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Market Watch: Tayberries, New Potatoes and a Gem of a Lettuce

Summer is definitely here when tayberries, a hybrid of the red raspberry and blackberry, are back in abundance at the Yerena Farms booth. In addition to the marvelously sweet tayberry, farmer Apolinar Yerena and his brothers Guillermo and Gilberto grow strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, prickly pear cactus and squash on their 22 acre farm in Royal Oaks. Tayberries are sweeter and larger than raspberries and very delicate—making them difficult to pack and ship—so they’re only available at your local farmers’ market.

Farmer David Little of Little Organic Farms returns to market this weekend with bushels full of dry-farmed new potatoes. David grows over thirty varieties on his picturesque farm in West Marin including Mountain Rose, Purple Peruvian and the French fry-tastic Kennebec. The new potatoes that David brings in early summer are harvested by hand from green plants and have a delicate creamy consistency that is wonderful in a quick potato salad or boiled and tossed with fresh dill and butter.

For the past few Saturdays I’ve been loading up my market basket with as much Little Gem lettuce as I can get my hands on. When the weather heats up nothing beats an easy and beautiful salad composed of this diminutive lovechild of the romaine and butter lettuce varieties. It’s perfectly sweet outer leaves are wonderful with any number of salad dressings—I adore it with a good homemade green goddess—and the crisp inner hearts work well on a platter of early summer crudité. Pick up succulent heads of my latest obsession at Star Route Farms this week.

When the doors to the Eatwell Farms truck opened at this week’s market, the smell of fresh lavender was intoxicating. In addition to growing wheat, vegetables and herbs, farmer Nigel Walker also grows beautiful purple stalks of lavender. Though he sells them dried all year long, for the next couple of weeks you will find bunches of fresh lavender that you can take home to add to a bouquet, or to dry yourself and add to salts and sugars. Fresh lavender also makes the perfect addition to a relaxing bath.

Ridgecut Gristmills from Arbuckle, CA will join our market family this Saturday with their line of “just add water” mixes. Using locally-grown corn and wheat, Ridgecut has six mixes available including a gluten-free polenta/grits mix and a southern style cornbread mix. Ridgecut’s owner, Erin Sweet, tells me her buckwheat buttermilk pancake mix is made from organic buckwheat and would go perfect with all the beautiful berries available in the market right now.