ADVERTISEMENT

Some lucky mothers may start this morning with omelets made with organic eggs and fresh asparagus, locally smoked bacon on the side and toasted honey-wheat bread.

Or, they could have a link of sausage and cream-topped yogurt – also both local – followed by a bite of an almond bear claw.

Fresh flowers might be on the table or tray to brighten their Mother’s Day morning, with a hanging basket in full blossom waiting on the porch.

These moms have “farmers’ market families,” the kind who like their food fresh and local, and their shopping social.

It is spring and, along with the radishes and rhubarb, the region’s farmers’ markets are sprouting up and spreading out.

The Elmwood-Bidwell market and the one in Lancaster returned for the season Saturday. Those in Hamburg and Blasdell opened a week ago. The North Tonawanda market is open year round but attracting far more farmers this time of year. Buffalo’s Downtown Market comes back Thursday, and Williamsville’s begins next Sunday.

Despite a dreary chill in the air, customers were out early Saturday on the lawn on Bidwell Parkway.

“This is a hardy neighborhood,” said Laurie Hogan, a seller at the Great Harvest Bread stall. She said customers come out in all kinds of weather and have grown to know one another well.

“Especially in the summer, people will line up for their muffins to go with their coffee,” she said.

Owner Craig Locke said he brings the hearty stuff to this market, where the “healthier” breads are especially popular.

“We have flax bread, honey whole wheat, pumpernickel – those are all seen as healthy – and we make one with seven grains and five seeds that we call ‘Woodstock,’ ” Locke said.

However, they also make sticky buns as big as a baseball cap, which Hogan said sell well around Father’s Day.

At the Weiss Farm Producers stand, Tony Weiss and his crew framed the fresh produce with fragrant lilac branches. Saturday, they brought in from their East Eden farm pearly white spring onions, crisp fresh leeks and small bunches of well-scrubbed ramps for $3, as well as rhubarb and asparagus.

“We’ll have strawberries in a couple of weeks,” Weiss said, for those who would rather buy a basket than go out to his U-pick farm. (Those who do make that trip get to see the donkeys and emus, which the kids always like, Weiss said.)

After the berries, shoppers will start seeing the farm’s pack of peppers – 25 varieties. Weiss said the poblanos are particularly popular and preferred by local chefs.

Janice Johnson, thrilled that the market had returned, comes from Riverside to do her weekly food shopping and said she was not put off at all by the damp weather.

She knows many of the vendors by name, “and they are all wonderful,” she said, pointing out where she buys her eggs, bacon, cheese and bread – which was the Five Points Bakery booth, where her daughter also works.

One person she greeted was Bonnie George of Painted Meadows Farm, who sells all sorts of eggs, free-range poultry and rabbit at the market. Surrounded by coolers, and with a freezer in her truck in case she runs out, George explains to customers what is in a combo-dozen: that would be four each of chicken, duck and turkey eggs. People with tinier appetites might try a carton of the small gray speckled quail eggs.

“I recycle the cartons if you want to bring them back,” George reminds one customer.

Nearby, shopper Mary Claire Vivian was just polishing off a purchase.

“We live down the street and I wanted an apple turnover,” Vivian said, with a smile that said mission accomplished. “To me, it was really exciting that the market was going to open today.”

The weather did keep some regulars away. Keelan Darling of Freedom, owner of Darling Bee products, said she was setting up her “rainy weather table” Saturday because she had to leave the bees at home. “I usually bring a hive,” Darling said, “but they don’t like to come out when it’s wet.”

She did bring the fruit of their labor, however: filtered honey (the amber supermarket-style sweetener, which is heated and strained); raw honey, a thicker, milkier product taken fresh from the hive, which has chunkier sugar crystals, more wax and perhaps the odd bee part; and creamed honey, processed with extra sugar for smaller crystals and smoother texture.

The lawn between the booths was dotted with strollers, dogs and couples carrying coffee and looking for a few goodies to carry home, while a lone guitarist strummed quietly under a tree.

Things were a little busier later in the morning at the year-round market in North Tonawanda, on Robinson Street at Payne Avenue. Even the sausage, pastries and canned goods look brighter now that the flowers and homegrown vegetables are added to the picture.

Kirk Canfield of Wilson was overseeing a virtual field of tender asparagus spears. He said he’ll have asparagus to sell for about six weeks; then come the peas and the beans, followed by the flood of summer vegetables.

The Seaberts of Seabert Farms in Lockport – a three-generation operation – also only sell what they grow, and Saturday it was bunches of bright red radishes, and bundles of spinach and scallions.

“Next week we’ll have lettuce,” Deb Seabert said.

They also were among several vendors advising customers who were buying flats of plants and hanging baskets that it isn’t summer yet. Plants should be kept under cover for a few days, or they could be nipped by frost early this week.

But no one appeared in a big rush to plant. The mood was relaxed, as shoppers walked behind strollers, and strolled behind walkers, bags slung over their arms, noshing on slices of tomato pie, or collecting rich pastries from Tombak’s Bakery to treat Mom, or themselves.

Regulars on both sides of the tables greeted one another by name, and many accepted Hershey’s kisses from William Trump, who said he comes by every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to sweeten things up.

In the background, “Musical Mark” Swogier, a self-taught musician, entertained with his accordion near a garden of potted shrubs. “I’m 51, and I’ve been playing for 42 years,” Swogier said. He said he plays at the market just to entertain people and because, like for so many others around him, it’s a perfect place to spend a Saturday morning.

email: mmiller@buffnews.com