A 19th-century house in downtown Raleigh has a new life as a farmers' market for the 21st century. Supporters of the Leonidas LaFayette Polk House (537 N. Blount St.) have been renovating the place for 20 years. Built in 1878, it was home to Leonidas Polk, founder of the state Department of Agriculture, founder and publisher of the Progressive Farmer and head of the National Farmers' Alliance. Now, according to Peter Daniel, chairman of the L.L. Polk House Foundation board of directors, the home will further "Colonel Polk's legacy as a visionary to help and promote the local foods movement." But the old house will do so in very modern ways, including an online farmers' market.
A collaboration of the Polk House Foundation, the N.C. Tobacco Trust Commission and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the website for the N.C. GreenMarket at the Polk House will showcase regional produce and products that can be purchased online. Orders must be placed by the Friday before the Saturday market, when goods will be available for pickup between 9 a.m. and noon. Daniel hopes that the new market will complement rather than compete with community-supported agriculture programs in the area. Thus, the market is gradually growing its business and list of vendors.
In June expect peak-season blueberries, plus pound cakes by Benson's Pound Cake Company, which took home the blue ribbon for Best in Show at the 2009 State Fair. Daniel would like to see others from eastern North Carolina participate at the Polk House and take advantage of the Triangle's market for local and sustainable foods.
To receive current information about market dates, available foods and potential on-site vendors, visit the market's website at www.NCGreenMarket.com. Those who sign up for the green market's listserv will receive a coupon from Raleigh's new Market Restaurant (938 N. Blount St., www.eatatmarket.com) for a free serving of mascarpone ice cream with fresh strawberries, cracked black pepper and balsamic glaze.
Open since May 4, the Market Restaurant tries to source as many of its ingredients from local farmers and vendors as possible. Lunch features items like grilled veggie or pressed cilantro chicken sandwiches, while dinner includes entrees such as mushroom and goat tamales, sautéed prawns with chorizo, and tempeh "meatballs" primavera. Sous Chef John Page says he emphasizes keeping the food simple. "We don't want to muck it up with over-the-top presentation," he explains. "Let food speak for itself."
Watch local, seasonal cooking Saturday, May 29, at 10 a.m. at the Durham Farmers' Market (501 Foster St., www.durhamfarmersmarket.com). Chef David Alworth of Guglhupf Bakery and Patisserie (2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham, www.guglhupf.com) will provide a free cooking demonstration complete with samples.
Between 1 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 5, catch up with the members of SEEDS for their annual garden party, Art Grows in Durham. The benefit will take place at the SEEDS gardens (706 Gilbert St., Durham, www.seedsnc.org) and will feature live music and activities for children, with local food, art and plants for sale to benefit the SEEDS gardening program for teens.