Dickman Farms Greenhouses & Garden Center's biennial Va Va Bloom Garden Show sprouts something new this year: a farmers market.
Looking over the list of vendors, though, it's apparent that "farmers market" is a bit of a misnomer. It's more of an all-things-local market. Wineries, nature societies, restaurants and artisans, almost 40 total, will join local food producers at Dickman Farms for the new Va Va Bloom attraction this weekend.
The idea came to Garden Center Store Manager Kate Ward during a tour of markets in Vermont and Maine in September. Seeing the showcases of local producers pushed her to act on some long-held aspirations about a similar market at Dickman. Because the Auburn center shares many values with farmers markets - sustainability, locality, hands-in-the-dirt industriousness - it was only fitting that Dickman should host one, Ward said.
"We're trying to show what people are doing right in your own backyard," she said. "It's healthy, fun, fresh and local."
The market participants will line up their tables inside Dickman's perennial department, which will shelter them and visitors in the event of rain. Among the local producers set to appear is Elderberry Pond, of Auburn, which will sell whatever greens it can prepare for the weekend. Co-owner Merby Lego can't say whether that'll be spinach, mixed lettuce or something else - or how much will be available.
One certainty for Elderberry Pond's table is sausage, kale and potato soup, which is made from produce and hogs raised on the farm and served at its on-site restaurant. Cups will be $2.
Lego said the mid-April market's timing positions it as a nice herald for the summer season.
"The markets are coming - and there will be a lot of stuff," she said with playful understatement.
Also for sale at the market: the wines of Long Point Winery, in Aurora, whose chardonnay, pinot grigio, dry Riesling, semi-dry Riesling, vidal blanc, Ciera Rose, cabernet franc and possibly merlot will be available for both tasting and purchase. The emphasis on white wines is timely, said Long Point owner and winemaker Gary Barletta.
"In the spring, a lot of the crisp white wines go well with the season," he said. "Showing wine and flowers - it gets everyone into a spring mood."
Outside of the market walls, Dickman Farms will be overgrown with activity: gardening seminars and workshops will cover topics like planting edible annuals and perennials, New York's botanical gardens, planting to attract birds or insects and more. Guitarists Loren Barrigar and Mark Mazengarb will perform Saturday afternoon, with The Susan Taylor Trio following on Sunday.
Though Ward is waiting for the weekend to decide whether the farmers market was a success - and whether it will return - she can't help feeling optimistic.
"I can't imagine it going any other way but fabulously," she said, citing "the quality of what they do and what their beliefs are and how that matches us."