Hi, hey, and hello!
It’s the last day of April and looking mighty nice outside. We will have temps in the 70s over the next three days with thunderstorms possibly dampening our first day in Towson, MD. That’s right-we have our season kickoff tomorrow at The Shoppes at Kenilworth in Towson from 3:30 to 6:30 PM! It’s a lovely little market with phenomenal produce, delicious grass raised meats, herbs, flowers, and the tastiest treats by Ruth (our market neighbor) I have looked upon in my short and silly life.
The Kenilworth market runs from May 1 to the week of Thanksgiving in the parking lot of the Kenilworth Mall. I really like the feel of this market-the vendors are all friendly and enjoy good relationships. It has a small town feel. Dog and kid friendly-what a deal. But to top it all off, Atwater’s Bakery and Restaurant is nearby and makes use of the available produce every week! They incorporate the fresh finds into their menu and strive to accomplish this at their many locations. Since I can diminish the swell of my Black & White in mere seconds, and eat there almost weekly, I heartily encourage you to sample their wares when you pass through. They even have a bread stand at the market-it also appears at our Silver Spring, MD location, too! You can visit their website here: http://atwaters.biz/
One of our good friends and neighboring vendor is One Straw Farm and CSA. They should arrive at our market the second week of June and have a smorgasbord of options. Joan and Drew Norman work diligently to uphold their personal and professional standard of organic practices, and push that standard when they find innovative technology in the field. Ben speaks very highly of them and I am impressed with Joan’s tenacity and warmth every time I see her. Visit their site at: http://www.onestrawfarm.com/index.html
In other GREAT NEWS: We open our season at Headhouse in Philly this Sunday (May 6th) at 10am! It is a packed market with a long list of stellar vendors, a wide range of products, and a great downtown location. It’s a great place to shop for fruits, veggies, canned goods, flowers, pastries, and then eat at one of the food trucks/stands! It’s in the heart of historic Philly, with gorgeous brick houses leading out to the waterfront if you are the wandering type. This is Ben’s baby and a huge reason for him returning to the farm and starting these markets. It you want to catch a family affair, join him this Sunday and meet his charming mother, Emily, his soon-to-be brother in law, Russ, and family friend, Erica! The market hours are 10 AM to 2 PM, but the best produce is yours for the picking when you arrive at the START of market. Always keep this in mind at the peak of summer-all soft fleshed fruit should be snatched immediately so you can wash and cool it! We tried to ask our customers to bring Tupperware to market last year to store their berries…it works better than jostling around in the display cartons we use. I plan on writing a blog in the future about canning since it’s staging a comeback among the younger generation-YAY! Even washing and freezing your fruits when you get home increases its staying power and offers you tasty summery options in the dark days of winter.
Alrighty then-we covered this week’s new markets but what about the second week of May? I have answers! May 9th marks the start of Farmers on the Square OUTSIDE market in Carlisle, PA. Running from 3 PM to 7 PM, we will be taking over the front courtyard of the gorgeous stone Presbyterian Church on Carlisle Square. Very kid friendly, with activities for them and space to run around, parents, grandparents, and young alike can browse to their heart’s content. We have the Dickenson Farm, Pretty Meadow, Roots (cut flowers), pastries, chicken and eggs and jars of goodies from the Otterbeins, and several more vendors! This market runs outside until late October and then moves inside on the Dickenson Campus.
If you like the vendors and feel of Farmers on the Square, then please come out this Thursday (May 3rd) to the Farmers on Walnut interest meeting held at the Cleve J. Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill at 6:30 PM. We have been pursuing a market at the Library in Camp Hill with resistance from a small number of residents, who believe that we will bring large crowds, large farm equipment, and a lack of safety to their quiet neighborhood. We have been feverishly working to dispel these fears (to limited success) at monthly Council meetings, but if you haven’t made it before, please attend the Library meeting to get a general idea of what is offered at a farmer’s market, chip in your opinion, and support fresh local produce in Camp Hill in a safe neighborhood. We also need experience farmer market attendees to speak up because some people are saying that baked goods and other non-fresh items have “no place or purpose” at a farmers market. Say whaaaaaaaaat??! Please visit the Library website for more info and the address: http://www.cumberlandcountylibraries.org/index.aspx?nid=88
If you live in the Camp Hill area and would like to attend a Thursday market from 3 PM to 7 PM from May 24th until November, show up and speak up! Our main goal is for a market to happen in Camp Hill, with baked goods and a variety of vendors. Please help us achieve that goal-one that adds to the health and happiness of Camp Hill’s residents.
