From the Market Manager
Sometimes this newsletter almost writes itself, other times (like this week) I sit at my computer and stare and think. I am sitting here with a sweatshirt and slippers on because it’s chilly. I don’t want it to be in the 90s, but I sure wouldn’t mind low 80s. We humans can’t do anything about the weather, but we sure complain a lot about it.
A couple of years ago I went to the Tenement Museum in New York City on the Lower East Side. Tenements were a common place for immigrants and other poor people to live; they were very crowded. In the tenement I toured, there was running water in each (small) apartment, but the toilet facilities (a privy) were down on the first level in a courtyard.
I have always lived in a house. The house I live in now, and for the last 33 years, was built in 1927. It is 1687 square feet, built solidly, on a nice street with a small yard (50’ x 100’ a common size city lot in those days); large enough and small enough.
When I came home from NY that day, all I could think of was that I lived in a palace by comparison to the tenement. I try not to take my good fortune for granted. To live in a community where I can turn on a faucet and get clean water, where I don’t have to use a privy, where all I have to do is flip a switch to get electricity, or turn a knob on my stove to get gas to cook with, is a privilege.
Likewise (and you probably knew I’d get here) we shouldn’t take our farmers for granted. Not just here in Massachusetts and Connecticut, but all over. While many of us try to eat as locally as possible, due to where we live, much of our food that we consume year-round does come from someplace else. It is said that the food on our plates travels an average of 1500 miles to get to us. By buying as much as we can locally, we cut down on our carbon footprint. We have fresher food, we have more variety, and we help our local economy. This is truly the trickle-down effect.
Mt. Warner Winery isn’t here this week, but will return next week.
Elzire Acre’s Goat Milk Soap is absent for 2 weeks.
My Main Squeeze will return in June.
Meet the Vendors—Phuong’s Asian Vegetables
Phuong Thach was born in Travinh, South Vietnam and came to the U.S. in 1985 settling in Richmond, VA. They (she and her husband) stayed in Richmond only 6 months, and came to Springfield because they knew people here. In 1982, her husband’s relatives had settled here and they needed help.
Her husband got a job almost right away, then got another one as well. In 1988 Phuong worked at Hasbro where she stayed for almost 23 years.
Her family in Vietnam had a big farm where they raised rice and all kinds of fruit and vegetables. After getting laid off from Hasbro she continued growing in her back yard and on rented land as well. In addition to her vegetables, she makes some Vietnamese specialties that she brings to the market.
Phuong is married and has 3 adult children.
Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
CORKS—Don’t put them into recycling; put them in the trash.
EGG CARTONS—Clear plastic cartons may be recycled with bottles and cans. Paper, & Styrofoam egg cartons aren’t recyclable, but you can give them to any of the vendors at our market who sell eggs. (the clear plastic ones also.) They are happy to have them.
COOKING OIL AND OTHER FATS—Don’t pour any fat down the drain. There are places that accept cooking oil, but probably in larger amounts than we would have in our homes.
FERTILIZERS AND PESTICIDES—Wait for hazardous household recycling days in your town or city, and take them there.
TOOTHBRUSHES—Throw into trash. They are too small to recycle.
CD plastic covers—Don’t recycle, throw away.
Gardening for Pollinators
By Hampden County Beekeepers
• Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall. Help pollinators find
and use them by planting in clumps rather than single plants. Include plants native to our region. Natives are adapted to our local climate, soil and native pollinators. Don’t forget that nightblooming flowers will support moths and bats.
• Avoid modern hybrid flowers especially those with “doubled” flowers. Often plant breeders have unwittingly left the pollen, nectar, and fragrance out of these blossoms while creating the “perfect” blooms for us.
• Eliminate pesticides whenever possible. If you must use a pesticide, use the least toxic material possible. Read labels carefully before purchasing as many pesticides are especially dangerous for bees. Use the product properly. Spray at night when bees and other pollinators aren’t active.
• Include larval host plants in your landscape. If you want colorful butterflies, grow plants for
their caterpillars. They will eat them, so place them where unsightly leaf damage can be tolerated. Accept that some host plants are less than ornamental. Plant a butterfly garden!
• Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees. Use a dripping hose, drip irrigation line, or place your bird bath on bare soil to create a damp area Mix a small bit of table salt or wood ashes into the mud.
• Spare that limb—By leaving dead trees on or at least an occasional dead limb, you provide essential sites for native bees.
This ‘n’ That
Did you know that there are over 1200 varieties of hosta? I read recently that hosta leaves are edible.
Don’t feed bread to ducks or geese. It isn’t their natural food, and it isn’t good for them. It can have many negative effects on them. Instead feed them cracked corn, chopped vegetables, oats, wheat, barley or similar grains. Or nothing. Just enjoy watching them.
Put Illumination Night on your calendar. It is held the night before Fathers’ Day on a terraced street in our neighborhood, so this year that will be June 17th. It’s free. Music, decorated porches to enjoy, and more.
Strawberry shortcake is sold, so I hope by then the temperature has warmed enough to ripen the berries. I will let you know in next week’s newsletter where it will be.
If you have SNAP benefits, you can use them to purchase plants that will grow food including herbs.
Some herbs are perennials. Chives, oregano, marjoram, sage, and thyme are a few that come back.
Forest Park Summer Concert Series
The Parks Department will be holding a free summer concert series this June. On Thursdays June 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd at 6:30 PM in the Forest Park Amphitheater (near the duck ponds). In case of rain the location will be at Central High School.
• June 1st & 15th, Dee Reilly
• June 8th, Leon Spradley
• June 22nd, the Manzi Family Band
Trinity Church, the big church right next to the park, has their concert series every Thursday in July. 6PM is the music, and then after that a supper is served for a donation.
Orzo is pasta that is shaped like rice. You certainly can make this with any pasta, but it’s terrific with orzo. You can add cooked chicken or shrimp to it; shrimp is best. If you use one box of orzo (1#) it will make 3+ quarts of salad.
Grape or cherry tomatoes
Greek olives or another type of flavorful olive
Red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
Cook orzo, drain. Cut up tomatoes, scallions, and olives.
Crumble up feta cheese. Add vinegar and olive oil to taste.
You use as much of anything as you like. I used a small box of tomatoes, several olives, and close to a bunch of scallions, and at least 8 oz. of cheese. Mix it all together and let it set awhile to blend the flavors.
Don’t serve it right from the fridge; it’s best served room temperature.
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