ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Amy Root from The Food Project prepares Swiss chard that was grown in Lynn to sell at their counter on the first day of the Central Square Farmers Market.
BY BRIDGET TURCOTTE
LYNN — Alejandra Juarez was one of a handful of customers who made their way to opening day at the Central Square Farmers Market.
At Thursday’s market, the Lynn resident bought locally grown apples and fresh greens from Farmer Dave’s of Dracut.
“I like that things are fresh,” she said.
The market, at Washington and Exchange streets near the MBTA, offers a variety of locally-grown produce that is usually not available in supermarkets, say farmers. Apples were selling for 75 cents a pound, Romaine lettuce for $2 and zucchini and beets at $2 a pound.
The market opened for the season this week and runs every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Oct. 27.
Much of the food originates in Lynn at The Food Project’s public garden on Munroe Street and at Ingalls Farm. In addition to Farmer Dave’s, vendors also include Groton-based Riverdale Farm and Phalla’s Produce from Foxborough.
Dave Dumaresq, owner of Farmer Dave’s, has been traveling from Dracut to participate in the market for a decade.
“A lot of customers here, especially the immigrant population, see the value in the quality of our produce,” he said. “They will go out of their way to come to the market rather than just going to a supermarket.”
This week’s special items included lavender, grown on Munroe Street, and honey from Boston Honey Co. Spring greens are available during the first few weeks of the market. Summer favorites, like tomatoes and corn, will be available in July, said Hazel Kiefer, farmer at The Food Project and market manager.
She said the market stocks items that appeal to several different cultures found in the city.
Callaloo, a thick leafy vegetable, is popular among people from Africa and Central America, she said. It’s commonly used as an ingredient in soup.
Purslane is a big hit with people from Haiti, she said.
“It grows as a weed,” Kiefer said. “It’s high in antioxidants. People will stop at the garden and ask for it.”
Dumaresq came prepared with plenty of kousa, a small squash he said is popular with Middle Eastern and Central American customers.
“Middle Easterners often stuff it like you would stuff a pepper,” Dumaresq said. “And many Central Americans will put it in soup.”
Beets tend to be appealing to the Ukrainian population, he said.
Nicole Tabbi of Saugus said she was a market newbie.
“Everything seems to be more organic,” she said. “I really like cooking a lot of healthy things.”
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.