Vermont's Brattleboro Farmers Market

As a traveler, I fear the days of pulling off the freeway and having your pick of mom & pop joints are long gone. Today, travel in America has lost a certain amount of luster. Strip mall sameness from Tulsa to Tacoma...close your eyes and there are few markers to're not at home anymore.

Across the land, farmers markets have swelled in number and for me, reclaim that sense of travel wonder. While in Vermont, visiting author Crescent Dragonwagon, we made a point to stop at the farmers market. Nearby Brattleboro, Vermont boasts a destination-worthy gem. In contrast to Seattle's parking lot or blocked off street format, Brattleboro's farmers market take place in a grassy lot, complete with semi-permanent structures, picnic tables and a large sandbox for the kids. Short on hustle and bustle, it's the kind of place where you spend a few hours, bump into your neighbor, and share a homemade ginger ale.

Coincidentally, a book called "The Great Good Place" was my reading choice for this trip. "The Great Good Place" explores the sociological influences of a notion called the "third place" -- those spaces in our lives where we gather for community, including cafes, coffee shops, bookstores, bars, and hair salons. (Starbuck's CEO, Howard Schultz, was greatly influenced by this premise, and factored the "third place" concept in the design of their stores.) In Brattleboro, the farmers market is their "third place." Ripped straight out of a modern Norman Rockwell piece, it was heartwarming watching friends and neighbors reacquaint themselves after a snow-packed winter, followed by what the locals call "mud season". No question. Brattleboro's farmers the heart of the community.

A large sandbox keeps the kids amused while parents shop or hang out near the perimeter and chat.

A hot cup of chai and Green Mountain Bluegrass makes for a perfect morning.

It took me a while to figure, he wasn't with the band. Fiercely independent, this kid brought his guitar...looking to play pick up with the various musicians! He stole the show every time.

Massage? Why not!
Sign says "Dispositions Adjusted"

Back-of-the-truck lamb. Grass-finished, whole or halves. Pelts for sale too.

Got any idea what "Ham on Hay" is?

People here are serious about social justice and activism. Shirt says, "Dignity has no borders."

Drinks: Hot ginger milk tea, homemade ginger beer and a fabulous organic honeycomb sour. Eats: Pan fried dough, ho-made fish cakes, and Mexican grilled cheese.

Mile High club, Vermont-style. Beef, Lamb and Pork.

(notice the shaft of wheat tattooed on her arm?)

Vermont Maple Syrup blind tastings. He refused to tell me what grade we were trying, insisting I identify my favorite first, by taste. Fancy is the lightest grade in color and has the most delicate flavor while Grade A Dark is darker in color and has a more pronounced maple flavor. Because of the intensity in flavor, Grad A or B is best for baking.)

Bit of Trivia: Why is pure maple syrup so expensive? It takes 30 - 40 gallons of Maple tree sap to make 1 gallon of syrup (66.9% sucrose)