Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I love farmers markets. There’s something about coming home with an armload of rich and flavorful tomatoes or zucchini that feels like I just picked them from my own truck garden on the farm — without all the work.

On Saturday, I went to the Clayton Farm & Community Market at Horne Square, 348 E. Main Street in downtown Clayton, North Carolina, where vendors set up booths every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm. There’s plenty of parking, and lots of boutique stores and restaurants nearby. I was there to work a shift at the League of Women Voters-Johnston County booth, but as I was early, I wandered around first to look at all the vendors.

The market organizers aim to promote “local” and “North Carolina” in regard to the produce and products that are sold. This Saturday I stopped to talk to the folks from Hank E. Panky Farm in Selma, selling their goat milk soaps. I love looking at the antics of their goats in videos posted on their Facebook page.

Then I met Mike and Jan Brindle at their From the Hand Farm booth. What caught my eye was Mike’s “Got Rhubarb?” t-shirt, and of course I asked if he had some. Yes, a cooler full of it! I have been looking for rhubarb for almost four years. He explained it’s not grown as a major crop in North Carolina because it doesn’t do well in the heat of summer and when it gets over 90 degrees, the plant can be susceptible to a bacteria or disease that spreads easily. I asked him, if I did grow it, how would I go about it? He said it has to be grown by seed, planted in early April and harvested before the heat. But with Mike & Jan growing it for me on their Spring Hope, North Carolina farm, I just need to come to the Clayton Farm & Community Market more often!

rhubarb

After I worked a shift registering voters and meeting local people who wanted to know more about North Carolina’s newest chapter of the League of Women Voters (anyone is welcome to join, and if you want information about upcoming elections and who is running in your district, go to www.vote411.org), I bought two bundles of rhubarb and on the way home, stopped at Town Market for strawberries. By the time my husband got back from a field trip to visit with members of a model railroad club in New Bern, I had two strawberry rhubarb pies baking in the oven. They always juice up and spill over, but it was worth cleaning the oven afterwards to see the look on my husband’s face when they came out onto the cooling rack. I told him he was welcome to give one away, but for some reason he decided to keep them both!

For more information about growing rhubarb in North Carolina, check with the North Carolina Extension Service. Here’s an article about rhubarb that ran last year in the Salisbury Post and explains a few facts and the interesting background on this granny-smith-apple tart plant. And of course, here’s a recipe for strawberry rhubarb pie.

 

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