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Ripe Now! Asparagus

Signs of warmer weather are popping up all over the markets! We are lucky enough to live in a region where we can find locally grown asparagus.

Growing asparagus is a long and arduous process. Asparagus spears need to be hand-harvested one by one, and it takes two or more years for the first asparagus to appear after its seeds are sown. However, unlike most vegetables, asparagus is a perennial plant, which means the same plant will grow year after year, sometimes up to 20 years!

Asparagus has a delicate and clean flavor, mild and sweet when fresh. Even though most of the asparagus we see is green, it also comes in hues of white and purple. In fact, 55% of asparagus around the world is white. A deficiency of sunlight produces the white color, by preventing the development of chlorophyll that is needed to turn the vegetable green. This is usually done by mounding up mulch or sand around the emerging spears.

The season is short so be sure to stop by  Kaki Farm, Full Belly Farm, or Riverdog Farm to pick up some asparagus this week!

Easy Eating
Care for a hearty, vegetarian, gluten-free, 5-star rated breakfast? Well, then try this skillet-baked eggs and asparagus recipe. For lunch, you can enjoy this spring lettuce salad with roasted asparagus. There are many ways to roast asparagus, but you should definitely try this zesty lemon-roasted asparagus recipeFinally, for an asparagus-inspired dinner, try this asparagus risotto recipe from Fully Belly Farms!

Storage Tips
Place them upright loosely in a glass or bowl with water at room temperature. They will keep for a week outside the fridge. Find out more about storing fruits and vegetables here
Recipe:
Cream of Asparagus Soup

From Chef Trudy Schafer of The Healing Hearth


Ingredients

2 lbs asparagus
3 tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil
1 bunch scallions, chopped
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup creme fraiche or plain goat yogurt
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Salt and pepper

Directions 

Cut tips from 12 asparagus spears and blanch for garnish; set aside. Remove fibrous ends of asparagus, then cut asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

Heat a 4-quart pot. Melt butter; add chopped scallions and cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add asparagus pieces; cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 5 cups broth and cover. Let simmer until asparagus is very tender, 15-20 minutes.

Puree soup in a blender, in small batches, until smooth. Transfer pureed soup back into the pot. Stir in creme fraiche and add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and asparagus tips.

 

Our partner Seasonal Bay Area tracks down each vendor every week to get an up-to-date list of what will be for sale at our Tuesday South Berkeley and Saturday Downtown Berkeley markets.
  
This Week's Vendors

Tuesday South Berkeley
Thursday North Berkeley
Saturday Downtown Berkeley
Kaki Farms
Massa Organics
Oya Organics
Brokaw Ranch
Avalos Farm
Full Belly Farm
Flying Disc Ranch
Good Faith Farm
Blossom Bluff Orchards
Solano Mushroom
Dirty Girl Produce
Kashiwase Farm
Stepladder Creamery
Riverdog Farm
Blossom Bluff
Smit Farms
Frog Hollow Farm
Little Fish Co.
Queen of Sheeba Honey
Phoenix Pastificio 
Three Stone Hearth
Soul Flower Farm
Base Camp Bakery
Bolani
Fruit Tree Smoothies
Tamales La Oaxaquena 
Andy's Thai
Donna's Tamales


Little Fish Co.
Happy Boy Farms
Green Thumb Organics
Massa Organics
Golden Rule Organics
E&H Mushroom Farm
Riverdog Farm
Frog Hollow Farm
Phoenix Pastificio 
Big Little Bowl
Donna's Tamales
All Things Sharp
Morell's Bread
Upland Apiary
Blossom Bluff


Brokaw Ranch
Avalos Farm
Kaki Farm
Good Faith Farm
Guru Ram Das Orchards
Golden Rule Organics
Lifefood Gardens
Flying Disc Ranch
Gattonelli
Achadinha Cheese Co.
Little Fish Co.
Kashiwase Farm 
Stepladder Creamery
Happy Boy Farms
True Grass Farm
Solano Mushroom
Riverdog Farm
Smit Farms
Four Sisters Farm
Frog Hollow Farm
Bariani Olive Oil
Soul Flower Farm
Pomo Tierra Orchard
Higher Land Coffee
Tony's Kettle Corn + Crepes
Andy's Thai
Tamales La Oaxaqueña
Cafe Zambala
All Things Sharp
Beber Almond Milk
Big Little Bowl
Your Way to Life Granola
Laguna Garden Bakery
Cultured Pickle Shop
Morell's Bread
Obour Hummus
Phoenix Pastificio
Bolani
Coracao
Primavera Tamales
Bun Bao
Bariani Olive Oil


Sourced from the Berkeley Farmers' Market, Powered by Local Youth

online by 9am Thursday for curbside pick up on Saturday at the Downtown Berkeley Farmers' Market.
Sustainable Gardening for Renters


Are you a renter who wants to grow a garden? No yard? No extra money? No problem!  Most renters, especially if they're not planning a stay, prefer not to spend too much time or money fixing up someone else's property.
 
