My last morning in Lecce Claudia took me to the Farmer's Market. During our day of cheesemaking, we found out that Azienda Padulana sells their cheese and yogurt there, and I wanted to have a little more of both before I left. When I heard the words, "farmers' market," (referred to by Claudia and Ylenia as il Farmers), I expected an outdoor street market. Not so. This market is indoors, and looks much like a small grocery store. It was, however, a true farmers' market. The food, the produce, wine, cheese, meat, cured meats, jarred products, all of it is grown, produced, and packaged in Puglia and comes directly from the suppliers. Actually, 85% of the food comes directly from the surrounding Salento province, and the remaining 15% from the other nearby provinces of Puglia. While we were shopping, many of the farmers and local producers stopped by and some even said hello to us.
Slow food at its best, this market is part of the Campagna Amica Foundation that promotes bringing local, sustainable farmers & suppliers directly to the consumer. Many of the outdoor food markets in Italy aren't necessarily true farmers' markets, with food coming even from other countries. The market in Lecce is the first "stable" market of the foundation's kind, meaning it's there daily instead of only being a weekend or once-a-week outdoor market. When we arrived, there were two clerks who were happy to help and answered my questions about the market. The "Made in Salento" seal is on all of the Salento products, along with informational brochures from many of the producers. As one of the clerks pointed out, the brochures also provided contact information if I wanted to arrange visits.
I left with yogurt, cheese, an artichoke spread, bread, and olives and walked the short way back to Lecce's Centro Storico for an early afternoon picnic. The only regret I have is finding this market on my last day in Lecce. Next trip, I certainly plan to stop by daily and pick up different local specialties to taste.
For those traveling to other parts of Puglia and Italy, the Campagna Amica website (in Italian) has a wealth of information about where you can find similar Campagna Amica farmers' markets throughout Italy, along with address information about their partnering farmers and suppliers. Most of the markets are weekend or once-a-week markets and not ongoing as Lecce's is. If you're traveling in Rome, both Katie at Parla Food and Eleanora at Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino provide great posts and lists of true farmers' markets happening in Rome, in English.
Join me in Puglia in 2013! For this food lover's culinary tour, we'll be cooking with our beautiful Italian mamme and professional chefs. We'll also be eating and exploring our way through the region. There are four tour dates available from which to choose! For tour details, check out this page: Culinary Tours in Puglia 2013!
***Early booking discount: Book and pay by check by January 31, 2013 and receive a $200 discount off the tour price.****
Il Farmer’s (Agricola Nuova Generazione)
Via Nicolò Foscarini, 16
Phone: +39 0832 217 538