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Farmers' Markets 2015


kayb
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If there is already a similar topic, please forgive me, but I didn't see one.

 

As April ends and May arrives, Farmers' Markets, at least here in the MidSouth, are either opening for the year or switching from winter to summer schedules. I went to my local market's first session today. Here was the haul:

 

market haul.jpg

 

Green tomatoes, two kinds of asparagus, radishes, green onions, strawberries, two pounds of pork breakfast sausage, and a bag of kettle corn. I passed up leaf lettuce and cucumbers. The Amish farmers who had the green tomatoes (fried green tomatoes tomorrow, everyone!) raises them in a greenhouse and expects to have ripe ones next weekend or the next. I'm anxious. There were lots of garden plants -- peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, melons. 

 

I'm a little disappointed there are no early peas; I may have to make a trip to the Memphis market, an hour or so drive, to get a broader variety of produce. Gardens are all late around here because we had a late spring. Two months from now -- around the 4th of July -- will be prime garden season, and the market will be overflowing.

 

My local market offers locally raised beef and pork (we're not much of a lamb region, in general), lots of fresh eggs, a ton of baked goods, lots of crafts. There's a new food truck this year, whose menu I didn't peruse, but I don't see how it can top last year's truck that had the sausage, egg and cheese biscuit, which was a thing of beauty. Later on, we'll have lots of sweet corn, lots of green beans and purple-hulled and crowder peas, lots of tomatoes. We'll have blueberries and blackberries and peaches and melons. My grocery store bill will drop to nearly nothing, and we will eat well at my house!

 

What are other places seeing at their markets this time of year? What are the big hits? What harvest can you just not wait for?

 

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www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Here's what I got today at the opening of the Broad Ripple Farmers' Market for the 2015 season.  :-) 

 

Some stuff I got from the penultimate session of the Indy Winter's Farmers' Market 2015.

 

It would be nice to see what others get from their Farmers' Markets.

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Ironic that the best farmers markets are in the cities. Out here in the semi-country there are a few FMs here and there, but I've not seen one where a fiddlehead or a ramp can be found. 

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That's 'cause Ramps and Fiddleheads aren't farmed - they're gathered. I think urban "farmers markets" in high-income areas should get a new name. Perhaps "TrendyMarket" or "Kale & Things". Too bad Whole Paycheck is already taken.

Edited by rlibkind (log)
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Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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That's 'cause Ramps and Fiddleheads aren't farmed - they're gathered. I think urban "farmers markets" in high-income areas should get a new name. Perhaps "TrendyMarket" or "Kale & Things". Too bad Whole Paycheck is already taken.

 

Whether farmed or fetched, they ain't out here closer to where they grow.  Less of a market here of course.  Where I live, the best produce is at the local Gigante market. Cheap, fresh and a nice selection of tropical stuff. And Asian stuff too.

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Regarding ramps:

 

The ramps I showed in the post I linked to in my post above were sold by the bundle at US$5 each.  I would say they were somewhere between 3/4 to a pound per bundle.  I bought more the following week also at $5 a bunch and still have the smaller of the two bunches shown in this post (both of which were somewhat smaller than the previous week's batch) – I just weighed it: 9.2 oz, and it has been drying up a bit too in the fridge.  These were being sold by the folks who gathered it themselves from their farmland property.

:-) 

 

In contrast, at the BRFM this past weekend the vendor from whom I got the morels also had ramps (with roots & the bottoms of the bulbs hacked off roughly) but they were also pretty small and sold in small bunches at $6 which could not have been more than 1/4 to 1/3 pound each.  But he is a reseller, not the originator of the ramps (or the morels).

:-(

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That's 'cause Ramps and Fiddleheads aren't farmed - they're gathered. I think urban "farmers markets" in high-income areas should get a new name. Perhaps "TrendyMarket" or "Kale & Things". Too bad Whole Paycheck is already taken.

 

I find it funny that ramps and fiddleheads are so trendy now.  I have fond memories of my grandmother taking me out foraging for them and watercress too in the 70's.   I was sworn to secrecy though as  more often than not we were  trespassing, and my GM  was worried my Mom would find out she was being a bad influence.  LOL 

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"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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I find it funny that ramps and fiddleheads are so trendy now.  I have fond memories of my grandmother taking me out foraging for them and watercress too in the 70's.   I was sworn to secrecy though as  more often than not we were  trespassing, and my GM  was worried my Mom would find out she was being a bad influence.  LOL 

 

Yeah, I think it's funny too!  :laugh:

Ramps are an ubiquitous pedestrian food here, the woods at my farm were full of them!

