Stroll into Arsenal Park on a summery Saturday afternoon and you’ll be greeted by a friendly cast of farmers and local producers. Among them, you’ll see Cassandra Malis, manager of the Lawrenceville Farmers Market.
She is passionate about connecting farmers to consumers, and her excitement about the food and the vendors is contagious. If she tells you that the strawberries at Dillner’s are delicious, take her word for it and get a carton.
A native of Detroit, Cassandra has lived in Pittsburgh for two years and now resides in Lawrenceville. She is finishing her Masters Degree in Food Studies at Chatham University. While pursuing a Food Politics concentration, she has focused much of her work on women and infant feeding and has presented her research at several conferences in the US and Canada.
Not surprisingly, Cassandra’s best meal last week was a feast she threw together with a few choice ingredients from the Lawrenceville Farmers Market.
It never really feels like summer until I eat my first good tomato. When I bought a carton of cherry tomatoes from Dillner Family Farm at the Lawrenceville Farmers Market this past week, I was worried that I would be disappointed because tomato season isn’t technically here yet. But when I bit into the tomato it was just incredible, so juicy and flavorful. It was almost impossible not to eat them all during the market, but the wait was worth it because when I got home I made a Caprese salad, one of my favorites.
I also bought some garlic scapes at the market and made a pesto with them. Garlic scapes are so seasonal, that every year when I make pesto, it feels like a fleeting moment that I have to take full advantage of. I made some pasta, mixed in the pesto, and added some goat cheese from Cherish Creamery for some extra creaminess and tang. It was pretty great.
The farmers market allows me to eat locally and seasonally, which lets me experience something completely different with my meals. I also get to interact with the people who grow and produce the food I’m eating, something that feels meaningful and important in our day of industrialized agriculture. I can’t wait to see what our vendors bring this week . . . personally, I’m hoping for some more garlic scapes!