From the Market Manager
Welcome to the first week of our 22nd year. We started with 5 vendors, and now we have close to 30. Outlook Farm is our only original vendor.
Lots of emphasis has been put on the value of purchasing local food. We are very fortunate in Massachusetts to still have farms and people who are willing to do the hard work of farming.
A report came out recently from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) about their 2017 Census of Agriculture. These censuses are done every 5 years.
Massachusetts followed the national trend of reductions of both number of farms and acres in farmland. There was also a decline in annual market value. All the New England states fared similarly although Mass. was at the high end in comparison to our New England neighbors.
The census’s definition of a farm is “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products are produced and sold, or normally would have been sold during the census year.”
Greenhouse and nursery products led the top of the list. Next are vegetables, then cranberries, milk, livestock and poultry, followed by other crops.
The sales of farm products in Hampden County is over 28 million dollars. Buying local is good for our economy.
As you know by now, the front entrance to the park is closed for 6 months while they repair the road. Evidently water has damaged the underpinnings of the road, so to keep it from collapsing, they are repairing it.
Here are some options for getting to our market if you don’t have your own vehicle:
Tri-Town Trolley—For Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, and Hampden residents. The cost is $2 each way for out of town transportation. To schedule a ride, call 525-5412 48-72 hours ahead of when you want the ride.
PVTA—Van service: call 739-7436, 1 to 7 days before you need the ride. You must be dropped off by 4:30, so plan accordingly. I think the cost is $2.50.
JCC—call 24 hours in advance to 372-9754. It’s $3 each way. The hours are 9-2, so you must make sure that you’re back home before 2 which is when the driver is done for the day.
We will pay for one way of your transportation; just come to the market table for your reimbursement.
The HIP program for those of you who have SNAP benefits, will return at the end of May. You will be able to use your benefits on May 28th. Keep at least $10 in your EBT account so that the vendor can access money for your purchases. They will not swipe your card if you have very little left in your account; they don’t have the time to do that.
Prior to that, we will give you an additional $10 in EBT coins that you purchase at the market table if you purchase $10 of them. The coins don’t expire, and you can use them for almost everything at the market. No prepared food, or alcohol though.
Recipe—Chicken and Chives
Chives are plentiful in the spring garden. This recipe uses quite a lot of them.
4 large boneless chicken breast halves
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 T. butter
2 T. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup chicken broth
2 T. brandy
2 T. Dijon mustard
½ cup finely chopped chives
3 T. chopped fresh parsley leaves
I cut the breasts across to make a thin filet; I don’t pound them. You can flour them first if you like.
1. Sprinkle breasts with salt and pepper
2. Heat the oil and butter together in a large sauté pan until the butter begins to foam
3. Add chicken breasts, arranging them in one layer. Cook over medium-high heat, turning once until the centers are still moist, but no longer pink. Transfer the breasts to a serving platter and set aside in a warm place.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to mix.
Cook over medium heat for 1 minute more until the mixture looks glossy and bubbles are breaking from the bottom of the pan. Pour over the breasts and serve right away.
5. Good with rice or noodles.
A Personal Note
I do not go through my life thinking that all is right with the world all the time. I don’t emphasize the negative. But I don’t understand such hatred such as occurred recently when so many people were killed and wounded in a mosque and synagogue. Even if a hundred people had been killed, how does that change the world in any way other than to make so many people sad and angry and scared?
I go to my synagogue regularly. I have thought of how easy it would be for someone to come in and do us harm. Why? Because we are Jewish. I know that I am not alone in thinking about someone harming me. Our history is such that for over 2,000 years we have been targets; it didn’t start with the Nazis. At our high holiday services, we have armed police officers. When I was a child, we didn’t have that, and I have to say that it’s off putting tome. I understand why, but still…
What value is there to our society (and the world in general) to have such hatred all around us? I don’t understand it. I know that the tendency is to say that the people who perpetrate such horrors are mentally ill.
Perhaps some of them are. But they have to be in the minority.
But, I suffered from depression for many years, and when I was truly in the depths, I didn’t think about killing anyone other than myself. How would that have helped me?
The Holocaust didn’t start with people being rounded up and put into concentration camps and then ovens. It started with good people going along with terrible ideas.
We must ALL do more to improve our society. Volunteer, let someone go at a traffic light, or in the grocery store, help your neighbor, donate food to the less fortunate. Bring someone who doesn’t drive to our market. Do something, anything. Make a friend who is a different race, religion, or ethnicity than yourself; expand your horizons. Let’s live in peace and harmony. Our world depends on it.
I recently learned that we shouldn’t recycle deodorant containers as they are often made of two kinds of plastic, some of which isn’t recyclable. Also, there is no market for glass, and the carry containers for glass beer bottles isn’t recyclable because it’s made of 2 different substances, one of which is plastic. The black containers that are used for frozen foods are also not recyclable.
Red Fire Farm has received certification for the Real Organic Project, a new add-on label helping to address major shortfalls in the current U.S.D.A. organic program. It is one of the first farms in the nation to earn the recognition according to owner Sarah Voiland. Farms certified under this project add-on label must grow plants in healthy living soil connected to bedrock and comply with key soil management standards, as well as having USDA organic certification as a base.
Hydroponic growing is prohibited for such certified farms. Organic livestock and poultry practices required for the certification include having daily year-round access to the outdoors with at least 50% vegetative cover during the growing season, one-time transition period
for dairy herds to organic, limits on animals per square foot indoors, and welfare rules preventing de-beaking and other practices.
“I think the practices included in the new label are practices our customers actually expect when buying organic—except right now there’s a lot of product in the market labeled as USDA organic that doesn’t meet those expectations,” said Sarah Voiland.
“The organic movement and certification process, while built on old principles, is very young,” she added. “We as farmers and eaters, have to clarify the rules to reflect what we want, so we are certifying under both the USDA and the Real Organic Project add-on label to show the public the importance of soil-based agriculture and animal welfare.”
Welcome Master Gardeners
They are here today to answer questions, and next week will do soil sampling from 12:30-3:30. Take soil from 4 different spots in your garden, mix it together and bring that for testing. $2 for the test.
If you’d like a gift certificate, just let us know. Or, you can purchase wooden coins to be used here, and give as a gift.
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