I wish I could have got $5 a bunch for them...let alone $16 a pound!!!! That's crazy!  :blink:

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Yeah, I think it's funny too!  :laugh:

Ramps are an ubiquitous pedestrian food here, the woods at my farm were full of them!

I wish I could have got $5 a bunch for them...let alone $16 a pound!!!! That's crazy!  :blink:

 

I believe Ithaca is not far from you, yes?  Is there a Farmers' Market there? Or, would it be an idea to scope out fancy restaurants there? In both cases with an eye to harvesting your ramps and selling them there - possibly for a good price too.  After all, Cornell is there...lots of rich students...lots of professors and intellectual/"sophisticated" types there... See here...or here...

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I believe Ithaca is not far from you, yes?  Is there a Farmers' Market there? Or, would it be an idea to scope out fancy restaurants there? In both cases with an eye to harvesting your ramps and selling them there - possibly for a good price too.  After all, Cornell is there...lots of rich students...lots of professors and intellectual/"sophisticated" types there... See here...or here...

 

 

Thanks.

I'm well aware of those markets.

The farm (which I sold in December 2013) was about 55 miles from Ithaca...in Pennsylvania...too far for my farm business model.

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Here in Beaufort, SC, we have a very nice farmer's market every Saturday morning.  Not just veggies as this list shows:

 

http://www.portroyalfarmersmarket.com/vendor_list.html

 

They usually have live music and you can get local oysters on the half shell during the season and also fresh local shrimp when they're in season.  There's a bunch of good stuff at that market.

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Thanks.

I'm well aware of those markets.

The farm (which I sold in December 2013) was about 55 miles from Ithaca...in Pennsylvania...too far for my farm business model.

 

Oh, OK.  I didn't know (or had forgotten, on reflection) that you had sold your farm.  I did not remember (or know) that your farm was in PA, though - and what I think of is your "location" in the Finger Lakes region in NEW YORK.

 

Just as a matter of interest, I will note that many vendors at the Farmers' Markets in my area come from 50-60 miles (or even more) away from Indy.  It is obviously worth their while to drive in to Indy to sell their stuff, year after year, otherwise they would have quit after a season or two.

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In my urban location (Indianapolis, IN) the clientele at the various Farmers' Markets differ slightly from location to location, with some (like the Broad Ripple Farmers' Market) having more BMW/Lexus types and some like the downtown Indy Winter Farmers' Market having a greater mix.  Pensioners and food stamp recipients are amongst the patrons at all places.  The Carmel Farmers' Market (which I also go to) would definitely be in a High Income area (ditto Noblesville and Zionsville) but is really a suburb of the Metro Indy area yet also has vendors who attend the BRFM and/or the IWFM and charge the same prices at all the markets (they couldn't do otherwise, really).  Even then, the CFM is where I get the cheapest stuff sometimes, particularly at the height of the season depending on what it is and who the vendor is - four medium-sized zucchini for $1, for example; or enormous bunches of some greens for $2-3.  At other times and with other things they *can* get pretty pricey regardless of the market - $1-2 for a small "first onion of the season", for example (I'm not buying that!!)  But I also got a small bagful of Ghost Chillies for a buck or two at the CFM last year too. :-) I carefully avoided touching any of them by my bare fingers/hands. :-D  

 

Yes, one gets certain vendors who ply expensive stuff too - like heritage Red Wattle pork; or salmon (frozen now, of course) plied by the fisherman who caught them in Alaska (he's from an Indiana small town).  Mind you, the farm-raised beef/pork/chicken sold directly by the farmers themselves at these markets ISN'T cheap stuff.  

 

But I'm sure everyone who go to farmers' markets know the stuff above.