On May 12th, we begin our weekly trip to Fell’s Point in Baltimore, MD! It’s the 2nd annual Fell’s Point Farmer’s Market running 7:30 AM to Noon , May through October! You can visit their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fells-Point-Farmers-Market/177166742337662 to see the impressive vendor list, check out nearby restaurants (it’s so worth it), and see the gorgeous view of the waterfront! Our stand is run by Josh, a long term stellar employee, Shane (2 years of air-guitar EXCELLENCE), and Pam (a very lovely lady poached from our Towson market). Check out the good looks and better tasting produce in two weeks! Extra incentive: the genius popcorn vendor from Silver Spring (Capitol Kettle Corn) will be at the market with his amazing Ethiopian mix. I ate 2 bags. 2 BAGS. I haven’t eaten popcorn like that since the Lion King, folks. I ate it. All. Ohhh, drool.
If that doesn’t bring you in, then I’m out of ideas. Wait, no I’m not. Because it’s Apple Blossom Festival on May 5th and 6th!!! If you love apples and supporting the industry that works hard to provide tasty and beautiful apples, join us at the South Mountain Fairgrounds this weekend to eat too many delicious items, shop handcrafted gifts for Mama, watch clogging, local musicians (BLUEGRASS-YES.), and cheer on the Apple Queen candidates. Shout out to the Baugher clan-OO Yeah! For a full list of vendors, activities, and a description of our orchard tours, go to the festival site: http://www.appleblossomfestival.info/. Dave Wenk will be hosting Orchard tours on Sunday, I shall be there helping with my pet project, Crunch Quest, and if those aren’t great reasons to attend-besides oodles of free parking, I am at a loss. If you have kids or just love scavenger hunts, come out for Crunch Quest-a scavenger hunt for all ages-but particularly those 4-11-and learn about Apples For Health. This is the second year that the Adams County Fruit Growers Associate, Penn State Extension, and WellSpan have partnered to design and host this activity for children to become more aware about apples and their own health. I had the lucky opportunity to design (with many necessary and appreciated suggestions) the Quest and I sure as heck hope that it learns ya good.
Well. That was a lot of info and I bet your reeling. No? Well then, aren’t you a smarty?
Yes you sure are-because you’re following a farm blog and becoming more informed about what you eat and how it gets to your table. Good for you! Now get out there, conquer the day and the carp, and attend some community festivities this weekend!
Hola hola, rabble-rousers!<-------- Boy, do I like that word.
I'm pretty excited right now as I sit and look out the window at our flowering apple trees-never mind the grey sky! Because it's ASPARAGUS season! Forget that I spent several dedicated years trying to mow over our asparagus patch at the old house as a teen, forget that I lied when asked about the uniform sleekness of the patch...multiple times. None of that matters because now I am a quasi adult and spontaneously like my vegetables. Except, of course, mushrooms. Bluurgh is all I have to say on that subject.
But I digress.
Really folks, it's a wonderful thing to eat, look at, and grow. The darn thing is a wonder; shooting spears at 6-8 inches a day at its prime off of its underground crown, which can live as long as 20 years! So I bet that patch is still going strong back at the old house....
