From the Market Manager
Welcome to the 19th year of our marvelous market. This year as every year, we have some new vendors. We welcome Chicken Feather Farm from New Braintree who has perennials, Beauty in the Bar from Springfield with soaps, lotions, and other products to enhance your life, Grace Hill Farm from Cummington with cheese made from their own cows’ milk, Longevity Greens from Springfield with micro greens, Auntie Cathie’s Kitchen from West Springfield with gluten-free baked goods, and Rainbow Harvest Farm from Greenfield. Welcome to all of you.
You may be wondering why we have added another farm since we are so well represented with excellent produce. The Kitchen Garden, a long time vendor at our market, is headed to the big time. They were invited to attend the market in Copley Square in Boston. Good for them, not so good for us. However, David Paysnick from Rainbow Harvest Farm, although not certified organic, is a chemical-free farm. Those of you who shopped at the KG can be assured that the quality and chemical-free produce that you prefer will be available to you. FYI, Phuong’s Asian Vegetables is also chemical-free. She only uses cow manure as fertilizer, and if she has to spray she makes a potion with Thai chilies and water. Those Thai chilies are HOT.
This year we will get to meet Abby Ripley from Maple Corner Farm. She was born last June, and although she made one appearance at the market last year, I’m told she’ll be a regular this year. We love babies. This market just keeps getting better and better. We started with 5 vendors; Outlook Farm is our only original vendor. Now I regularly get requests to join our market. If we need what they have to offer, they get a spot, otherwise they don’t. It’s important at any market that the folks who work so hard have the opportunity to do well. If you have too many vendors with the same thing, they don’t. That’s why I micro-manage this market.
Sometimes someone will say that farmers’ markets are pricey. Much of our food is subsidized, but we don’t think about that. Small farmers aren’t subsidized. And, small production farming is more expensive than large-scale farming. Remember that when you patronize our market you are keeping your local money local. It trickles down to local businesses. In addition, what you buy is fresher, tastier, and will definitely last longer once you get it home. Don’t confuse price and value.
Frequent Shoppers’ Card
Pick up a frequent shoppers’ card at the market table, and every time you are at the market, get it signed and dated. Right now we are giving a small gift from the market to anyone who fills up a card. We may go to collecting cards and pulling a couple of names each week for a gift if giving out gifts to everyone becomes too pricey for us. This was CISA’s idea. I wish I could say that all of the good ideas are mine, but, alas, they aren’t.
Those of you who shopped at our market with your SNAP/EBT cards last year, as well as this past winter market, know that you received a bonus when your card was swiped for $5 or more. This year, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) has raised $100,000 so that they can not only increase the bonus to $10, but also make it available in Hampshire and Franklin counties as well. They are also going to expand their Senior Farm Share program. That program makes produce available to senior citizens at different locations.
Meet the Vendors
Gardeners Deb Houston and Lee McLaughlin are happy to join our market this year. They have grown plants in the Ware River Valley since 1991, and specialize in zone 5 perennials.
Whether your need is for wetland plants, or those that prefer dry conditions, Chicken Feather Farm probably has the plants that you need. Planting several varieties can extend the bloom in your perennial garden from April until November.
Deb and Lee are eager to share their excitement about the latest plant cultivars, or their special techniques for growth and propagation of perennials. The CFF inventory is ever changing, so please ask if you have a special plant in mind. They have a wealth of knowledge. Welcome!
Longmeadow (Storrs) Library Used Book Sale May 19th-21st
The sale is open to the public Friday, May 20th from 10-5, and Saturday, May 21st from 11 to 4. If you are a member of the Friends of the Library, you can shop on the 19th from 4-8PM. They always have a wonderful selection. Parking will be limited on Saturday since it coincides with Long Meaddowe Days.
Asparagus and Rhubarb Season
Although we may not have asparagus this week because the nights have been so cold, it is coming. In recent years, many recipes have appeared showing us the many ways in which it can be cooked. I even saw a recipe recently that had shaved raw asparagus in a salad. Years ago I used to steam it standing up in a coffee pot with the stems on the bottom. That worked well. These days I mostly stir fry it or roast it with olive oil, garlic, and kosher salt sprinkled on top. It’s so easy to cook.
Did you know that Hadley asparagus is known world-wide? The soil in the Connecticut River Valley is perfect for growing it. While we don’t have as much as we did years ago, there is still a plentiful supply. Lucky us.
Rhubarb is also a perennial. Last year someone gave me some from plants that his grandfather had planted over 50 years ago. Although some people have told me that they eat it raw, most of us eat it as an ingredient in something that contains sugar. I make muffins, quick breads, crisps, jam, and sometimes a pie with it. It freezes perfectly, so buy extra and stick some in the freezer for the winter.
This ‘n’ That
Farmers who grow peaches aren’t expecting a good crop this year. The extreme extended cold that we had in February killed lots of buds.
Please return your glass milk bottles to Trinity Farm, and throw the caps away; they aren’t reused. The bottles are manufactured in Canada as no U.S. company makes them anymore.
Put numbers on your house that can easily be read from the street.
Wear your seat belt. I have noticed that many male pickup truck drivers don’t wear their belts. Perhaps there is something I don’t know. Does their vehicle keep them from getting injured if they have an accident?
Use your car’s ashtray. The filters aren’t biodegradable, so they make a real mess if you throw them out of your car.
The Town of West Springfield is looking for an assistant cook to work at their town’s senior center preparing lunch Monday through Friday (18 hours per week.) The salary is $13.50-15.00 per hour depending on work experience. The hours are 8AM to 1PM (approximately.) If you or someone you know might be interested call Sandy MacFadyen at 263-3232 or her email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even though the holders for soda and beer look like they’re made out of paper, they have plastic in them so that they don’t fall apart when they’re wet. Therefore, they aren’t recyclable. Who knew?
According to Maple Corner Farm, our maple products vendor, this year was surprisingly good for them. The weather was so peculiar this winter that they weren’t sure how it would go for them.
The color of an egg’s shell depends on the type of chicken that lays the egg.
We are participating in this community fund raising event today, May 3rd. If you’d like to contribute to us through this, please do. Otherwise, you can just hand us a check or some cash during the season. Thanks in advance.
Fiddleheads are the curled top of different varieties of ferns, eaten as a vegetable, picked before they are unfurled. They are only available in early spring. At our market Outlook Farm brings them for 2-3 weeks only. They have to be cleaned first, and they must be cooked. They are eaten in different parts of the world, not just here. Their flavor is difficult to describe. Mostly I describe the flavor as “green.”