From the Market Manager
We have had a cold spring, and many of us who like to plant a garden, are complaining about it. Imagine, if you will, how difficult weather can be for farmers. Last year there were no peaches because of below normal temperatures in February that killed the buds on peach trees. And, the apple crop was smaller also. There wasn’t as much rain as there had been the previous year when there was a bumper crop.
In talking with Brad Morse from Outlook Farm last week, he said his orchards are looking good, and he thinks that they are out of the woods re: a late frost.
Several years ago, when my now 19 year-old grandson Evan was 5, I gave him a peach that I had purchased 2 days earlier from Outlook Farm. They hadn’t been in the ‘fridge at my house since I bought them. A few hours later I picked Alex, my other grandson, up from school, and offered him a peach. He didn’t want one whereupon Evan said, “Alex, you really should have one. You can smell the inside from the outside.” That, friends, is the essence of a local peach and local produce in general. While you may not smell the inside from the outside in other produce, you certainly have the best flavor possible.
BING Arts Center
The Bing has been transformed. Not the back where we used to view movies, but the front. Brian Hale with a great deal of help from his wife Deanna Chrislip, has worked tirelessly to give us a venue where live music, films, special events, workshops, and exhibits are held. The sponsoring organization is the Main Street Corporation, so the Bing is a non-profit and any contributions are deductible. If you haven’t been, I encourage you to go there. The music is rock, jazz, country, blues, classical and more.Pick up a brochure at our market table for a full schedule of their events. The BING is a treasure; keep it in the neighborhood. And contribute something if you can.
New this Year
If you do not have a park pass, in order to get in free to the park for the market, you must enter through the Trafton Road entrance. Come in that entrance and take a right. The grace period to come in via Sumner Avenue is over, so if you don’t have a pass, you will have to pay. The park pass is for any park with an entry fee.
These are the park pass fees:
• Senior Springfield resident--$7
• Springfield resident--$13
• Massachusetts resident, not Springfield--$23
• Out of state resident--$28
You can purchase a pass at the administration building just inside the Sumner Avenue entrance every day until 3:30.
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. You will get money each month put onto your EBT card that can be used at a farmers’ market or a
farm stand for produce only.
Meet the Vendors—Velma’s Kettle Corn
Well for starters, Velma's Wicked Delicious Kettle Corn is free-range, organic, low-fat, boneless, dolphin-safe, freetrade, gourmet, micro-brew & chardonnay compatible (if you're over 21). Steve started that “schtick” the 1st year with just "free-range + organic" and added a few each year to get into the "corny" carnival atmosphere they try to project under the yellow tent. This is their 11th year and it has become a real family business with everyone from his 19 year-old twins Nolan & Julia, 15 year-old Bridget and his wife Kelly helping out. He says that his
kids have kind of grown up in his yellow tent.
Velma's is a very simple product made of corn, corn oil, sugar, salt & 800 degrees of love. In all seriousness Velma's is non-GMO, gluten-free and safe for people with nut allergens. They have used granulated maple sugar a couple of times. Other than that, nothing else has been cooked in Velma's kettle.
This has become something between a hobby, a parttime gig & a labor of love. Steve’s full time job is managing the city's public access TV station, which is highly technical & arduous at times. Making Velma's is a simple process that he enjoys.
Steve started the business in 2008 with his friend Eric Bickernicks who he worked with in Boston. Eric had the equipment and was close to perfecting the recipe when he asked if Steve could think of a place to sell it. He thought of our market. His twins were born in April 1998 one month before the 1st Market and they’ve been coming ever since. He was a teacher at the time and offered to help Eric start the business as he had summers off. The experience at the market was so positive that he stayed with it. He loves our customers, thinks they are great, and his fellow vendors have turned into weekly neighbors and very good friends. After their 6th year his
partner Eric moved to the Cape, so Steve bought a trailer, a 160-quart kettle, related equipment and has been popping ever since.
The best part of the gig is giving away free samples, especially to little kids. According to Steve, he says the free sample helps adults make informed vegetable/food decisions - the kids stay quiet & eat while the parent shops. People say he’s very nice to give free samples....but he disagrees that it has anything to be with being nice (which he is by the way). Over 75% of the free samples usually lead to a sale.
It took about 3 years to get proficient and truly become "expert poppers". The equipment & timing is the key to making a good product. The weather plays a role too, with cool and dry weather being the most optimal conditions to pop. When it's extremely humid and hot, they have to quickly get it sealed or it turns to mush. It also turns to mush in the hot weather and they avoid popping when it's over 93 degrees.
Besides the FPFM, they pop at music events, beer festivals, Revolutionary & Civil War re-enactments and they follow some ski races in the winter. He is especially grateful for the work of his son Nolan and daughter Bridget. They are the most involved family members and can do pretty much everything except back the trailer down their skinny driveway. Their neighbor Alex Foley is like Steve’s adopted son under the tent and he's been doing an excellent job for the last couple of years. Says Steve, “I'm grateful for their help and for so many good people to hang out with every Tuesday at the FPFM.”
This ‘n’ That
• Take a plastic bag with you when you go for a walk and pick up litter.
• Greet a new neighbor with something homebaked.
• Join your neighborhood association.
• In Springfield call 311 for DPW bulk pickups, code violations, and general information. Some
code violations are litter, trash, overgrown grass and bushes, icy and snow-packed sidewalks, unregistered cars on residential property, broken windows, missing or broken gutters or downspouts, broken or rotted steps,lack of porch or hall lights, etc.
They have a summer schedule that starts June 14th. Go to majestictheater.com for details.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Books—Books in good condition may be sold at used bookstores, donated to public libraries (ask first), or a book exchange. Paperback books and phone books can be recycled in municipal programs. Non-paperbacks need to have the hard covers removed. Don’t donate any text books to book sales; they don’t want them. Also, if a book is too old to be enjoyed, recycle it, don’t give it to a book sale.
Bottle caps and Lids—Plastic caps and lids are recyclable only if fastened to a plastic bottle/jar/jug/tub. Loose tops should be placed in the trash; small items cause safety hazards and shutdowns at recycling facilities because they get caught in the sorting equipment. Metal lids are acceptable for recycling (loose or attached to the container.)
Boxes—Clean cardboard, boxboard, paperboard boxes are recyclable. Discard plastic liners. Flatten boxes. The clean portions of pizza boxes can be recycled, but the greasy parts must be discarded or composted. Frozen food boxes such as ice cream cartons, case boxes from soda or beer, and kitty litter boxes aren’t acceptable in recycling or composting. They are made with wetstrength paper, a special plastic-reinforced material that keeps them from falling apart when wet. They don’t break down in the paper recycling, or composting process, and must go in the trash.
HELP SAVE THE PLANET—RECYCLE, REUSE, REDUCE
Be sure to Follow Us On Facebook!