For all you green fanatics, Ben and I want to clear some things up real quick when it comes to this delightful spring green. Sprue Asparagus is the thin first spears of a crop and sometimes sold as more tender and flavorful and whatnot. We call bull and so does Good Eats host Alton Brown. He wittily named Sprue as the supermodels of Asparagus-watery and insubstantial. It does NOT have the amount of fiber and nutrients that the later thicker stalks will have...a certain "fat bottomed girls" song comes to mind. So, the whole "I'll eat the Sprue because it's tender and high class" is really someone on the farm and supermarket saying, "let's get rid of these by saying they are tender." Now you know. Say No to Sprue!
Same thing goes for white asparagus. It's HUGE over in Europe, my boyfriend lived in Germany for awhile and talked about how white asparagus was super pricey and everyone went nuts over it. Well folks, they went nuts for albino greens. Does that sound sensible to you? DOES IT???! It doesn't to me. It sounds hypocritical. And I don't trust hypocritical food.
If you didn't know before, you obtain white asparagus by covering up the young asparagus so it decreases its exposure to sunlight, thus eliminating the chlorophyll that is almost uniformly present in veggies. Its supporters say that the white stuff tastes less bitter and is more tender. Again with the tender. You know what should be tender? Babies. Kisses. Spinach.
Asparagus is a champion. It is strong, vital, tall, and full of fiber that keeps you vital and regular. Great qualities in a person and a veggie. You know what tender does for you? Makes you a target for bears, lions, man-eating aliens, and poorly written romance comedies. Not great qualities if you want to start and raise a family, folks.
So, what is the difference between green and white asparagus? It only has one thing more than green asparagus-sugars, so more calories. While on the other hand, one of the best things about green asparagus is the presence of "anthocyans, which are responsible for the purplish coloring of the green asparagus, protect the cardiovascular system." We should all follow the advice of Beyonce-"like a ghost, I'll be gone." Go for something solid!
Now-the most important part of asparagus is storage prep and prep before cooking. If you buy asparagus from a farmer's market or supermarket, plan to eat it as soon as possible. The flavor quickly goes downhill so freshness is key. The spears are literally the flowers of the plant, so like Alton Brown says, treat them like flowers. Cut the bottom inch off the stalk, put them in water, and place a loose plastic bag over top. Remove the rubber band before you stick the bundle in the fridge!
Before you buy your bunch of spears though, check that they aren't limp, cracked at the bottom, rotting at the top, or just plain scary. Take your right to buy great produce firmly in hand. Empower yourself at the market.
Just so you know, You Tube has the Good Eats "Age of Asparagus" episode in three parts-I am embedding one but I highly recommend you watch the whole thing-I repeat a lot of the info because it is so good!
Next important piece of information: when you go to cook the asparagus and you cut off part of the stalk do not immediately pitch it. You always have options: stalks are great for veggie stocks and you can toss them in your compost. Second: cook asparagus briefly to keep maximum nutrients and firmness. This means NO BOILING VEGGIES. If you don't have dentures, please, please, please do not boil. The heated water saps out all the goodness from your veggie. But if you want to cook it, you again have options. Alton points out two great ones: microwaving in a damp paper towel, or roasting on aluminum foil at 500 degrees for 5 minutes, each side, with olive oil/butter and some kosher salt. Grate some lemon zest over that and BING! Delish asparagus. Ben is a big proponent of the roasting and I wholeheartedly agree with that, but me and mon cherie want that wrapped in prosciutto.
Final note folks: we grow both regular green and purple asparagus. Ben does say that the purple appears more tender (sigh) because it snaps easier and it isn't an overwhelming flavor-so pairs well with many dishes. Now-purple food is usually great stuff because the color means the presence of nutrients. It has higher levels of the anthocyanins which have higher amounts of antioxidants. "Antioxidants help fight off free radicals that cause damage to your cells, or eliminate these toxins from your body, thus protecting you from chronic illnesses, like cancer. In addition to antioxidants, purple asparagus is also rich in B vitamins that help keep your skin, nails and hair healthy." For the history buffs out there, the Chinese, Greeks, and Romans used it for digestive issues. (Can't get any more "heritage" than something used thousands of years ago.) "Purple asparagus was found to have diuretic and laxative properties that help flush out toxins from the body. The diuretic effects of purple asparagus also help alleviate bloating and cramps during menstruation."
