Friday’s harvest to Saturday’s market is the way it is! We still go direct from field to stand, with no cooler in between, and that seems to work out. And the stand itself hasn’t changed much in the last few seasons: raw cedar bins on boards on sawhorses, baskets up front, under the 10’x10′ E-Z UP canopy. What’s new is our latest in DIY veggie sign technology: the usual cards printed in marker with description and price, but now mounted with tape on long, thin coffee stir sticks, stuck right in with the produce. Anyhow, good weather, a decent turnout, a fine morning all round!
You can’t go wrong with baby carrots, it seems. They are, well, cute (I’ve heard people say that way more than once). So you can buy them and eat them, or maybe stick ’em in a clear vase full of water for a while (idea!)… In any case, these Nelson carrots are not only fun to look at, and small, they’re pretty tasty! Nice crunch, and good sweetness for summer. Because of the kinda slow-growth in this cloudy weather, we took the time to do a second carrot thinning, just to harvest these (often, at this point, they’d be bigger, and we’d start digging up whole rows).
Also along for the ride, and sold out quite early, baby beets, mostly the candy-striped Chioggia (below), with a few red Kestrel in there. And, a couple of varieties of lettuce, the super-red Granada oakleaf and the butterhead Kendo. Both have a strong, bold taste, able to hold their own in sandwiches or…anywhere else. Plus, not in sight, all-lettuce mesclun (well, baby leaf mix).
Along with the last of the Sugar Ann snap peas, that was it for a fairly rainy, kinda rained-out Saturday at the farmers’ market… Still, fun!
These guys, the White Rock Cornish X meat birds, have free-ranged too far, making it to the edge of the veggie garden in the big field. Luckily, although it looks good in the photo, this all-lettuce mesclun is done, cut at least twice and now too full of damaged and crowded, stretched leaves to make harvesting for market worthwhile. So, the chickens are actually putting it to good use. But of course, they won’t stop here.
So far, they’ve been completely free to roam during the day. I count and shut ’em in out of harm’s way at night, and pop open the door soon after sunrise. If they found farm life dull, they could hit the road and head to town, just like that. Instead, they tend to wander further from home bit by bit.
I’ve been watching their circle of foraging territory gradually expand away from the chickenhouse. A few advance scouts lead the way, sometimes alone, or in twos or threes. Eventually, over a couple of days, more follow. It’s fun to watch the process, and they seem to appreciate the freedom (since they use it), but it’s still three weeks to Processing Day, and they’ll keep on exploring right into the garden. Time for some fencing action…
(In front, pieces of old hose and water pipe are being sorted out on a clear patch of ground.)
A cool change with the much bigger farmers’ market we’re at this year is the easy access to lots more local food from other market vendors. We’re there every Saturday, and so are they! (Nothing better for really appreciating a farmers’ market than being both a seller and a buyer…).
The biggest change for me is, suddenly, there’s all sorts of LOCAL MEAT. There’s beef, bison, chicken, emu, rhea (ostrich-like), plus a cured-meat-and-sausage vendor, a butcher, and more (venison and elk, I think, and there must be pork in there as well). Still haven’t gone through it all, but I have started to taste my way through the beef. This week, I’m on to a second beef farm.
My sampling approach is simple: buy a steak cut (I prefer rib) and some ground, expensive and…less so. In the first taste test, the beef was certified organic and 100% grass-fed. Today’s, also certified, is fed a combination of grass (pasture in summer, hay in winter, of course) and corn silage, all grown on their farm.
The meal is pretty local: rib steak, grilled to medium-rare and lightly salted, topped with grilled garlic scapes, tossed in a salt, pepper and olive oil, and our all-lettuce mesclun, just cut, with a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of apple cider vinegar.
The scapes are from our market stand neighbors (it’s so sad not having our own fall-planted garlic in the garden this year!), happen to be organic, gotten on a trade for mesclun. The beef was purchased for full price (vendors give each other a 10% discount here, but I didn’t bother to identify myself just for the savings, I’m sure we’ll get to know each other over the summer…!).
All in all, totally tasty, and even easier to buy and cook than to write about! :)
It’s a harvest Friday, second for the farmers’ market, and first for CSA, but the load is still light. After picking snap peas, we spent the day doing other field work. In the photo, Libby, Jordan and Michelle are hand-weeding the small strip of spring-planted garlic, and we spent some labor-intensive time thinning a 400′ (122m) of carrots, and several beds of beets (the thinnings were the beet greens harvest). In late afternoon, time to cut greens: spinach and mesclun. Plus a little parsley.
Checking back over the last four years, at this time, we had broccoli once, radishes usually, baby Swiss chard a couple of times. And, of course, garlic scapes. And, a couple of years, no peas yet. So, all in all, with the slightly slower planting schedule in this start-up this garden, and all the cloudy weather, we’re doing pretty well!
At last! Our first day at the new farmers’ market, with a large sign (we temporarily used our new roadside sign to make a…big entrance :), and a small but superfresh and tasty (and seasonal) selection: all-lettuce mesclun, spinach (Spargo) and radish (Rebel). Lynn was happy to be at market in her home town, and Tara made her new-tiny-farmer market debut! The flow of people was steady, and we sold out by 11 am. Pretty good!
Pricing at this market is quite a bit different from the old market: everything is more expensive! It’s not quite at urban market levels, but a lot closer in this bigger town. Basically, the same harvest as in previous seasons sells for almost twice as much.
This is for sure more realistic and fair. I think about the ridiculously low (though rapidly rising) cheap food supermarket pricing that sets the baseline for what small growers can charge at the market. I recall that in North America and Europe, we apparently spend less than 10% of income on food, when quality produce just can’t come that cheap. And these aren’t ridiculous, high-end, boutique veggie prices, simply a more realistic price—processed foods are still sooo much more expensive, while possibly (probably) killing you at the same time…
STILL, it kinda feels weird putting less into a bag than I’ve been used to for six market seasons. Oh, well, change is always a little strange, this one is good all around, and I’ll get used to it! :)