 

In contrast, in areas like California I believe many of the "Farmers' Markets" have a huge array of produce at pretty cheap prices - depending on what it is, of course, but in general is reflective of the fact that it is sunny and easy to grow stuff there. Plus all those "ethnic" farmers - the Hmong being a notable example.  (The water crisis might put a crink in that scenario)  

 

There was an interesting discussion along the above line some time ago on another board (I'm sure you can guess which one) and which I was involved in, comparing prices between farmers’ markets in various regions (CA versus Mid-West was indeed strikingly different) and talking about what one bought at farmers’ markets and why versus the local Western grocery store versus “ethnic” grocery stores.  (I mentioned here on eG in an earlier post about even driving the extra distance to a Chinese grocery to get scallions at 3 bunches/$1, for example – even if they are not “organic” or picked the previous night or whatever)  But even within a region (like the Mid-West) prices for items vary – one poster there pointed out that in his area of Indiana tomatoes, for example, were $1-2/lb whereas I was paying $3-4/lb at the BRFM.  Certainly in that case “the vendor charges what the market will bear” seems to apply. (see my comments about the BRFM having more BMW/Lexus types)

 

Perhaps an alternative way to view it is that an urban area provides a natural "focusing point" for varied suppliers/vendors/farmers to gather, where there is indeed a concentration of prospective customers - whether or not they are monied.  Hasn't that always been one of the reasons why urban or metropolitan areas arose and one of the ways they function?  And, of course, the farmers get to cut out the middleman and pocket more money themselves.

 

p.s. I like kale.

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I miss the Hmong farmers at my Farmers' Market here in Jonesboro. We had two families of Hmong farmers in Hot Springs, and I could always count on them for peas, both snow and sugar snap, long beans, daikon, Japanese eggplant, and assorted vegetables the others just didn't grow. On the other hand, I could rarely get asparagus there.

 

Here in Jonesboro -- also a college town, but very much a "country music" town as opposed to an "indie/jazz/blues" kind of town like Hot Springs, we generally get "country" vegetables. Plus asparagus. And I'm glad to have them. But I'd surely love to have green peas and some of the other veggies.

 

Meat prices at the market, I think, are quite reasonable. I pay $1.50 per pound on the hoof for my quarter steer, which works out to between $5.50 and $6 per pound for my finished beef. So I'm paying the same for hamburger as for porterhouse, and everything in between. I'll take that. If I buy it by the package at the market, it goes from $5 for hamburger to upwards of $12 for steak. Pork also starts about $5 for sausage, $4 for ground pork, $7.50 or so for chops. 

 

We have a roadside vendor who sets up all summer, and sells produce that's not local, but that he buys wholesale from farmers in a several-state area. I find that I get better produce that's not in season yet here, which he brings from states south of us, than I can get from the grocery. He has tomatoes from Georgia right now which are acceptable, barely, as well as peas and green beans which are several steps above supermarket quality. I believe I shall stop by and see him today.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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In Indy at the Farmers' Markets (FMs) nowadays there are various vendors who grow and offer various East and South-East Asian vegetables as well as South Asian/Indian sub-continent vegetables.  There used to be a Chinese guy (who had a day job at a pharmaceutical company here) who grew Chinese-type veggies but he no longer offers much of that sort of thing; the ones who do are Caucasian growers, quite a number of them. :-) Plus the Amish farmers. :-D  A couple of ladies (Caucasian) in fact make it a specialty of theirs to grow and offer relatively esoteric E/SE/S Asian stuff, including Japanese, Indian, rarely-seen Chinese/E Asian vegetables and gourds (and I've also given them seeds of certain herbs or vegetables which they grew and offered to the public)  They were and have been the only ones from whom I have ever seen a certain type of red-stemmed smaller-leafed "choy sum"/mustard green ever being sold in my parts.  Another grower regularly offers various sorts of Japanese greens (mizuna is a favorite crop of theirs), although their main business are apples - a great many varieties (These folks go to both the BRFM and IWFM; while another grower (at the BRFM) also grows large number of apple varieties as well as various peaches and other stone fruit).  Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes are offered by a couple of, again, non-Asian vendors.  Lovely daikon are offered by various growers, including the Amish ones; while various sorts of Chinese long beans (green and purple) as well as ginger, various E Asian-type beans, roots, greens, are also offered by non-Asian growers.  Lovely fresh Napa cabbage ("wong nga pak") are grown and offered by various growers, all Caucasian.  All to the good, I say, and is a demonstration that folks in this region are open to growing these sorts of things. Oh, there are a few hydroponic growers as well, on a not-insignificant scale. Various growers offer many varieties of both common and uncommon root and leafy vegetables and tubers and peppers and heirloom tomatoes (MANY growers/vendors) and fruits and so on etc.  I do feel glad that this variety is available to folks like me here, even if one pays a premium at times for stuff like this.**

