Farmers’ Market/CSA Report #9, August 2017

It seems preposterous to me that I am trying to write a blog post about my bucolic life in northern New England after the events of this past weekend. But for those of you who come here for some respite, I will give it my all.

The farmers’ market was in full swing when I arrived, a bit later than usual because I overslept, and had a kitchen full of dirty dishes that were driving me batty. The sun was shining, and the musical duet featured this week was playing a gentle folk tune as I stepped into the ring of tables and canopies.

I quickly took stock of who was offering what this week, and loaded up my market bags.

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You can see some weekly favorites, the chocolate mint patties and granola, and returning stars goat chorizo and free-range chicken (a really big free-range chicken, there’s at least three meals in there). The cheese I selected this week is super sharp cheddar, aged for two years, and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. It found its proper place in our snack spread during Game of Thrones, holding its own nicely with our cut-glass goblets full of strong red wine. We take our Game of Thrones seriously here.

The nectarines are as sweet and juicy as you could ever wish, and the early apples are crisp and tart, and now that I think about it might be great with that cheese. Hmm. Tomatoes are finally moving into the seasonal spotlight. The heirloom varieties are available now, and I love them not only for their full-bodied flavors but also for their vibrant colors. The yellow ones are sweeter and lower in acid than the red ones we are most accustomed to, and they are lovely in salads and salsa. The assortment of heirloom cherry tomatoes inspired their farmer to create a recipe for a quick pasta sauce, which he shared with me (the slip of paper peeking out from between the two seasoning packets I picked up from said farmer).

Speaking of seasoning blends, the Cameroonian spice purveyor is developing some new blends, and she was kind enough to share some samples with me, before they are bottled for sale. They are in the little plastic bags in the center of the photo. One is Cameroonian, one is Indian, and one is a seasoned breading mix. I am going to try to use them all before I see her next Saturday so I am ready with feedback. I feel quite honored that she would allow me to work with these new combinations before they are available for sale. Indeed, one of the best parts of shopping at the farmers’ market each weekend is the opportunity to develop relationships with the farmers and creators there.

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The CSA share is fluctuating a bit, but still plentiful. Instead of kale, there is Swiss chard, and instead of pickling cucumbers there are radishes, which is indicative of the somewhat cool summer we’re having; radishes don’t usually do well during the hot days of August. There is Japanese eggplant once again, and I was able to pick my entire share of green beans on just a few plants. We are still waiting on cherry tomatoes, but have been assured they are nearly ready. The corn is not grown at the CSA farm, and is not part of our share, but brought in for sale from another nearby farm. Corn takes up a lot of space on a farm, space that our CSA farm does not have.

Being at the farm, or the farmers’ market, provides me so much more than food. The farmers’ market is a chance for social connection, a community of people who value food, and feeding people, the way I do. The farm is always an oasis of quiet, persistent effort and dedication, a place I always find peace even though it is on a well-traveled road not far from my own neighborhood. There is a serenity about the place that is rare in these troubled times, a kind of comfort in knowing how the growing season progresses, seeing new rows of seedlings being planted as out-of-season rows are cut down to make room for them. There is a reassurance, gentle yet insistent, that life does indeed go on, and that each one of us has a part to play in it doing so.

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