From the Market Manager
Last week was a good first week for the market. The rain held off until 6. It was good to see so many familiar faces, some of whom we see at the winter market.
One of the neat things about any farmers’ market is that every week is different because the produce is seasonal. We don’t allow our vendors to bring in any produce that isn’t from Massachusetts. The 2 dairies that come to our market (Trinity Farm from Enfield, and Sweet Pea Cheese from N. Granby) come from Connecticut. If you’ve been coming to our market for a number of years, you know by now what the growing season is for produce.
Because so much produce is available in grocery stores year-round, many people don’t know when things are in season. Sometimes I’m asked for strawberries or corn, and I have to inform the person asking when they will be at our market due to our only having local produce.
Out of season produce may be good, but seasonal produce is superior. What compares to native tomatoes, or corn, or peaches?
We have a new sponsor for our market—Glenmeadow. Glenmeadow’s nonprofit mission is to serve older adults, offering a continuum of care and services to help you stay independent, whether you live in your own home, or in one of the apartments on our campus. They can help you thrive in the place you call home. They have a component called Glenmeadow at Home. Check them out.
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, and it’s for elderly, or disabled.
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 at least $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—Cheese-filled Asparagus Roll Canapes
Makes 3 dozen
12 stalks asparagus, preferably fat ones
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 oz. blue cheese
12 very thin slices good-quality white bread (Pepperidge Farm makes a thin white bread)
8 T. melted butter (one stick)
1. Trim the tough ends off the asparagus, leaving the stalks long enough to reach end to end on the bread slices. Cook the asparagus in boiling water until barely bendable and still bright green. Drain and set aside.
2. Combine the cream cheese, blue cheese, and egg in a small bowl. Trim the crusts off the bread and flatten the slices with a rolling pin or the palm of your hand. Spread each slice with the cheese mixture, place an asparagus stalk on top of the cheese at the edge of the slice, and roll up to enclose the asparagus. Dip the roll in melted butter and then lay them on an ungreased cookie sheet as you go.
3. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes or until the rolls are almost frozen.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
5. Cut each roll into thirds and bake for 15 minutes turning once until golden and toasty.
Serve while still warm.
A variation of this is to sauté finely chopped mushrooms and onions with some garlic, salt, and pepper. Add some sour cream to make it spreadable, and continue baking the same way. You can leave these whole.
Welcome Master Gardeners
They are here today to answer questions, and will do soil sampling from 12:30-3:30. $2 for the soil testing.
If you’d like a gift certificate, just let us know. Or, you can purchase wooden coins to be used here, and give those as a gift.
Springfield Preservation Trust
The Trust will hold its annual Preservation Awards Ceremony TODAY to honor individuals and organizations that help restore and preserve historic places in Springfield.
The event, which is open to the public, will take place at 5PM in the Forum at the Ira H. Rubenzahl Student Learning Commons at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC.)
You may not think about how important it is to preserve historic places, but the diversity of your town or city depends on this. In recent years I was in Burlington, VT and Portland, ME. Two things “hit me” when I was there; the cleanliness of each city, and the number of lovely old buildings that were preserved. The cities were interesting.
If you are a crafter and would like to vend at the market on occasion, let us know.
Become a Sponsor of the Market
Most of the money for our market comes from vendor fees. We have raised the fees several times over the 22 years that we’ve been in existence; we are reluctant to raise them too often. Most of our vendors are small business owners, so paying more is not easy for them.
We do accept contributions, but now we are going to try for a different level of contributors, mainly sponsors. Although we’d love it if someone offered us thousands of dollars, we’re realistic and know that that is not likely to happen. However, perhaps some of you could donate $500, or you could ask the business for which you work if they would be willing to do so. Our sponsor, Concerned Citizens for Springfield is a nonprofit. The market is a program of theirs.
Some of you probably don’t know that at one time asparagus from the Pioneer Valley was world-renowned for its quality. Evidently the sandy loam soil here is good for growing this perennial.
It takes 3 years for asparagus to begin producing for harvest, and then it can continue for about 20 years or more. The season is about 6 weeks long only.
Hadley “grass” as the crop is still called in these parts, (it’s short for sparrow grass, a corruption of asparagus popular in the 17th and 18th centuries) was once a mainstay of the local economy and an important source of community spirit. (Hadley got top billing because most Massachusetts asparagus was grown here, and it was reputed to be the finest.)
Unfortunately, in the mid-70s, a soil-borne fungus known as Fusarium attacked and destroyed the seemingly inexhaustible Mary Washingtons (the standard variety). Production plummeted, and field after field was plowed under. Some farmers kept the crop in production, and eventually planted newer, disease resistant hybrids, but this investment proved too expensive and time-consuming for most. Now total production is about a tenth of what it used to be. Enjoy it while we have it.
Welcome to our new Vendors
Bousquet Smoke House—smoked butter and cheese
Home Fruit Wine—many varieties of fruit wine
Macken’s Sliders—food truck
Pitchfork Farm—duck goose, chicken eggs, bison, elk—market bags
This ‘n’ That
When you go for a walk, bring a bag with you and pick up some litter.
Have numbers on your house that can be read from the street.
Take down lost animal and tag sale signs even if they’re not your signs.
Welcome a new neighbor with something special.
Pick up your dog’s poop even here at the market.
A dollar donated to the Food Bank can buy $13 of food.
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