From the Market Manager
Welcome to year 20 of our fabulous market. We started in June 1998 with 5 vendors; Outlook Farm is our only original vendor. Initially I recruited everyone, but throughout the years it’s been a combination of potential vendors contacting me, and my asking someone if they wanted to join us.
I “found” Riverbend Farm one day when my mom and I were taking a ride up the Valley. We passed by a farm stand where a few people were sitting and making decorative hangers with Indian corn. That was the Wysk family. I asked them if they wanted to become part of our market, and the rest is history.
Trinity Farm was at a tiny market in Suffield. I had never been to that market previously, and we didn’t have any dairy farmers at our market, so I asked if they wanted to come to our market. Dale Smyth was in charge that day, and she said that she didn’t know, they were a small farm, etc. I told her to try us out. She didn’t call me that next week, so I went back to the market. She wasn’t there, but one of her children was, so once again I asked if they wanted to become part of our market. Eventually I was able to convince them to come to Springfield. Since then they have been selling not only with us, but with a couple of other farmers’ markets as well. They will tell you that I taught them a new way to do business.
I also recruited Red Fire Farm. Ryan was a tough sell. He finally agreed to become part of us, and that too is history.
When we started our market, there were 98 farmers’ markets in Massachusetts; today there are over 250. Some are tiny. Ours at just about 30 vendors is a good size for Massachusetts, but small by national standards.
The other day I was having a conversation with a friend who said that a friend of hers said that farmers’ markets are expensive. I’ve heard that before. Let’s pick this apart.
Understand that farms in New England, even large ones, are small by national standards. Small production farming is more costly; they do not have economy of scale as a farm that has hundreds of acres would. Economy of scale means that the larger you are (whether a farm or another business) the less it costs you to do business per unit of whatever it is that you are producing.
The food that we consume averages 1500 miles to get to us. So, it is reasonable to assume that what you purchase from any farmers’ market is fresher than what you might purchase at a grocery store. And, prices at a farmers’ market are often similar or less than a grocery store.
You will often find produce at a farmers’ market that you won’t find at a grocery store. Some things aren’t that popular, so a local farmer can afford to grow a small crop of whatever, and some things don’t travel very well. Remember that 1500 mile statistic.
Don’t confuse price and value. The food you purchase at a farmers’ market will last quite a while; you won’t have to dispose of it.
Welcome new Vendors
Round the Corner Brownie Co. Saltbox Seasonings. Sweet Chili. Elzire’s Acre Goat Milk Soap. Souper Sweet Sandwich Shop. New England Wild Edibles. Windy Ridge Farm.
Meet the Vendors
Round The Corner Brownie Company, from Amherst, is where Dawn LePere lovingly bakes her delicious gourmet brownies and blondies. Dawn started RTC Brownie Co. in February 2016 after 8 months of test-baking and lots of thoughtful planning. Dawn and her brownies have appeared on Mass Appeal, been featured in the food section of The Hampshire Gazette and been showcased on Brittany Murphy's Buzz Around Town on Western Mass News. In addition to traditional brownies and blondies, Dawn offers 3 gluten-free selections and a vegan brownie! For fun and for the true sweet tooth, she also offers chocolate dipped brownie bites and buttercream frosted mini brownies. Her market selection includes a combination of the following flavors: chocolate chip brownies, raspberry brownies, mocha white chocolate brownies, butterscotch blondies, GF peanut butter blondies, GF flourless chocolate brownies, GF caramelized white chocolate blondies and a vegan chocolate brownie. Don't miss out on these decadent treats!
Fiddleheads are the coiled top of a fern plant. Most of the fiddleheads that we eat are from the oyster fern. Fiddleheads are an early spring crop, and are only in season for a very short time.
The taste of fiddleheads is hard to describe. Some say that they taste like a combination of asparagus and young spinach. You have to wash them in multiple changes of water to get them clean. Then you can blanch them for a couple of minutes and then stir fry or steam them. Or, if you are blanching, just keep them in the hot water a little while longer. Garlic and olive oil are a good combination for stir-frying. Enjoy!
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle
Rinse clean and recycle with bottles and cans. Acceptable items include aluminum pie pans and take out containers, disposable roaster pans, and clean foil.
Arts, crafts and hobby. Some paints and related materials are hazardous and should be brought to a hazardous waste collection. Always check the label before tossing into the trash.
Asbestos. There are strict removal and disposal requirements for asbestos. To find licensed asbestos contractors, go to mass.gov and type asbestos license lists into the search bar, then click asbestos contractor list. There are a few companies in our area. Automotive products.
Automotive products contain many hazardous materials and must be handled with care. NEVER dump in the trash, on the ground, or down the drain.
Baby food pouches or fruit snack packets. They are not recyclable. Terracycle runs several different mail-in recycling programs for pouches and caps. Whole Foods in Hadley takes all kinds of pouches and their caps. All leftover food has to be removed first.
There is a household hazardous waste collection this coming Saturday, May 6th for Springfield residents only. Call 787-7840 for more details and to make an appointment.
New this Year
If you do not have a park pass, in order to get in free to the park, you must enter through the Trafton Road entrance. Come in that entrance and take a right. There is a 2 week grace period to come in via Sumner Avenue, but after that if you don’t have a pass, you will have to pay. The park pass is for any park with an entry fee.
EBT Bonus, etc.
If you swipe your EBT card for $10 or more in the month of May, you will receive an additional bonus of $10. THIS IS ONLY FOR THE MONTH OF MAY. A new program called HIP—Healthy Incentive Project will start soon. It is being implemented by the Department of Transitional Assistance. If you have not already received a letter from them, you will soon. HIP is a program to help people who use SNAP benefits to eat healthier food.
What’s in Season?
The weather determines whether or not we have asparagus at our first market. There is a little bit available in the Valley, but who knows if we will have any ourselves. Greens and radishes always make an early appearance. Mushrooms will be available. This year we will have several varieties. And don’t forget to get some fiddleheads. If you haven’t had them, I encourage you to try them. I wonder who discovered that the fronds of a fern plant tasted good when they were cooked. I wonder about a lot of that stuff like who determined that if you boiled the clear almost imperceptibly sweet liquid that comes out of a maple tree that it would be delicious.