Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Farmer's Market' to stay?

My first experience with a "Farmer's Market" was in my hometown of 8,000.  This was back in the late 80's and I remember it being maybe 3 vendors selling from the back of their trucks.  They had the usual, sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini, and maybe some cucumbers.  That was it.  I recently went back to my hometown for the 4th of July and went over to the Farmer's Market which had gone away for awhile I believe, but had recently been re-opened.  Due to a 4th of July festival that goes on every year my Grandma said they had a lot less vendors then usual, but I was impressed as they still had around 14!  I mean for a town of 8,000 that is pretty good.  And it wasn't just the usual garden produce either, they had chard, and all sorts of berries, different looking squash, grass fed beef, free range eggs, and even hand spun wool and yarn from llama's!  A lot different from the late 80's version!  Even in my town of 45,000ish our Farmer's Market has probably tripled or quadrupled in the last 2 years.  I think it has to have been the "perfect storm" of events in this country that has brought back this old tradition.  Food safety, poor economic times, a better understanding of where your food comes from, a desire to support one's community, and lots of people wanting to find an extra way to earn cash.  I also find it interesting how the look of the market has changed.  I think you generally have 3 main groups of people selling at market's.  Middle aged to older farmer's who have been doing it forever (the ones in the overalls and John Deere hat's who are an invaluable source of information and generally love to share it), the hippies (long skirts, rope sandals, baby wearing, odd food growing, kind of people, who generally grow some really weird stuff), and Amish or Mennonite families (probably the biggest competition as they know how to do everything farm related and they are supporting their families while doing it).  Now don't get me wrong there are some other types in there for sure, but these people seem to make up a large demographic of sellers.  Also the individual stand seems to have changed a lot recently.  You have seen pictures of our table, and this is a very typical set least at our market.  People love it too.  Everything in baskets, pretty sign showing your farm name, nice table cloth, etc.  We always have people wanting to take pictures of our table which is very flattering.  I think it draws people in.  A lot different from selling out of the back of your truck (which is also still done and seems to work very well for some people).  Even the veteran farmer's seems to be spiffing up their tables to keep up with everyone else.  The biggest thing that I am hoping for is that this isn't just a trend.  I hope that all of these things have opened up people's minds and made them realize that there is a better way to get food.  You look at a lot of other countries and their market's are the heart beat of their community.  I really hope this is what the future of Farmer's Market's will be in our country as well! 

P.S. As usual I appologize for the spelling and gramatical errors.  This is being written super fast during nap time! :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things are a bit more complicated then I thought....

When we decided to start living a more "aware" lifestyle there were some things I guess I wasn't expecting.  Take something like cutting back on water usage.  Well that seemed a simple one to us.  We installed a rain barrel to collect rain water for the garden.  Why water our garden with drinking water when so many people don't have clean water?  Or the fact we don't have full house a/c (we do have a window air conditioner that we have used once this summer).  Also being able to grow our own food in our back yard and just go out and pick it and bring it in when we need it.  Awesome!  All pretty simple, straight to the point kind of things.  Well I can't help but be annoyed with the problems created by these solutions.  Lets take the rain barrel.  Great idea, but it takes forever to water our garden....I mean a decent trickle is about the best we do with that thing.  Also I hate how much my house suffers in the summer.  The last thing I want to do when my house is 87 degrees and 85% humidity is to get up and clean.  I break a sweat washing veggies in that kind of weather.  I have also noticed that we are having some major bug issues in the house.  Gross!  I think I am doing pretty good with the whole bugs outside thing.  A lot better then I used to.  I actually picked a cabbage worm off my kohlrabi with my bare hands the other day.  A pretty big step for me!  I just can't, and won't, take them in my house!  I suspect the berries to be the culprit.  I sort through them but man those bugs are tricky little suckers!  So although the solution is not as easy as I once thought it to be, I know there are some relatively simple solutions to make my solutions work (wow got that?)  For one we need to install some sort of sink on our porch to wash veggies in.  No more dragging dirty veggies in the house.  Also I found an awesome rain barrel drip system you can build yourself in Hobby Home Farm.  Ok well the a/c not so simple.  I don't want it.  It is bad for the environment, and bad for the budget.  If I went all summer pregnant without it last year I can go the rest of my life unpregnant without it.  So I hope I am not complaining too much!  Actually after writing this down I realize that these are some pretty lame problems!  On a lighter note here is a picture of our awesome squash!

This is the summer squash mix we ordered from Pinetree Seeds, a really great mix!  I haven't seen any yellow yet, but I know we have some eight balls coming.  I also discovered what seems to be, an awesome way to get rid of powdery mildew disease (naturally!).  I just put 1 cup water to maybe 3 tbsp milk in a spray bottle and sprayed the plants when I first noticed the powder.  I also sprinkled corn mean at the base of the plants.  Not sure what did it, or if it was a combination but I am going to assume it was more the milk then the cornmeal.

Also the pickled garlic scapes I made in the spring!  We really have had some great successes this year which I am very grateful for! 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Garden update

Well as usual at this time of year, we are really busy with the gardening and marketing stuff.  It is going really well!  We have been having a lot of successes in the garden as well as some failures, but we have already learned so much more!  We just pulled the last of the first batch of beets and I am hoping that the weeds haven't ruined the next couple planting we did after that.  The swiss chard is still going strong as well as the kale.  We have had some cuc's and zucchini, and we are finally getting a good crop of tomatoes.  Most of the heirlooms we bought are dying or dead.  I suspect this is because we planted them in the same spot where we put our store bought tomatoe plants last year that died from the blight.  We didn't even think to put them in a different spot!  I did plant some of the heirlooms we started in a different spot and they are doing much better. 

These are the traveler tomatoes (Risentomate) we grew.  We bought the seeds from Baker Creek.  It seems to be a very healthy and productive plant.  The tomatoes are very interesting looking!

The fish peppers look awesome this year!  They are really productive plants.


And sunflowers.