Lewiston-native rediscovers her hometown at the Kennedy Park Farmers’ Market

A unique farmers’ market story by Doris Ray

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A few weeks ago I drove to the town where I was born and grew up – Lewiston, Maine – to visit the Kennedy Park Farmers’ Market. I was raised in that neighborhood in a French-speaking, Franco-American family, attending the Catholic school that bordered the northwest corner of that park, and hearing John F. Kennedy speak there on his campaign trip on a cold November night in 1960. It was early in the growing season, with few booths, and most hosted by some of Lewiston’s newer immigrants. As I browsed the tables I saw fresh greens I’d never seen. One was Amaranth so I asked how to prepare it and was advised to cook it as I would spinach.

At another table I spotted yet another green that was unknown to me: water spinach. I heard some of the other shoppers discussing the different products using my first language, French, so I asked one woman: “Comment, dit-on cela en Français?” She smiled and said “épinards d’eau,” and offered a cooking suggestion.

Somehow, In this place somehow transformed, I felt somehow at home – my hometown, my neighborhood, my old familiar park vibrant with unfamiliar foods and faces – and I, blessed to see it through new eyes, and to hear it in a shared language.

I also discovered how DELICIOUS Amaranth is!

Hawo grows amaranth, along with other beautiful greens at her farm in Lisbon.

This unique Maine experience was shared with MFFM by Doris Ray, who still resides in Maine today and loves her local farmers’ markets. Share your story with us and enter a contest to win prizes via our contest page.