up ciabatta and focaccia. In addition to their herbal honeys infused with mint, lemon verbena, and the farm's famous lavender ($3 to $5), the Herb Lyceum at Gilson's carried such interesting potted oddities as Goodwin Creek Gardens lavender and mini-cypress plants. At Silverbrook Farm's booth, intriguingly blue-hued farm-fresh eggs stood out against the bushels of kale and pea tendrils.
BEST FIND "Remanufactured" Rolling Rock–bottle glassware by Riker Art Glass (East Providence, Rhode Island)
CITY HALL PLAZA Even though Government Center is the epitome of Brutalist architecture run amok, the spills of lilies from Stow Greenhouses and Silverbrook Farm's trays of blazing-bright marigolds breathe some life into this cold slab of concrete. On the first day of the City Hall Plaza market, I bumped into some other familiar faces, such as Danish Pastry House and Stillman's Farm — they all hit the locavore circuit pretty hard at this time of year. For the discerning carnivore, Stillman's prides itself on its "conscientiously raised" meats, including beef from Belted Galloway cattle, pork from Berkshire pigs, and fresh eggs. But if you're more interested in heirloom tomatoes, herbs, and flowers, a Stillman's rep told me, "I would suggest visiting the greenhouse, because I can't put into words how awesome it is." It's tempting — but why would I hoof it all the way out to Lunenburg when they bring the best of it here?
BEST FIND Hot-pepper jam from Silverbrook Farm (Dartmouth, Massachusetts)
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