Come with us on our visit to the farmer’s market! It officially opened last week for the season, but this week was my first opportunity to go.
Those of you familiar with this blog know I’m a bit of a foodie, and it comes from growing up in a family of health-obsessed foodies. My mom and her pal Deidre Hall even wrote a book about their collection of amazing healthy food tricks called Kitchen Closeup, where they revealed the secret of Genius Soup. I still make a batch pretty much every week. The book and its follow-up Deidre Hall’s How Does She Do It? A Beauty Book inspired an incredibly vibrant Facebook forum. If you haven’t been to visit Bowman Hall on Facebook yet, well, you’re missing out. Bowman Hall babes, this post is for you!
There’s the whole “gathering food for dinner” purpose of the farmer’s market, and then there’s the social aspect of the market. It’s still pretty early in the season, so there isn’t as much variety as there might be in another month or so, but the kids can run around and enjoy the music while we catch up. I’m all for opportunities to speak in full grown-up sentences once in a while!
In theory we’re shopping for some fresh greens for dinner, but every trip to the market is also a wonderful opportunity to learn more about food. Speaking as a professional landscape designer, trying to get growing things to do what you want to achieve a certain aesthetic result is difficult. Often as soon as you plan for a plant to be exactly one way, it does exactly the opposite of what you wanted. Kind of like children. But at least we can adapt, prune, tie, or claim that asymmetry was really the intended effect.
On the other hand, farmers are in the business of constantly producing lots of plants that look and taste reliably similar. That’s hard! I have so much respect for all of their pro tips and advice about how to grow food, and which varieties do well in what circumstances.
We also have a few fun things like cupcakes and goat milk caramel made by a local artisan. I tried to steer clear of the cupcake booth today, but they were so pretty. The local fish vendor was there with gorgeous local salmon and scallops. We are so fortunate in the range of food available locally. But it’s a two-way street–these wonderful small businesses exist because there is a market of people here who support them. So if you want more farmer’s markets in your area, you have to go to more farmer’s markets!
We stopped at Fly Girl Farm’s booth to see what on earth the amazingly sculptural giant curly things were. Of course, garlic scapes! My garlic is making these little curly things, too. I’m not used to thinking of these as something to cook–you can’t really buy them in stores, since they’re only available for a short time in the spring. Once the garlic flowers, it’s not a scape anymore.
Airielle inspired us for dinner with some tips on how to cook with garlic scapes:
We also spent some time catching up with Kate Haas, of Echo Valley Farm in Loma Mar. This incredibly picturesque local farm grows a variety of organic produce, including incredible berries and greens throughout the season. Their hens are raised on pasture, so the eggs are dynamite and completely organic, including the feed. Our outdoor preschool co-op LOVES to visit the farm, and recently took turns milking a goat and holding the ducklings there. This year they’ll be launching a CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture) where you get a box of mixed produce every week throughout the growing season. I can’t wait for my first box.
Our local farmer’s market is organized by a group called Puente de la Costa Sur. They’ve worked with the state to come up with a token-matching program, so even low-income residents can use food stamps toward purchases at the farmer’s market. I think that rocks, because everyone should be able to afford good produce. Being on a limited budget shouldn’t mean being stuck with crappy processed food.
Are you inspired by your local farmer’s market?