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The Memphis Farmers Market (MFM), now in its third year, will open on Saturday, April 19th, for a two-week pre-season, so that customers can take advantage of early spring produce such as strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and assorted greens.

Approximately 25 vendors have signed up for the market's "soft opening," including Whitton Flowers & Produce, Jones Orchard, Bonnie Blue Farm, Downing Hollow Farms, Neola Farms, and Alcenia's Desserts & Preserves, among others. New this year is the market's recycling initiative and a coffee and breakfast bar.

The recycling initiative is part of the market's new environmental policy that encourages the use of recycled materials. It also promotes an increased awareness of the environmental benefits of buying locally grown foods. The market will provide recycle bins and re-used plastic bags to vendors and customers. Mac Edwards, who recently gave up his longtime ownership of McEwen's on Monroe, is leading the effort for the market's own coffee and breakfast service.

"There is definitely a need for brewed coffee and some basic breakfast foods at the market, but the solutions we had in the past all fell through," Edwards says. "So, together with the MFM board and Fitz Dearmore of Crema Coffee, we have decided to make the market's coffee cart a way to raise money."

The coffee cart will sell brewed and whole-bean coffee as well as breakfast pastries such as bagels, muffins, and scones. All proceeds from food and brewed coffee sales will go toward the market, but only a percentage of the proceeds from whole-bean sales will benefit the MFM, a nonprofit that is mostly run by volunteers. "The whole beans are roasted in small batches in New Orleans and get to us right after the roasting," Edwards says. He also plans to make the whole beans available for online purchase.

The Memphis Farmers Market regular season is from May 3rd through October 25th at downtown's Central Station, every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The farmers market at the Memphis Botanic Garden will run for a full season this year and opens on Wednesday, April 23rd. Located in the garden's Pine Grove, the market emphasizes locally grown produce and goods. The market will run through October 29th and is open every Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m.

Also at the garden at the end of this month: Fratelli's "Tuesdays on the Terrace" wine tasting. The Latin-themed tasting is on April 29th, from 6 to 8 p.m. Cost for the tasting is $25 for Botanic Garden members and $35 for nonmembers. For reservations, call 638-4131.

Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry (576-4100)

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art invites visitors to a dinner and tour on Thursday, April 17th. The guided tour of "A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," which begins at 6 p.m., is free with museum admission. The Brushmark will offer a special evening menu for the event, and visitors are encouraged to make reservations.

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 1934 Poplar (544-6200)

On Saturday, the Peabody's chefs — executive chef Andreas Kisler, Chez Philippe chef Reinaldo Alfonso, and executive pastry chef Konrad Spitzbart — will prepare a special duck dinner that includes everything but duck. A week after returning from New York City, where the three cooked at the James Beard House, the chefs will re-create their menu for local food lovers.

As a tribute to the Peabody's ducks, which are celebrating their 75th anniversary at the hotel, the menu will focus on classic duck dishes, such as foie gras au torchon and cassoulet, prepared without the main ingredient. This explains why the fifth course is Peking veal instead of Peking duck, the foie gras is cured and poached chicken liver, and the cassoulet ingredients are goose confit and Berkshire pork-garlic sausage. Cost for the dinner, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at Chez Philippe, is $135 per person plus tax and gratuity. For reservations, call 529-4188.

The Peabody, 149 Union (529-4000)



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