This Saturday will be the eighth Market of the 2015, meaning we're a third of the way through the regular season. As of this writing, the summer has been pretty hot and very humid and too doggone wet, and as uncomfortable as that may be for us humans, fruit- and vegetable-bearing plants mostly love the rain, especially when it comes late in the day like it typically has been, so they're still getting plenty of sun before the clouds roll in. (This tendency toward late-afternoon thunderstorms has been playing havoc with our plans for a postwork swim though.) When the skies darken at 4:00 pm, we must remind ourselves that it's much better rainy than droughty for our farmers, which is some consolation as we put our bathing suit back in the drawer.
Make Way for Yewts
The Lansdowne Community Youth Garden practically snuck into last week's Market, not letting us know they were ready and raring to go until it was too late to talk them up much in this newsletter. But we'll rectify that now. What you need to know is that the CYG is literally all of the things the name says -- a community garden planted in the field behind the high school and tended by 13 Penn Wood students. Their slogan -- Five Blocks Fresh -- is also the literal truth. The garden has been in existence and represented at the LFM for a few years now, so they're getting good at this and will be offering free recipe cards along with their squash, tomatoes, peppers, chard, herbs, and pesto. Like the CYG Facebook page to keep abreast of what they're up to. (Their location at the Market will likely change from week to week, so you may have to search a bit to find them.)
Thinking and Acting Both Locally and Globally
Sebastian Interlandi has owned Creative Shepherd Farm all the way up in Ava, New York, since 2009, when he was still a science teacher at Penn Wood High School. But now he's a gentleman farmer and businessman who is focusing on value-added farm products (ie, he takes his produce and does something with it and then sells it, which is what small farms need to do nowadays to survive). His getting-better-all-the-time lineup of products includes soft and aged cheeses made using certified organic milk from a neighbor's dairy, preserves and salsas from his own fruits and vegetables, and beer and sodas, because they are fun to make and sell. He also sells eggs laid by his own grass-fed free-ranging hens and by a flock of 400 chickens owned by a local teen.
But Sebastian has interests beyond Ava and Lansdowne. A few times a year he travels to Ecuador to obtain fair-trade coffee, sugar, and artisan items (this last sold mostly at other markets). He has even established a corporation, Paraiso del Pastor, to help family farmers there stay in business by purchasing their organic fruits for about 20% above market value and making marmalades in a commercial kitchen there that are then brought back for sale in the States.
Creative Shepherd offers CSA baskets that include some mighty fine not-available-at-the-market stuff (like beer). While it's too late to join the CSA this year, you can talk with Sebastian about getting on his email list so you can hop on board in 2016. Till then, you'll have to be satisfied with the always interesting stuff he has available on the first and third Saturdays each month.
It's hard to miss all the press that honey gets as a wonder food. In fact, after we wrote that sentence, we Googled "honey wonder food" so as to have something to back it up with and found this article, which more or less says that honey might be why we are no longer small-brained humanoids. Boom. As tempted as we are to drop the mic and walk away while you chew on that (pun intended), there's more to say because at least three LFM vendors sell honey.
Creative Shepherd's selection comes from an aviary in Ithaca, New York, and consists of three kinds of pure honey: spring wildflower, fall wildflower, and buckwheat. (Availability may vary.) Sebastian brings 8-ounce jars to the LFM (for $5), but if you want more, tell him, and he can package up a quart for you for $15 and save you some dough.
Fruitwood Farms has a long, proud history of honey production, stretching back more than a century. Fruitwood brings a variety of types -- from alfalfa to wildflower, plus raw (aka crystallized) honey and clover honey with a chunk of the comb in it -- and several sizes to Market each week (the small jars are $7.50, and a giant 5-lb jar of Jersey Pine Barrens honey will run you $30). Try a few different kinds to decide whether you prefer mild and fruity, like raspberry honey, or dark and robust, like buckwheat.
Fruitwood's and Creative Shepherd's honeys are your basic all-purpose, everyday honeys. We all need an everyday honey. Taste Artisanal Market, on the other hand, brings organic Lancaster County honeys that have been, as our mother would say, "doctored," and most wonderfully so. Think honey infused with lavender, spiced like chai tea, livened with Calabrian chili peppers, flavored with hops (like used in beer) or hibiscus flowers and ginger, infused with rosemary and layered with figs, or brightened with lemon and thyme and sporting toasted walnuts (all are 11 ounces for $12). These, friends, are your special honeys, for pairing with cheeses and fruits, drizzling onto nutty breads, and generally knocking the socks off guests or just tickling your own fancy. Taste's kind and knowledgeable Ari is happy to help you make a choice and give suggestions of what pairings will bring out your selection's best qualities. (Taste Artisanal Market is off this week but will be back August 1.) Remember: If you keep them on different shelves, your everyday honey doesn't even have to know about your special honey.
Correction: It was reported here a few years ago that eating local honey could help curb allergies, but that is no longer believed. But don't let that stop you from adding it to your toast or tea or whatever. Your brain may even get bigger (no guarantees though).
Yes, finally, the Regency Café is back. No more unnecessary street crossings while in an under-caffeinated state.
Next week is the final Saturday in July, which can mean only one thing: Kidcentric Day. (If only there were some way to stop this madness!) We're looking forward to butterflies and crafts and line dancing and marbles and 3D printing and a game or two, plus kids' favorite thing ever: the open mic talent show, starting at 11:30. (Any kids out there going to play the spoons for us? We wanna see that!) We are also hoping for a visit from a borough police car (but not enough to snatch a purse to get one on the scene).
We'll also be collecting donations for the community food bank next Saturday and thanking you with a Market Buck.