The last time we talked to Rino DiMeo, he was closing Rino’s Italian Ristorante, an old-school eatery on Parleys Way, to settle into retirement.
But in the past six months, there has been no relaxing for the 68-year-old. He started some 500 tomato plants from seed — along with other produce — in preparation for the 2014 farmers market season.
Today, he has 12 varieties of tomatoes growing on plots in Davis County, including Italian heirloom options that have not been available at Utah farmers markets before such as Candelline or “little candles,” Vesuvio, Campari and the famed San Marzano, which make amazing pizza and pasta sauce.
DiMeo also is growing fava beans, chard and kale for the early season and has Italian zucchini, golden peppers, melons and basil for summer harvest.
He is just one of several new growers and vendors customers will find during the 2014 farmers market season, which kicked off last week in Park City, Murray, and Provo.
Utah’ capital city officially begins its season this Saturday, June 14, with the opening of the Downtown Farmers Market at Pioneer Park.
In preparation for the downtown market, DiMeo has been getting up at 4:30 a.m. to water, weed and tend to his “babies.” He also plans to sell his produce — his booth is called Rino’s Italian Fresh — at the Sugar House, Bountiful and two Park City markets.
That’s a lot of work for someone who is retired.
“I’m actually enjoying retirement,” said DiMeo, who operated Rinos with Hoss Takmil for 33 years before closing it on Dec. 31, 2013. “I enjoy good food and I enjoy growing good food. It’s natural stuff. I don’t even know why Americans accept the garbage they send us (from other countries). It has no flavor. You go to Italy, Greece, they won’t even buy it.”
His fresh-from-the-farm taste is no coincidence. Born in Naples, DiMeo’s father and grandfather were farmers. His brother, who still lives in Italy, also has a farm.
“He jokes with me,” DiMeo says. “You went all the way to America to be a farmer?”
DiMeo’s not the only new vendor at Utah markets. Here are a few more things to seek out:
More Downtown • Sharon Leopardi, owner of B.U.G. Farms, also will be selling seasonal produce at the downtown market. She has operated a Community Supported Agriculture program for several years by borrowing land from homeowners throughout Salt Lake City. (B.U.G. stands for Backyard Urban Gardens.) Customers also can look for fresh-pressed juices from Vive Juicery and locally made pates, from Beltex Meats, which is owned and operated by Phillip Grubisa, the former chef de cuisine at The Farm in Park City.
Downtown Farmers Market • Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pioneer Park, 300 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City.
Market interaction • Finding a farmers market near you is easy thanks to an interactive map on the Utah’s Own website. Consumers can search for farmers markets by city or county; look for markets open on a particular day or time; or simply scroll through the alphabetical list of nearly 30 Utah markets.
Utah’s Own • utahsown.utah.gov/farmersmarkets/
Name game • The People’s Market recently changed its name to the 9th West Farmers Market, hoping to “make it feel more a part of the community,” said new market manager Maxine Lucero. This year the market has a new food truck, Rolling Mountain Bistro, that serves hamburgers, sandwiches, pasta and sweet potato fries. There also are two new youth vendors: Shayden William’s wand shop sells hand-made wands that look like those in the Harry Potter movies; while Tori Bushinski shows off her artistic skills with temporary glitter tattoos. Lucero said youth vendors only pay $1 a week to have a booth at the market.
9th West Farmers Market • Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the International Peace Gardens, 1000 S. 900 West, Salt Lake City.
Young entrepreneurs • On the last weekend of each month, the Wasatch Front Farmers Market lets youths 15 and under sell their homegrown produce and handmade crafts.
Wasatch Front Farmers Market • Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gardner Village, 1100 W. 7800 South, West Jordan and Thanksgiving Point, 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way, Lehi. Also Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wheeler Farm, 6351 S. 900 East, Murray.
Cocktails anyone? • The bloody Mary bar at the Park Silly Sunday Market is legendary, but this year market-goers also can get the “Heavenly Huck.” This new signature cocktails is a mix of Utah-made Five Wives vanilla vodka and huckleberry lemonade from the Dust Cutter Beverage Company of Jackson, Wyo. Pair your cocktail with the market’s newest food vendor, 11 Hauz, which serves Jamaican specialties.
Park Silly Sunday Market • Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Park City Main Street.
Music at the market • Velour Live Music Gallery, the Provo nightclub that has launched the careers of several Utah-based musical acts, is sponsoring “Music in the Park” at this year’s Provo Farmers Market. Kaneischa Johnson, Velour’s music manager, is scheduling the entertainment, which will perform on a newly constructed outdoor stage.
Provo Farmers Market • Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Covey Center for the Arts, 425 W. Center St., Provo.
Namaste • Instructors from Live Natural will offer a free yoga class Thursdays at 7 p.m. at the Oasis Summer Nights Market in Ogden. The Market, hosted by the Junior League of Ogden, includes a free music festival and farmers market.
Oasis Summer Nights Market • Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Oasis Community Garden, 2445 Monroe Ave., Ogden.
Downtown Farmers market
Where • Pioneer Park, 300 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City
When • Saturdays from June 14 through October, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m
Details • slcfarmersmarket.org/