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Farmers market opens for season

Spring is finally upon us after a very long wait, and with it comes the promise and excitement of a new growing season.

The Carlton County Farmers Market is celebrating its 35th anniversary of bringing fresh local produce and cottage foods to the community. It began in 1983 with a group of enterprising folk working together to bring the farm to your table. How much the world has changed since then!

Farmers markets are more important than ever — to the local economy as well as providing a much-needed service. Eating fresh is the best for both nutrition and flavor.

We'll be kicking off the 2018 season Saturday, June 2, with our annual plant sale from 9 a.m. to noon. You will find plants that are grown for this area and many heirloom and unique varieties.

Early spring produce will also be available, with rhubarb sure to be in abundance. Also called pieplant, it is closely related to garden sorrel and is classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit. Used mainly in dessert recipes, it also freezes very well.

Here is a basic rhubarb crunch recipe that is easily customized to your taste. Add fresh or dried fruit to the rhubarb, or add nuts and spice to the crunch topping. I also like to add a dash of vanilla or almond extract to the rhubarb mixture.

Rhubarb Crunch

Filling:

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 cups rhubarb, diced

1 1/2 cups sugar

Crunch topping:

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, room temperature

In a medium saucepan, combine water and cornstarch. Stir until dissolved. Add rhubarb and sugar. Heat over medium-low until thickened, stirring occasionally. Pour into buttered 9-by-9-inch (or similar) baking dish. Top with crunch topping and bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned.

For crunch topping: Stir together oats, flour and salt. In separate bowl, combine sugar and butter with a fork until crumbly. Stir in dry ingredients and sprinkle over rhubarb mixture.

Enjoy warm with a scoop of ice cream for a special treat.

We are excited to bring you another season of delicious products as well as fun activities and demonstrations. Joining us on opening day in Cloquet on June 2 and in Carlton on Tuesday, June 5, will be Elizabeth McLaughlin, SNAP educator in Carlton County. She will be distributing seeds for the Vegetable of the Year: the mighty squash.

Activity sheets and squash plants will be available to kids age 15 and under. Quantities are limited, so plan to come early.

Until next time — happy gardening!

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