It's kind of a big deal, amIright?
We look forward to seeing you at market-Silver Spring, MD and Carlisle, PA this Saturday morning 9am to 1 pm! If you have any great recipes that you will bet your hat on, share them with us. I compiled a list of rhubarb and blueberry recipes that made my mouth drool for an hour before lunch today. It's on our website under recipes...makes sense.
I wish you well and happy shopping for fresh, local goods!
Happy New Year, everybody!
During the last few weeks of your favorite farmers market, you may have heard about our Winter Buyers Club - a new venture aimed at keeping our awesome and worthy customers satisfied with delicious apples (and other stuff) during the cold winter months when we're not at market. Many of you signed up to get email notification of when these orders will be delivered in your home town (click here, choose option "BC - "Your City/area"). We wanted this info out sooner, but we needed to update our online store with more selections and safe, secure authorize.net credit card authentication! We've also partnered with other farmers so you can pick up multiple things in one stop! Those emails are going out at present, but here's what to expect:
PHILADELPHIA - Jan. 28th, 12:00 - 12:30, at Headhouse Shambles, 2nd & Lombard
Every fourth Saturday between the hours of 12:00 noon and 12:30, we'll be delivering your online orders. Plus, we'll be right beside our regular neighbors at Hillacres Pride, who will be taking your orders for all your favorite meats, cheeses, dairy products, and milk on their website! One stop shopping for a month's worth of farm-fresh, sustainably raised, high quality fruits, veggies, proteins, cheeses, raw milk, and eggs! For a discount on your first buyers club purchase, just complete our short survey and click "submit" at the end.
GREENBELT AND SILVERSPRING - Jan. 15th, 10:00am (Greenbelt - GFM parking lot nearest New Deal Cafe), 11:00am (Silver Spring - location TBD)
Every third Sunday through the offseason, we'll be delivering orders for Greenbelters to the GFM parking lot nearest to New Deal Cafe between 10:00am and 10:30am. We're partnering with Two Oceans True Food, Greenbelt Farmers Markets' sustainable seafood vendor who will bring your seafood orders during the same time. We'll make the quick trip over to Silver Spring afterwards and deliver to the fine folks of that community in the same trip at a location to be determined. For a discount on your first buyers club purchase, just complete our short survey and click "submit" at the end.
Towson And Baltimore
I'm still trying to piece this drop off together. Please complete this quick survey on your Buyer's Club preferences and you'll be hearing from us soon. Thanks!
Some say you'd have to be pretty bold to toot your own horn like this.
Others would say, Farmer Ben is a trumpet player and if you know other trumpet players, you know they can't help themselves. Plus, he's using this blog entry to puff himself up before the crushing realization that all of his Honeycrisp might be worthless after this Hurricane blows through.
"How Do You Like Your Peaches" - Colesville Patch dishes on the best way to enjoy these summer gems
Burst of Flavor at the Fourth Annual Tomato Taste - Silver Spring Patch, after a well-earned tie for second place in last years competition, we narrowly missed the first place crown after, yet again, coming in second place to Mock's 'Sungold' tomatoes. Yet again, we were growing the winning tomato just missed the crown
The year 2010 was one for the books! It had its ups and downs and tested our mettle in a lot of ways, but we're all the better for it. There was plenty doing on the farm, where a new building project, drought conditions, lightning strikes, and stink bugs kept us manically occupied. Market wise, we tried new market endeavors at Silver Spring, H&HS building, Crossroads, Greensgrow Farms, and, briefly, The Piazza at Schmidts (was that all?). In other news, our apples were eaten by the President of the United States of America and we became our local industry's first Food Alliance certified fruit farm. Relive all this and more in our Blog Highlights 2010, farm photos, and press clippings from 2010. We'll also update you on our offseason and have a peek ahead into what to expect in 2011. Enjoy!
The Year in Blog!
