The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust farmers market, known by most as the Crystal Spring Farmers Market, has been on my to-do list for the past few years. I’m actually embarrassed to admit this because my good friend, Maina, works one of the stands there every Saturday. I’ve had conversations with her about the market, the customers she meets and how important the farm relationships have been to her. I finally visited in July.
From May until early November, the market occupies a grassy section of the 320-acre Crystal Spring Farm, along Pleasant Hill Road in Brunswick, every Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. There’s a collection of stands packed with produce and patrons with well-used canvas bags strolling through. Nearly 40 vendors participate, including farmers, bakers, cheesemakers, fisherman and craftspeople.
To experience the market is to really see a community come alive. Customers and purveyors know each other not just by name, but also know each other’s families, summer plans and lives. The scene is really more reminiscent of a weekly family reunion. A two-piece band plays in the center of the row, and young children dance while adults stock up on the bounty: local meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables.
Most farmers markets I’ve been to have an enchanting quality about them—they appear in a park or a square just as quickly as they disassemble. For a few brief hours, there’s a flurry of buying, selling, tasting and talking, and then—poof!—it’s gone, until next time.
I caught up with Maina and her boyfriend, Richard, at the Six River Farm stand toward the end of market. The line at the Bowdoinham farm’s register was so long, I didn’t get a chance to say “hi” until it was time to pay.
At checkout, I made a plan to meet Maina and Richard back at their apartment (about a mile down the road) for an impromptu farmers market lunch of red potatoes, heirloom lettuce and fresh salsa with an interesting packaged egg dish I spotted at the Mulberry Delicacies stand.
The meal was a total mishmash. I roasted the potatoes with oil, lemon wedges and herbs, and topped the lettuce with the salsa, the egg dish and leftover roast chicken. Maina filled a bowl with thin discs of radishes and cucumbers, adding a dash of salt.
While the morning had been unseasonably chilly for July, our improvised feast offered the freshest tastes of summer.
Passing by Crystal Spring Farm on my way home, the market had already vanished; tents were down and cars were gone. The lively commotion we’d witnessed just hours earlier now seemed like a curious hallucination. But I knew it’d be back, chock-full of vendors and fresh produce and sociable neighbors, the following Saturday. And I’ll be back, too.
Claire Jeffers is a freelance writer living in Portland. She’s worked as a cook, server, recipe tester, barista, bar reviewer, cheesemonger and personal chef. These days, she’s a home cook, but only when she can fight off the temptation to dine out.