From the Market Manager
As usual we started our market season being chilly. And damp. And, as usual, some of the people I saw the next day asked me when the market started. I don’t understand why so many people forget that we open on the first Tuesday in May. We have done so since 1999, our second year of operation. Hopefully more folks will show up today.
When we started this market, there were 98 farmers’ markets in Massachusetts; today there are over 250. Our market isn’t big by national standards, but it’s a pretty good size for Massachusetts.
Last week Paul Tuthill from WAMC-FM interviewed me as he does each year when we open. One of his questions was why did I think that there were so many more markets than there used to be? I think it has to do with being aware of the value of buying locally grown/raised/made products. So much more is written today than there used to be about nutrition, buying local, etc. There are films, magazine and news articles about farming, raising animals in a humane way, the benefits that come from eating locally and more. And, once someone becomes a regular at a farmers’ market, they recognize how much better the food tastes.
Sometimes someone says that the market is expensive. Most often farmers’ markets are comparable to a grocery store. Some grocery stores carry local produce in season, but most of what they carry comes from someplace else. I always tell anyone who says that, that they are confusing price and value. What you purchase at a farmers’ market will still be fresh the next week; you won’t have to toss it.
The peach crop in New England will be just about nonexistent this summer. If you recall, we had an extreme cold snap that lasted several days in February. That killed the buds on the peach trees. Ben Clark from Clarkdale Farms said that there may be some peaches very close to the coast, but not up here. Weather is certainly one of the hazards of farming.
Meet the Vendors—Skalbite Farms
Robert Skalbite, owner of Skalbite Farms has been farming his whole life. The farm in Monson has been in his family for 70 years. Robert’s dad died in 2009, and Robert took over; he always wanted to be a farmer.
At this time Robert is raising 15 belted Galloway cows; he wants to grow the farm to 40 cows someday. He also raises pigs and has 25 pigs on pasture.
Robert has a BS in Sustainable Food and Farming from UMASS’ Stockbridge School. In addition to farming he works as the assistant superintendent at the UMASS Hadley farm.
His fiancée Hanna has a degree from UMASS in biology. She helps on the farm and also works at Randall’s in Ludlow.
Upcoming Play at UU in Springfield
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is being performed by the Unity House Players on May 13th, 14th, 20th & 21st at 7:30 PM. May 15th and 22nd at 2 PM. General admission is $18, Students/seniors $15, if no advance ticket is purchased it’s $20 at the door. The UU is located at 245 Porter Lake Drive in Springfield. Go to Click4tix.com/unityhouse for tickets.
This ‘n’ That
The color of an egg’s shell has everything to do with the type of chicken that laid the egg. The nutritional value is the same egg to egg.
If you have cookbooks that you no longer use, bring them here to the market. We have a bin where people can drop off or take some free.
The most popular vegetables grown in home gardens are tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, beans, carrots, summer squash, onions, hot peppers, lettuce, peas and sweet corn.
If you have a recipe you’d like to share, bring it to the market table.
Tonight at 7 there is a local panel discussion that will examine the history of religious intolerance. Sounds interesting. It’s at the First Church of Christ on Longmeadow Street in Longmeadow. The exact title is “American Heretics: Catholics, Jews, Muslims and the History of Religious Intolerance.” This program is part of the Dialogues Across Divides series sponsored by Mass Humanities. It is free and open to all.
Makes about 20 muffins, or you can put the batter into a 9x5x3” loaf pan.
1 ½ cups brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ cups chopped raw rhubarb
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 T. butter
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup chopped nuts
Combine brown sugar, oil, egg, milk and soda. Add flour and salt to this mixture. Fold in rhubarb and nuts if using. Put into muffin cups, or into greased and floured loaf pan. Mix topping together, or sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top instead. Bake at 350 about one hour for loaf pan, or about 20 minutes for muffins.
Farms, Floods, and You From the Connecticut River Watershed Council newsletter
Farms rely on clean water and we rely on farms. The Connecticut River valley has some of the richest soils in the country thanks to ancient glaciers and the ongoing flow of our rivers. As long as rivers continue to flow through our lives, it is up to all of us to protect both the land and rivers.
TRINITY FARM: PLANTING THE ROOTS OF A SOLUTION
During the flooding of Tropical Storm Irene, Trinity Farm in Orford, NH had an acre of land wash downstream. The O’Donnell family, excited to be starting new careers as organic farmers, were concerned that such a massive loss of farmland could occur again, They contacted CRWC seeking advice on how to stabilize their land to prevent the same thing from happening in future storms. Ron Rhodes, River Steward for northern VT and NH suggested planting trees to stabilize the river banks. The root systems of trees and other plants hold onto soil and prevent erosion. Plants also help remove excess nutrients, pesticides, and other pollutants from water runoff before it reaches our rivers and streams. Even better, the plants provide habitat and food sources for wildlife and shade the river keeping it cool for fish.
Last October, a crew planted 240 native trees and shrubs along the Connecticut River protecting Trinity Farm from further erosion for decades to come. “We do things with a long-term intergenerational approach,” noted Rob O’Donnell. “CRWC puts this into action, preserving the quality of land and river for generations to come. CRWC came through in a way that far exceeded our expectations. We hope to do more with CRWC in the future.”
SNAP at the Market
We accept SNAP benefits at our market. Thanks to CISA (Community Involved in Supporting Agriculture) you will receive an additional $10 in tokens if you swipe your card for $10 or more. We also will give you a $2 token that you can use only for produce.
Our tokens don’t expire, so if you don’t use them all in one week, you can use them throughout the season. For those of you who get WIC coupons, I think that starts in June. Those of you who are elderly should contact your local senior center and get your name on the list for those coupons; they run out fast. I think those also get distributed in June.
The WIC coupons are only for produce, the Elder coupons are for produce and honey. If you have any left over from last year, throw them away; they don’t carry over from one year to another
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