The History of the much-malligned Red Delicious <check out a commenter from Spain!>
The Year in Pictures
- Yfrog acct twitter photos - I see concerts in the offseason!
- plixi pics including apple anomolies and the famous US-15 northbound Zebra!
- PASA's slideshow of our Field Day
- H&HS Market open slideshow from H&HS - Ben meets Sect. Sebelius
- Several plugs on All We Can Eat farmers market report in Washington Post - great for DC foodies
- FarmPlate had a nice write-up on Headhouse Farmers Market
- Our Food Alliance press release gets picked up by Food CEO and Philly Food Feed
- Metro Philly on Offseason Activities
- Talkin' Social Media with Greensgrow on Farm to Table
Offseason review: Nov. '10 - April '11
We take offseason education very seriously around here, as this story suggests. This year, I wanted to spend some time quantifying that fact. Below is a listing of all the leadership meetings and educations meetings we attended this offseason between Thanksgiving and the first Silver Spring Market.
- Haygrove High Tunnels Mtg, Dec (Lancaster)
- Future Harvest CASA, Reisterstown (presenter)
- PA Farm Show (54 man hours - Harrisburg)
- 3 Vendors Meetings for Farmers Markets
- FarmCredit Ag Business Class - Webinar, 3 meetings
- State Horticultural Assoc. of PA - 5 meetings combined
- Mid-Atlantic Fruit & Vegetable Convention (Hershey - 3 days, presenter)
- Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (State College, 2 days, presenter)
- Adams County Fruit Growers Association Ann'l Meeting
- County Ag Summit
- half day meeting with our tree fruit extension educators (stink bug preparedness)
- Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Board (2 mtgs)
- Wholesale Marketing Seminar (Syria, VA)
We spend a lot of time fixing equipment as well, in addition to long term business planning (including planting plans) and getting our signs ready for market season - all those details. There's all kinds of training and permits to achieve before markets start as well. We do have time for leisure as well including events like Fair Food Philly's "Brewer's Plate" and the occasional music performance in the area. I like to play a little music too - I crammed over 20 performances into this little offseason window and visited some out of town friends.
Looking Ahead to 2011
A formal announcement of our market schedule for 2011 is forthcoming, but I'm willing to get the details out to those folks brave enough to keep reading this far down! We were doing too much last year, so there are a few changes. Here's the preliminary plan:
- FRESHFarm's Silver Spring Market - back starting April 2nd (at the Panera location) and staying every week 'till Christmas
- Headhouse Farmers Market - back and better than ever! Market starts May 1.
- Kenilworth Farmers Market - back at a new, larger area of the same parking lot! Come "down the hill" from Stebbins to shop with us starting May 3rd!
- Greenbelt Farmers Market - back in our corner stand again in 2011! Opening week is May 8th!
- FRESHFarm's Health & Human Services Market - back with new times! Join us every Wednesday from 11am to 2pm over your lunch break under our new, shady tent! Market starts May 18th!
We made the decision not to return to Crossroads Farmers Market and Greensgrow Farmers Market in 2011. We like those markets a lot and we especially like the people operating them who are top notch and true, geniune local food advocates. It was a hard decision for us to make, but we felt we were over-extended and needing to cut back on our markets for this year. PLEASE, if you were a customer there, please continue to patronize these markets because they are terrific and run by some pretty special people. There are a couple other options we are considering for markets in 2011, but what you see could be what you get for us this year.
And with that, we're only 12 days away from the first Silver Spring market of 2011! It's about that time, folks!
I've never been known as one who has a propensity for stirring the pot or being a malcontent. However, when things I'm passionate about are sullied and bastardized by folks with no real credibility in the realm of the things I care about...
This story really starts two years ago when I was trying to find a good mid-week market for our farm. We'd made a lot of great new friends in Greenbelt at our Sunday market there and many of them expressed an interest in buying our products during the week. With this in mind, I searched for and found a market that both suited our needs (nearby to Greenbelt, middle of the week) and showed an interest in having us as a vendor. While this market had another fruit vendor, the specialty vegetables and the wide range of tree fruit we offer was going to fill a significant void, we were told. It seemed like a great fit and I was told to expect confirmation of our spot once the board met and approved us.
