CUMBERLAND—Virginia sweet corn typically doesn’t make its debut until early July, but there is plenty of fresh summer produce just waiting to be picked. You can find summer fruits and vegetables at local farmers’ markets, farm stands and grocery stores, much of it perfect for serving at summer cookouts. “Right now we’re picking cucumbers, peppers and squash, and soon we’ll be harvesting cantaloupes, watermelons and tomatoes,” said Rob French, who helps operate Sunny Side Farms in Cumberland County. He and his father and two brothers grow 120 acres of fruits and vegetables that they sell on their farm and at a roadside farm stand in Powhatan County. “We should be picking sweet corn by the end of this month, and it’s highly sought-after, especially for Fourth of July cookouts.” Blackberries and blueberries, which are available from June through August, make great cobbler ingredients. And Virginia cantaloupes and watermelons are at peak ripeness in July and August. Right now there are green beans waiting to be snapped, in season from June through October. Summer squash is another vegetable that’s ripe from June through October. “Really, there is such a rich variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at this time of the year that shoppers shouldn’t have any problem finding something to suit their taste or occasion,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “When you visit farmers’ markets this summer, you will find a rainbow of fruits and vegetables at the peak of freshness.” French said his family offers customers recipes and tips on how to prepare all the fresh produce that they grow. The employees who work at the farm stands are required to cook and eat every recipe at least once so that they can make recommendations, he explained. “Most every vegetable is grillable,” French said. “Lots of people don’t like squash, but if you marinate it in Italian dressing and grill it, they will like it. “If the grill’s already fired up for hot dogs and hamburgers, you might as well throw some vegetables on there as well.” Media: Contact French at 804-492-4273 or Banks at 804-290-1114.