 

All of the above are, by requirement of the regulations of the FMs, grown in Indiana or derived (e.g. harvested/gathered) within Indiana.  One exception would be the guy/family who sells frozen wild-caught salmon from Alaska which he caught himself – perhaps he got a special dispensation. (I mentioned this guy earlier, that he was from a small Indiana town - I think that is still true, although he is now based (i.e. his "residence", when he is not off in Alaska) in a small town in Illinois and not that far from St Louis, MO.  He would be driving more than 200 miles to Indy to sell his stuff.)

 

I will note, however, that 14-15 years ago the FMs (and grocery stores in general as well) were far less extensive in scope, and good leafy vegetables often tended to be somewhat scarce.  The scene has changed markedly in the last 10 years.

 

Many of the farmers come from quite a distance away, and this has been the pattern in all the FMs here.  All the Amish farmers come from more than a hundred miles away, for example - and they are regulars at the markets, with beautiful produce.  Yes, their stuff is not the cheapest - after all, their gas costs must be on the higher side - but their produce is almost always very good.  Others come in from distances varying from in the immediate Metro Indy area to 30-40-50-60+ miles away.  A meat grower/vendor comes in from about a hundred miles away too and I have seen them at the BRFM for 10 years at least. 

 

No Hmong growers/vendors here, though.  Kayb, I imagine those Hmong growers you mentioned from Hot Springs set up their stalls in Jonesboro, if I am reading your post correctly?  If so that would also mean they were long-distance vendors (Hot Springs AR to Jonesboro AR is 182 miles). 

 

 

** Of course, many other areas (usually metropolitan areas) - such as the Green Markets in NYC (Union Square is an example) also offer vast arrays of all sorts of stuff originating from many parts of the world.  I would merely murmur here that I offer up again my comment about large metropolitan FMs being a focusing point for vendors/growers of many kinds to offer their produce and other products to a large concentration of prospective customers.

Edited by huiray (log)
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I will note, however, that 14-15 years ago the FMs (and grocery stores in general as well) were far less extensive in scope, and good leafy vegetables often tended to be somewhat scarce.  The scene has changed markedly in the last 10 years.

 

Same in this neck-of-the-woods.

Folks have really opened up to new things.

20-25 years ago, most folks wouldn't look at a tomato unless it was a red oblate globe, red beefsteak or red cherry.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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No, Huiray, I lived in Hot Springs before I moved to Jonesboro. Wish the farmers DID commute. We have several who come 50-60 miles, mostly because we're the largest city in about that range to the east, west or north (we're also about an hour from Memphis, southeast of us). I generally make a visit to an Asian market once a month or so when I have occasion to be in Memphis (haven't done that since I started thinking about quail eggs, but I will soon!).

 

The Jonesboro market is actually operated by Arkansas State University, which has a sizeable ag program, but the growers all seem to be unrelated to the university. 

 

Oh, and I stopped by the side-of-the-road vendor today. Yellow squash and zucchini from Louisiana. New potatoes from -- I forget where. Alleged vine-ripened tomatoes from Florida. I demurred at the tomatoes, and let him talk me into a single one, just to see if they're decent. We shall see, in a blt tomorrow.

Edited by kayb (log)
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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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market haul 0509.jpg

 

Ripe tomatoes were the high point of today's market, where, as you can see, I did considerable damage. A big bundle of leaf lettuce; it'll go with green onions and radishes from last week to make a wilted lettuce salad tonight. Two big tomatoes. I probably should have gotten more. Green beans. Strawberries. More asparagus -- lots of it,as we won't have it for all that much longer. Farm eggs, pork sausage, and a pork tenderloin. Cucumbers, to go in rice vinegar, turmeric, mustard, white pepper and sugar for refrigerator pickles. And two bars of homemade soap, one lemon-lavender and one rosemary-mint. 

 

Then I stopped by the roadside produce stand and picked up zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, sweet potatoes and a cantaloupe.

 

The pork tenderloin, the wilted lettuce, a sweet potato cut in wedges and roasted, and a caprese are all on the menu tonight.

 

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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