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‘Spring is springing’ at the market

Samples are available on Saturday mornings at the Fillmore Farmers Market.

Samples are available on Saturday mornings at the Fillmore Farmers Market.

IT’S A BIT of a ’tween time at the Fillmore Farmers Market. Winter’s larder of sweet potatoes and oranges is still filled to abundance, the spring asparagus has just arrived, but the full bounty of summer tomatoes and melons is yet to come.

Nonetheless, on a sunny Saturday morning in late April, there is no shortage of spicy exchanges that make for delicious eavesdropping as locals meet and greet and take in the sights and sounds of the market in a richly diverse neighborhood.

A woman bustles by bellowing into a cell phone: “I got here early, but you know that candyass don’t wake up ’til midnight.”

Some talk even focuses on the food and flowers offered for sale by the farmers, bakers and specialty food purveyors.

A noted surgeon is spotted stocking up on dessert: “I’m trying to avoid carbs and sugar, but they’re so friendly at that booth I just couldn’t resist.”

Another customer picks out a special loaf of artisan bread and is told: “That’s so funny, because last week someone else also bought one of those to use as a birthday cake.”

Near a display of walnuts:
Shopper: “Are these nuts fresh?”
Farmer: “Yes, would you like to buy some?”
Shopper: “No. I just like to see fresh nuts.”

A couple debates what to serve out-of-town guests coming for dinner, their eyes frantically darting about the market stalls.

He: “We could get some of that fresh fish and make a salad. That would be easy.”
She: “No, I think the fiancé has a thing about eating food with fins. I could get some of this fresh fettucine and make that pasta and zucchini thing.”
He: “No, no, their kids hate all vegetables — remember?”
She: “Then how about some of those samosas or something from the Indian food guy? They probably wouldn’t know there are vegetables in there.”
He: “I think we’re better off with a pizza. They’ll eat that.”

A farmer reassures a customer who drops a rubber-banded bunch of asparagus while juggling an assortment of greens and two containers of olives: “You DO need a bag — and I’m not going to charge you a dime for it, because that’s just a silly rule.”

Little girl in a pink tutu and sparkly purple top near a carton of large eggs labeled Goose Eggs: “Look Daddy! That’s from the goose that laid the golden egg!”
Father figure: “No, it’s not a golden goose egg. It’s from a real goose.”
Girl in tutu, eyes suddenly filled with tears: “Oh noooooooo!”

A woman inspects a wooden crate of Meyer lemons, heaped up behind a sign marked “7 for 1”: “Seven for one dollar? That just seems like it can’t be true.”

As spring moves into summer, the crops are about to get more bounteous at the weekly neighborhood market, held on Saturdays from 9 to 1 at the corner of Fillmore and O’Farrell Streets.

“Spring is springing,” says Tom Nichol, now in his 10th year as manager of the Fillmore market, which started in an empty lot now home to Yoshi’s and the Fillmore Heritage Center. “We already have asparagus, and that’s such a harbinger of spring — and the strawberries are starting to get their full flavor.”

Nichol forecasts that the early spring fruit will begin to appear in the coming weeks: cherries, peaches, even a few tomatoes. When new crops first appear, they tend to be more expensive than as the season weathers on.

But the talk is always cheap.