Fresh food from farmer’s market


As Jane Dillner arranges her baskets of watermelons, a crowd gathers, hovering over the… As Jane Dillner arranges her baskets of watermelons, a crowd gathers, hovering over the mounds of produce.

“How much for the cantaloupe? And how much for the corn?”

“We cannot sell until 3:30 when the bell rings. It’s the rule. Eighteen minutes,” Dillner tells the anxious crowd.

Three years ago, planners from the Oakland Business Improvement District asked the Dillner Family Farm and about six other local businesses to establish a farmer’s market on Sennott Street, between Meyran Avenue and Atwood Street. Now from June through Thanksgiving, the Oakland Farmers Market operates every Friday afternoon from 3:30-when the bell rings-until 6:00.

Next to Dillner’s stand, Sandi Christoff is taking a break before the rush arrives, after preparing her display of piccalilli, jam and honey.

“Oakland is a good source of business,” she said. “Once the students come back, we stay busy.”

Dillner agrees. “College kids come here looking for fruit,” she said, “I think because it’s hard to keep vegetables in the dorms.” Dillner and her family come from Gibsonia and attend six other farmer’s markets in Pennsylvania.

Pitt student Kate Lasky said she visits the farmer’s market weekly, as she walked out of the crowd surrounding Dillner’s stand with a bag full of perfect peaches.

“I usually buy peaches, tomatoes, beats and green beans, which I eat raw,” she said, adding that she supports allowing students to have ovens in the dorms.

On the other side of Dillner is Mung Dynasty. The customers standing in line here are disappointed, however, to find out that by 4:15 p.m. Mung Dynasty had sold the last of the stand’s most popular product: wheat grass shots.

According to owner Chris Wahlberg, one ounce of juiced wheat grass contains the highest concentration of nutrients in the plant kingdom. One wheat grass shot per day nourishes the body with essential vitamins and the equivalent of two-and-a-half pounds of leafy greens.

“Wheat grass is good for focus, concentration, energy-and hangovers,” Wahlberg said.

Also at the market with Dillner’s, Christoff’s and Mung Dyansty is Nellie’s Middle-Eastern Foods, as well as stands featuring fresh baked bread and pierogies.