But the benefits of home gardening, including lowering your grocery bills, making healthier eating easier and combatting climate change and the mind benefits of planting should not be an obstacle to renters. In this hands-on workshop, Lori "Compost Gal" Caldwell, a long-time renter herself, will help you navigate small spaces and the ways to grow food as a renter. She will demonstrate creative solutions and cover topics such as:
  • Container gardening indoors and outside
  • Vertical Gardening (hanging pots and peats, pallets & trellises
  • From concrete to food: creating temporary raised beds
  • Plant selection, crop rotation and maintaining fertility
  • Working with your landlord and landlord incentives for lawn conversion
  • Free/low cost resources
  • Reuse options
  • Taking your garden with you

Lori Caldwell, a frequent Ecology Center Classroom instructor, is owner/operator of CompostGal: Consulting, Landscaping & Education. She is an avid gardener and her mission is "to connect people to the soil and all that it provides". A Master Composter and Bay-Friendly Qualified landscape professional, she has been teaching sustainable gardening classes all over the Bay Area since 2007.

Become an Ecology Center member and you will receive a discount on registration and enjoy continued membership benefits including store and event discounts!

Register here!
Looking for a way to give back to your community in this challenging time?
Become a volunteer at the Berkeley Farmers' Markets! As an essential service, the Berkeley Farmers' Markets continue to provide fresh, healthy food for the community and a livelihood for small and mid-scale farmers. We have implemented extensive operational changes to protect customers, farmers, and staff, and to mitigate the spread of disease, and so volunteers are needed more than ever to help support staff in implementing these.
If you are healthy, not in the high risk category, and not living with high risk people, please consider volunteering at our three weekly farmers' markets.

Volunteer tasks include:
  • Supporting the development and execution of a curbside pickup or box-style produce pick-up program (in development)
  • Greeting customers at market entrance and providing them with info on the social distancing requirement
  • If needed, supporting staff in queueing customers at the market entrance, if the number of customers already in the market exceeds our maximum crowd count.
  • Hanging signage in the market
  • Monitoring vendor lines, helping customers know where to wait, and thanking customers for adhering to the social distancing guidelines
A short, virtual volunteer training will be scheduled prior to working at the market. Shifts start 30 minutes prior to market opening time, and length can be flexible depending on availability. Our three markets operate year-round, rain or shine:
  • Downtown Berkeley | Center Street @ M. L. King, Jr. Way, Saturdays 10 am - 3 pm
  • North Berkeley | Shattuck Avenue @ Vine Street, Thursdays 3 pm - 7 pm
  • South Berkeley | Adeline Street and 63rd Street, Tuesdays 2 pm - 6:30 pm
In addition to supporting the community in accessing healthy, farm-fresh food, the benefits of volunteering 5+ hours include an Ecology Center Membership. Contact mariana@ecologycenter.org to sign up!
Staying Safe

Wearing a face mask and social distancing are required to shop at the Berkeley Farmers' Markets per City of Berkeley COVID-19 safety guidelines. We enforce a limit on the maximum amount of customers in market at one time in order to ensure space for social distancing. This means we may have a line to get into our market at the entrances. If you are feeling sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home. 



Farmers' Market Hours & Locations
EBT and WIC Fruit & Vegetable checks gladly accepted and Market Match incentives distributed at all markets.
South Berkeley
Tuesdays, 2 - 6:30 pm
Adeline St. at 63rd St., 
Berkeley
North Berkeley
Thursdays, 3 - 7 pm 
Shattuck Ave. at Rose St., Berkeley
Downtown Berkeley
Saturdays, 10 am - 3 pm
Center St. at MLK Jr. Way, Berkeley
[Photo credit: Berkeley Farmers' Market Staff]