From the Market Manager
Don’t you just love this time of year with all of the colors, and fresh fruit and vegetables coming to the market?
For the most part here in Western Mass, we don’t get lots of severe weather. Our droughts aren’t as severe or long-lasting as those in other parts of the country, we tend not to get 10+” of rain in one day, blizzards are few and far between, and while we get heat waves, they aren’t weeks long, etc.
The several day extreme (for us) cold that we had in February killed most of the peach tree buds, so we will have a very slight peach crop this year. For sure there are repercussions to the weather that we do have such as this, but for the most part that isn’t an every year type of thing.
We humans are good about complaining about weather, but for most of us too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry is just an inconvenience. But, for a farmer, it is way more than that. I know that there is such a thing as crop insurance. It is a program that protects against crops ruined due to weather, or due to revenue decline for commodities. The weather part we can understand. The revenue part works this way—if a wheat farmer has sold their crop for $3 a bushel, and the next year’s crop drops to $2 a bushel, they can receive an insurance payment to make up the difference. Crop insurance is sold through private companies with a portion of the premium, as well as the administrative and operating expenses of the private companies, subsidized by the federal government.
Welcome to two new vendors, Crooked Stick Pops and Holyoke Hummus. Crooked Stick will be here every other week, and Holyoke Hummus will be here every week.
Wasn’t Zoo on the Go fun last week? The rabbit they brought was bigger than many of the babies that were at the market.
It seems that some weeks we have lots of babies, and some weeks we have lots of dogs. All beautiful and welcome.
Meet the Vendors—Crooked Stick Pops
Crooked Stick Pops began when founder Julie Tuman thought of bringing the creativity and healthy fun of The Hyppo—a gourmet ice pop shop in Saint Augustine, Florida—to western Massachusetts. “When we go to Florida to stay with our close family friend, we literally go to The Hyppo every single day. Sometimes twice!” The Valley has plenty of amazing places to eat and drink. But it didn’t have ice pops. . . until now!
Her vision for Crooked Stick is to use fresh healthy ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible, to make brilliant flavors that are fun for families and creative and surprising enough to fascinate adults. Julie loves that her ice pops are as healthy as they are exciting. Welcome!
For the Garden
Basil is a versatile herb; it’s used all over the world. There are many varieties. Italian Genovese basil is the classic that’s used for Italian cooking and pesto making. Thai basil has an anise flavor, lemon basil tastes like citrus, cinnamon basil has purple flowers and a spicy taste, and spicy globe stays small and compact, perfect for a container.
Plant basil now that the soil is warm, either directly sowing seeds, or transplants. Thin plants so they are at least one foot apart. Pinch the tops when they’re young to stimulate the plant to branch out and get bushy. Eventually your basil will want to flower. You and our bee friends can enjoy the colorful blooms, or pinch the flowers out so the plant produces more leaves.
Harvest branches of basil rather than leaves. This will stimulate fewer, but bigger leaves to form.
Pesto freezes perfectly. Use a little pesto in a dressing for macaroni salad. Nice combination.
Frequent Shopper Cards
If you don’t have one, come to the market table and get one. Each time you’re at the market, stop by the market table and get it signed. After 6 trips to the market you’ll get a gift from the market.
If you have cookbooks you no longer use, bring them to the market to give away. We have a blue bin at the market table to put them in.
Each time you use your SNAP/EBT card at our market for $10 or more, you will get a bonus of $10 plus a $2 token from us. The $2 token is only to be used for produce, nothing else. The other EBT tokens can be used for food, or for plants that will grow food. We don’t sell seeds here, but you can use EBT for food seeds also.
This ‘n’ That
Did you know that beets and Swiss chard are from the same botanical family—silverbeet? Use the leafy part of chard the same way you would use spinach. Cook the stems a little first before adding the leaves. The beet greens can also be cooked. You can make a combination of them and cook together along with turnip greens and collards although collards take a lot longer to cook.
We have voter registration forms at the market table. Please register if you are old enough. You can also put in an address change on these forms. It is a privilege to vote; don’t throw yours away.
I’ve noticed that sweet corn is about a foot high in the fields. Soon, soon.
Make ice cubes with coffee or tea; your beverage won’t get diluted if you do that.
How Much do you Spend on Food?
The U.S. has one of the lowest percentage of family food costs in the world. I’m reading a book called “Material World, a Global Family Portrait” that features families from all over the world. One of the things they list for many families is the percentage of their income that they spend on food. Some listed are; Uzbekistan, 70%, Brazil, 55%, Japan, 30%, Guatemala, 66%, Argentina, 25%, Mexico 57%, and U.S. 11%.
We are talking about food, not all groceries. Take a look at your own basket when you go grocery shopping. How much of it is food, and how much of it is paper goods, cleaners, and all sorts of things that aren’t food.
Our farmers are excellent at providing good food for us. So, please don’t complain if you think your food bill is too high; it’s the rest of what you purchase that probably is.
You can put this into a pre-baked pie shell, or no pie shell at all.
1# fresh spinach, cooked, squeezed dry
1 12 oz. carton cottage cheese
1 cup grated cheddar or mozzarella or Swiss cheese
2 T. oil
1 tsp. onion or garlic salt
Combine all ingredients and pour into a lightly oiled 9” pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
Cream of Swiss Chard Soup
1 ¾ quarts hot chicken stock,
¾# chopped chard
3 oz. diced onion, 1 bay leaf, 3 oz. butter
3 oz. flour,
1 pint hot milk
½ pint hot light cream or half and half
salt and pepper to taste, ¼ tsp. nutmeg
Heat stock add chard, bay leaf & onion, simmer ½ hr.
Make roux with butter and flour, don’t brown.
Add stock (remove bay leaf) to roux gradually, stirring until slightly thickened and smooth. Simmer 30 minutes. Blend. Add heated milk and cream. Season & serve.
Remember to find us on Facebook!