We are more than half-way through the month, and I am just getting around to posting my guide to what's in season. (Last month's guide here.) You may think I am lazy. You may think I promise more than I produce, but there is a good, decent reason for waiting this long. The market, the what's in season, starts to change big time around now. In other words, up until a week or so ago, the market looked mostly like May and even a bit like April. About now, mid-June, is when new crops start rolling. To a large extent, mid to late June is our season of "Spring" crops around here. The locavore should be able to find the following:
Those harvesting asparagus from Illinois and points south like my friend Farmer Vicki of Genesis Growers are mostly out of the crop, but those from further north, like the Michigan farmers, still have plenty. Expect to see asparagus in the markets through the month. The hearty, cool weather greens such as kale and spinach are likewise still around. Radishes don't thrive once we reach our summer heat, so get them now too. Rhubarb grows early and then lasts for a while. Buyers tend to gravitate to it when there is not much else around, but it will be around still.
Strawberries have been in our markets for a few weeks now, expect a few weeks more. Like asparagus, the Michigan crops will last a bit longer. Cherries should show up before the end of the month and probably raspberries. Last week was the week that peas in their forms showed up, shelling peas, sugar snaps and snow peas. If you want your pea in leaf form, some farmers are selling the pea tendrils.
These are the types of crops you will see most of the season at various stands. Farmers started planting these crops as the weather warmed, and they harvest them as they bloom: broccoli, cauliflower, beets, arugula, fennel, swiss chard, lettuces (until it gets really hot), kohlrabi, carrots; zucchini and cucumbers (soon).
Most of the onions are still young as in spring onions or scallions, but I expect fuller summer onions to be around soon. Garlic is maturing a bit, the green garlic stalks you may see have a more bulb to them, and you will now see the sprouting scapes in the market.
Organic cultivator of mushrooms, River Valley of Wisconsin, shows up in tons of markets around Chicago. They will always have portabellas, baby bellas or crimini's, and white button mushrooms and most likely oyster and shitakes. They've had fresh porcini's. I've been told that they are local, but someone else was told they are not.
If you go to farmer's markets in Wisconsin and Minnesota, you will find many stands fun by Hmong farmers. They bring a variety of Asian vegetables to their markets. In the Chicago area, Nichol's Farm, Genesis Growers and Green Acres Farm grow some Asian vegetables. Green Acres Farm at Green City Market and Evanston will surely have the most, so if interested check their stand. Otherwise, you might be able to find some bok choy, baby or mature; tat soi, mizuna or napa cabbage at a market near you.
What Green Acres is to Asian, Kinnikinnick Farm is to Italian veg. At their stand at Green City and Evanston, expect to find Italian cooking greens that you will not see elsewhere. Nichol's grows rapini.
Herbs and Hot Peppers
Mint, cilantro, rosemary, basil, chives; these are the mostly likely herbs this time of year, but I've found lovage, oregano, cayenne peppers, lavender, sage and savory at various markets.
Nichol's Farm is still selling last year's potatoes and they are still plenty good. There may be apples around, but I have not seen them. Ellis Farms, at their stand at the Hyde Park Farmer's Market (Thursdays) had shelled black walnuts (!).
A report on early July arrivers here.