From the Market Manager
Good news! From now on any of you who need to use the Sumner Avenue entrance for the market can do so for $1. Then you can come to the market table and get reimbursed. The Trafton Road entrance is still free.
Our market will be open on July 4th for a shorter time, 12-3. Many of our vendors won’t be here, so plan accordingly when buying for your barbecue the week before.
The maple syrup season was a good one in Massachusetts this year. 84,000 gallons of syrup was produced, 7,000 gallons more than last year.
HIP—Healthy Incentives Program
HIP is Massachusetts’ implementation of a $3.4 million Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant from the USDA. The program addresses the primary barrier to accessing fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income families: the affordability of high quality, nutritious foods.
The new HIP benefit will be available to SNAP families statewide beginning this spring for a three-year period. The HIP incentive benefit has a monthly cap based on household size; it’s either $40, $60, or $80. Households will need to spend HIP dollars on fruits and vegetables at
one of the four main points of sale to earn HIP incentives.
When a SNAP customer swipes their SNAP/EBT card for fruit and vegetable purchases, an equal amount of incentive funds is immediately and automatically added back to their cards for any future SNAP purchase at any SNAP retailer up to the monthly cap. For example, if a family uses their SNAP benefits to buy $15 of fresh produce at a farmers’ market, a credit of $15 will be immediately returned to their EBT card to use for other eligible purchases.
HIP is only for use at participating farmers’ market vendor stalls, farm stands, mobile markets, and CSAs with customers receiving an instant, dollar for dollar match credited to their EBT card through specially programmed SNAP systems, e.g. EBT terminals up to their monthly maximum for HIP.
If you do not use your HIP benefit each month, you lose it, but if you do use it, the money that goes back to your EBT card can be used up to a year.
1 cup flour
¾ cup uncooked rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup melted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 cups diced rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
2 T. cornstarch or minute tapioca
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until crumbly. Press half of crumbs into 9” square or 11 x7” pan. Cover with rhubarb. In a saucepan combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, water, and vanilla and cook, stirring, until thick and clear—about 10 minutes. Pour over rhubarb, top with remaining crumbs, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cut into squares and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Hanging on by Their Teeth by Richard Haley/New Canaan Nature Center
Natural selection knows a good thing when it sees it. An effective set of adaptations can help a group of plants or animals to spread and occupy many different niches in the environment. Among the mammals there is one remarkably successful group—these are the rodents.
Of the roughly 4,000 species of mammals in the world, about 1,700, more than 40%, are rodents. They include mice, rats, squirrels, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, beavers, porcupines, woodchucks and others. What classifies an animal as a rodent? Teeth.
All rodents have 4 teeth in the front of their mouths, then a large gap, and several teeth in back. While the back molars can vary, the front incisors are very much the same: sharp, curved, chisel-shaped tools that never stop growing. The two incisors on top and the two on the bottom are ground together to keep the edges sharp— and to gnaw.
Beavers use their incisors to cut down trees. Porcupines strip off tree bark to eat, and have been known to ravage the boots and pack frames of sleeping back packers in search of salt left by perspiration. Rats can even chew their way through metal pipes to find water.
Teeth aren’t the only reason for the success of rodents; they are also prolific breeders. The white-footed mouse, the common woodland mouse of our area, can bear 4 or more litters a year, each consisting of 4 to 6 young. Well within that year, a mother’s daughters will start having babies of their own. With several generations around, a single pair of mice can wind up having hundreds of descendants living at the same time as themselves.
If you get mice in your house, don’t use poison. They go outside in search of water, and die. Owls and other large birds can pick them up and be poisoned in the process.
Use a mouse trap; they love peanut butter.
3 Tips for Helping Bees Thrive in Your Yard by Christy Erickson
There has been a lot of buzz about bees lately, and the news that they are dying in large numbers should be alarming to everyone. CNN reports that United States beekeepers lost 44% of their honey bee colonies from April 2015 to April 2016 and that beekeepers in the United Kingdom lost nearly 17% of theirs. Scientists believe pollinators like bees are in danger because of pesticide use, climate change, foreign pests, diseases, and loss of habitat. The result could be that we lose the pollinators who keep our plants and trees alive, which would mean that we would lose foods like honey, almonds, apples, avocados, and so on. In fact, nearly 33%
of the food we consume is directly related to bees’ pollinating work. The good news is, there are some things that all of us can do to help bees, and it starts in our own yards.
1. Plant a Bee-Friendly Garden
One of the best ways to help bees thrive in your yard is to plant a bee-friendly garden. The key is to plant flowers
that are indigenous to your area to feed bees and help other pollinators. Your garden will invite bees to pollinate your flowers and improve your harvest of fruits and vegetables if you grow them in your yard, too. As you are choosing indigenous flowers, narrow your selection even more to those that are best for bees including single flower tops such as daisies and marigolds. Doubleheaded flowers and hybrid plants do not produce much pollen for bees.
It’s also important to plant at least three different types of flowers to keep it blooming as long as possible to give bees and other pollinators a constant food source. Flowers that bloom in spring include crocus, hyacinth, and wild lilac. In the summer, bees prefer bee balm, Echinacea, snapdragons, and hosta. Fall bloomers include zinnias, asters, witch hazel, and goldenrod.
2. Mix Flowers and Edible Plants
Of course, bee-friendly gardens don’t need to include only flowers. Edible gardens are another way to welcome bees into your yard, and when you pair an edible garden with a flower garden, you are sure to have enough pollinators in your yard to help your vegetables and herbs thrive. If you are short on yard space, you can grow vegetables in planters or containers. You also can mix flowers, such as bee balm, lavender, purple cornflower, salvia, and verbena, with edible plants. One trick is to plant in clusters of three or more plants to attract more bees.
3. Use Natural Pesticides and Non-Toxic Materials to Keep Out Pests
Even gardeners with the best intentions can undo their hard work to invite bees into their yards if they use toxic pesticides like neonicotinoids. One answer is to use natural pesticides and fertilizers. It’s important to note that even organic pesticides can be toxic to bees, so you should opt for the least toxic products. Those that are made from plants and natural materials are the best including Bacillus thuringiensis, garlic, kaolin clay, corn gluten, and gibberellic acid.
Pesticides harm bees in several ways, so you should use them only when necessary. If you have to use pesticides, apply them to affected plants only and when the plants are not in bloom. It’s also better to apply pesticides late in the evening when the bees are inactive and to spray pesticides during dry conditions because dew may retain the toxins.
One alternative to pesticides is preventing problems before they start. You can use floating row covers to allow water and sun in while preventing pests from getting to your plants. You also can hand pick bugs from your garden and drop them in a bucket of soapy water.
Gardeners also may rely on paper collars around young seedlings to prevent cutworms and soil-dwelling pests from getting to them. Another option is to put crumpled aluminum foil under plants to reduce the number of cutworms, slugs, and snails affecting your plants. It’s also helpful to plant flowering herbs like dill, angelica, cilantro, and basil that invite beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and praying mantises to your garden.