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Fresh from the farm
Farmers Market offers wide variety of produce
Jarrahdale pumpkins 2
Unique jarrahdale pumpkins, grown by the David Hitchcock family, are a hit at the market. - photo by Margaret Hobbs

Farmers Market vendors are still providing the area with fresh, Tennessee-grown produce, plants and flowers. Consumers can also enjoy fresh meat products, as well as assorted canned and home-baked food items.
Saturday, vendor Ginger Wanamaker had fresh stringless contender green beans, tomatoes, several varieties of apples and red sweet potatoes.  “The recent frost got my zucchini and squash, but didn’t damage the green beans right next to them,” said Wanamaker.
She also had a collection of greens such as collards, mustard, kale and turnip greens. Collard greens are a Southern staple filled with beta carotene, calcium, folic acid, iron and vitamin C.  Boil the chopped, stemmed leaves until tender, and serve with olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar.
Kale is wonderful in soups, mashed potatoes or sautéed in olive oil. The leaves come in many shapes and textures, and should be removed from the stalks and tough centers.
Depending on the green, one serving can deliver a significant helping of folate, iron, potassium or calcium. The darker the green, the better it is for you.
Mustard greens are a bit sharp and peppery flavored, but filled with nutrients. They are best prepared as you would collard greens or kale.
The slightly bitter spinach leaves are great served raw in salads, or steamed or boiled in lasagna, stuffed chicken or baked or mashed potatoes.
Market shoppers could also get a serving of wheatgrass juice, which is gaining popularity as research reveals many health benefits. It is often called “liquid sunshine” because of the sun’s energy concentrated in the chlorophyll content.
The David Hitchcock family, Jacqueline, Ethan and Grant kept busy selling their assorted pumpkins and gourds.  Their most recent pumpkin success story is their jarrahdale pumpkin, a stunning heirloom pumpkin from New Zealand with blue-green skin. They planted eight acres of pumpkins this year, but were not totally happy with the harvest results.
“Growing pumpkins can be trying,” said David. “You have to plant in July, and they are very sensitive to weather conditions. We didn’t get as many as we would have liked this year, but we enjoy the entire process and like including the boys.”
A tasty recipe filled with nutrition follows:

Collard Green and Black-Eyed Pea Soup
Antioxidant-rich collard greens and fiber-packed black-eyed peas have a starring role in this nutritious soup. There’s no need for loads of ham or salt pork—just a small amount of bacon gives it a wonderful smoky flavor. You can skip the bacon and substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth for a great vegetarian dish.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
5 cloves garlic, (4 sliced and 1 whole), divided
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
5 cups chopped collard greens, or kale leaves (about 1 bunch), tough stems removed
1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed
6 1/2-inch-thick slices baguette, preferably whole-grain, cut on the diagonal
6 tablespoons shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese
2 slices cooked bacon, finely chopped
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add sliced garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Increase heat to high and add broth, tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in collard greens (or kale), reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig. Stir in black-eyed peas; remove from the heat and cover.
Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and broil until lightly toasted, 2 to 4 minutes. Rub each bread slice with the remaining garlic clove. (Discard garlic.) Turn the slices over and top with cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted, 1 to 3 minutes. Serve the soup topped with the cheese toasts and bacon.
Market director Mary Cantrell encourages everyone to visit the local market soon, as the season is quickly winding down.
“We will basically be over Nov. 26, the day before Thanksgiving,” said Cantrell. “A few may come after that, but there is not much growing at that time. We are open each Wednesday and Saturday.”
Next Saturday will be their Dessert Contest featuring sweet potato, pumpkin and apple desserts.
“We encourage everyone to enter their favorite sweet,” said Cantrell. “There will be a first prize in each category and a grand prize awarded to the best overall.”