Just a few weeks later, I get an email from the manager of this market apologizing profusely, explaining that the board ruled that we could not enter the market because our farm was in Pennsylvania. At this time, there was already a vendor from Pennsylvania attending this market - a vendor whose farm was three times the distance from market as ours. What's more, a few of the Maryland growers were traveling twice as far to that market as I was. No matter. Local is defined in whatever way best suits those who are defining it and I'd better look somewhere else for a farmers market. Frustrating as this was, this was a private market and they were free to create whatever nonsensical "rules" they'd like, even at the expense of their own market, in this case. This market continues to have vendors from other states - we have not be asked back.
When I was in college, I spoke to several grocery store produce managers who told me local produce is defined as anything that get to the store on a truck in one day or less. Pressing further, these managers couldn't tell me if one day meant one day's travel, one 24 hour period, or 24 "truck hours" (as truckers cannot drive 24 hours straight legally). Their definition had to maintain plausible deniability and be elastic enough to suit their needs. The conversation ended... abruptly.
But fear not, locavores! The Maryland Department of Agriculture is being proactive, issuing new regulations to define local. Admittedly, at the time, I had a feeling that my State Department of Agriculture missed a real opportunity to step up and provide a great model other states could follow. All the same, it was a breath of fresh air that this selective, self-applied definition of local was going to be really challenged, by my estimation, for the first time!
And, as has happened so many times as a young adult in the business of local agriculture, my faith and anticipation was quickly proven to be poorly guided.
Two years removed from the market fiasco and I'm still trying to market our products to folks in Maryland who are clamoring for them. After having missed the event last year, I acted quickly to insure I'd attend the 3rd Annual Maryland Buyer/Grower Meeting after having a positive experience at the Innaugural Event. Today, I was informed that I would not be able to attend the event this year based solely on the fact that my farm is in Pennsylvania. When pressed for an explanation of this policy change, I was told by Mark Powell, Chief of Marketing (email) that the buyers at this meeting were there to buy locally from Maryland farmers and my inclusion might "confuse" them. That is to say, the Ag Department believes that Maryland is more local than Pennsylvania. If my fruit travels 70 miles and an Eastern Shore grower travels 120, then I'm trying to confuse you - tricking you into buying something that isn't local by traveling over state lines.
For me, local should be defined by the consumer. If you're reading this and you want to by your food locally, you get to decide! What's local to you doesn't have to be local for your neighbor. If you've tried products from 50 miles away and the ones from 100 miles away are better, you're free to make that choice. We do not need to start playing the more-local-than-thou game, it's going to make things ugly for everyone. In a perfect world, every person purchasing local farm products gets to assign the value they see fit without a journalist-turned-ag marketer placed between you and I to prevent it from happening. At the end of the day, if you want a local product and you think 70 miles is closer to your home than 120 miles, I think you should be able to make your mind up for yourself whether the government thinks that's confusing or not!
And if you're looking for an organization built on local food facilitation, not obstruction, learn more about Future Harvest CASA.
The internet can be a pretty weird place sometimes. If you ever lacked proof of this, two seperate websites had videos of me (of all people) gabbing about this and that in two weeks time!
Crop Life America wants to get the word out on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) - a passion shared by all of us here at Three Springs Fruit Farm. This seven minute video is shot during bloom season at the farm and gives you a close look at how IPM is performed in our pretty orchards. Sorry, I think my bias came through there a bit at the end.
At the time this video was shot, we were under the impression we'd be at Bethesda on Saturdays. Now we're at Silver Spring Farmers Market instead - the subject of the video posted below. Good background tunes - I need to bribe the Silver Spring buskers down to our end of the market! We've got yummy strawberries...
Local Washington DC News 8 coverage of the FRESHFarm Markets Health & Human Services Market Grand Opening!