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(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rino DiMeo closed Rino's, his longtime Italian restaurant, last December and is now growing several varieties of Italian tomatoes that he will sell at markets across the Salt Lake Valley. Many of the tomatoes have not been available before including candelinas or " little candles" and San Marzanos, which are good for pizza and marinara.
What’s new at Utah farmers markets?

Farmers markets » Former owner of Rino’s restaurant among fresh crop of vendors bringing heirloom tomatoes (and other produce) to a market near you.

By Kathy Stephenson

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Jun 10 2014 07:25 am • Last Updated Jun 10 2014 07:16 pm

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.

At a glance

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/

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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.

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"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.

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