29 May 2024

What's in Season in Norfolk: Spring 2024

After some unsettled days of “is it winter or summer?” the weather in Norfolk has finally decided to declare itself springlike, which means warm-season farmers’ markets are in full swing. A recent visit to the Afterglow Summer Market (held each second and fourth Wednesday of the month in the Railyard District, part of the Railroad neighborhood) yielded some details on what’s perfectly in season right now.

Here’s your guide to what’s peaking at local farmers’ markets in late spring 2024.

From their Fields to Your Table

Cruciferous Crunch: Be on the lookout for crisp cauliflower, peppery arugula and vibrant kale. Each is loaded with vitamins and perfect for salads, stir-fries or roasting.

Hearty Greens and Roots: Grab some leafy collard greens and bok choi for steaming or braising. Don’t forget those vibrant loose beets – perfect for roasting, pickling or adding a splash of color to springy salads. Garlic scapes, the flowering tops of garlic plants, offer a milder garlicky flavor ideal for pestos or dipping sauces.

Spring Greens and Alliums: Tender baby spinach is a versatile green perfect for salads or quick sautés. Look for crisp green onions and stock up on pungent garlic for all your culinary creations.

Early Gems: Spot smaller, new potatoes perfect for roasting or boiling. Tender sugar snap peas add a delightful sweetness to salads and stir-fries.

Blooming Beauties

Norfolk’s farmers’ markets are bursting with color this spring. A stop by the Hidden Gem booth showed off a bounty of flowers from this Chesapeake-based vendor. Here’s a small sampling:

Classic Elegance: Nothing says spring like Peonies, and they offer the feel of luxury with their large, fragrant blooms at an affordable price.

Delicate Charm: Campanula, commonly known as bellflowers, come in various shades of blue and purple, adding a touch of elegance to bouquets or container gardens.

Wild and Wonderful: Embrace native wildflowers. They’re always a better choice than their invasive counterparts and are good for the ecology of the region. Look for cheery yellow Black-Eyed Susans and the graceful plumes of grey-leaf goldenrod. These low-maintenance beauties attract pollinators and add a touch of natural charm to your landscape. Or, buy them cut and display them in your home to bring a touch of the outdoors inside.

Fresh From the Seas

While they’re not exactly farmers’ market fare, it’s worth mentioning that we’re in that moderately short window of time when soft shell crabs become available. These delicate crustaceans are a local favorite, typically available from late spring to early summer. Enjoy them simply fried or get adventurous with stuffed soft-shell crab recipes.

Beyond The Market

There’s much more becoming available over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for asparagus, radishes, lettuces and fresh herbs like basil and mint as the season progresses.

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