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!
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! :)
Here’s our so-far-unoccupied space at the new farmers’ market… This photo was accidental, clicked while checking some camera setting or the other. But when I saw it on the computer, it reminded me of the totally transient nature of farmers’ markets (and tiny farming in general!). Here we are, standing in a rectangle of asphalt marked out by some yellow lines, a PARKING SPACE, that transforms for a few hours into our little veggie emporium. All of the intention and energy of the tiny farm, concentrated…RIGHT HERE?! In a giant parking lot. Kinda weird… Life is what you make it, I guess! And I do love going to market! :)
Showed up at the 7am start of summer market opening day, to make an appearance, check things out (like, our new spot!), meet some of the other vendors, buy some food. Tara will also be here every Saturday, plus others when they can, but for the next couple of weeks at least, we won’t be setting up, and some veggie vendors won’t be here till June.
This market is at least 4-5 times bigger than the one we attended at the old farm. It’ll be a big change, with more small-scale organic growers offering similar veggie selections, and also way more people, but none of the familiar faces I’ve gotten to know, in many cases over 5-6 years. That last part is sad, but overall, it’s exciting.
Our stall is in a central spot—the empty space beside the round, yellow “honey” sign (below)—which seems good. Upfront in the photo is an array of unseasonably available produce—nice sweet peppers for early May!—from one of the several larger vendors who presumably buy at least part of their menu where the supermarkets do: a local food issue that’s concerning, but doesn’t upset or anger me the way it does some—everything tends to shake out…
We’re located beside another tiny farm, and I chatted with neighbor Anna about whether that might be a plus or not, if people have to choose from similar things on both stands. We’ll see, but it sounds to me like more choice, MORE FUN, and from what I’ve heard so far, all the small growers usually sell out by the end of the morning anyway. I bought some wild leek from our neighbors, a bag of great mixed baby greens from another aisle, an excellent bag of mixed sprouts…there’s lots to buy at the market when you’re not tied to your own veggie stand!
So, in its own exploratory way, our new season at the new farmers’ market begins…!!
More snow. A few inches, I guess. I don’t pay attention any more, unless there’s too much snow to get out the door… I trudged out into the field, snow up to my knees, to check the greenhouse. It’s doing fine as usual, fully inflated (it has two layers of plastic, with a fan blowing air between) and shedding snow with ease. The greenhouse (and the veggie stand behind it) won’t be moved to the new farm until the snow clears and it’s easy to get at, hopefully sometime in March. I hope dismantling it doesn’t make it fall apart. The plastic is rated for four years, which means the UV resistance should be giving out any time now. I suppose the plastic will start to disintegrate. I don’t really know what happens when greenhouse plastic expires. Guess I’ll find out. Until then, I expect it to last forever! :)
We rang out the summer at the farmers’ market with a really lovely morning. I don’t remember what was going on here, but Lynn is looking a little under siege. You can’t ever call our market EXTREMELY busy, but it’s steady, and we get a few mini-rushes most days, where customers start to queue up. It’s always fun on food’s front line!
Last year, a little experiment with veggie sales in a town 12 miles (19km) away didn’t go so well. I guess you could sum it up as No Quality Control. This year, in line with the tiny farming trick of thinking SMALLER, I had the sudden idea to put some veggies in at the convenience store three minutes down the road in the village. This is now the only store for quite a ways around, and it has the post office where everyone in the village picks up their mail. Since I’m always meaning to get the farm stand fully open, putting veggies out a couple of minutes away hadn’t quite made sense, but the way it came to mind now was a little different. If I could get a single shelf in one of the coolers, this would be an interesting, easy way to learn about veggies and refrigeration, and even be able to watch a mini version of the supermarket, convenience-shopping experience, by seeing what sells, the effects of labels and pricing, and…whatnot. All on the most casual level. Refrigeration is, of course, yet another of those many worrisome topics that come up along with Peak Oil and the generally somewhat alarming state of the world, BUT, fridges will likely be around as long as any number of other taken-for-granted things, I figure, so whatever’s learned from a little, low-impact experiment like this should be worth it. It’s an extremely simple set-up, with a small sign taped to the inside of the cooler door, hand-labeled bags, and an honor-system account book for inventory. I also like the idea of super-fresh garden veggies popping up in this most unlikely place, just below the shelf where a few supermarket-purchased veggies are kept for resale. Outpost 2, the Shelf, has been open for around three weeks now, stocked with ones and twos of mesclun and spinach, a few radishes, some herbs. I’m by there every day anyway, so I check the veggie condition often…and things are selling… Interesting enough…!