Tuesday, December 9, 2014


To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late!

Over the eight years I've been helping David, one thing has become crystal clear, each farm season has its successes and its failures. Sometimes the success is small, but you take what you can get. Some years provide you with great bounty with one crop and not so much with others. Sometimes the failures are minimal for which you are thankful, but others have a significant negative impact on what's available to bring to market.
Last season deer ate the first two plantings of beets and Swiss chard. There was record rain in June and near record rain in July. The tractor was out of commission for at least six weeks. Due to the rain and the tractor problems a number of crops did not get planted. Or, when planted, did very poorly. For example, farm season 2012 saw the best winter squash harvest at the farm. Last season the winter squash harvest was virtually non-existent. Other crops, including melons, fared poorly or not at all.

This season David had his best winter squash harvest ever. Also, the watermelon/cantaloupe was the best ever. This was balanced by the eggplants not doing as well as they have in the past for no discernible reason. Also, due to disease, this was not the farms best year for cucumbers. Yet the tomato harvest was great and the first two plantings of summer squash were quite productive.
Sometimes the problems are disease. For example, after a good start, the basil harvest ended quite suddenly due to something called basil downy mildew. (It was first reported in the United States in 2007 and appears to be here to stay. It is located primarily along the eastern seaboard, but there have been outbreaks in Kansas and Missouri. Once it gets on your plants there is little that you can do to stop it. At this time prevention of the disease is a work in progress. I mention all of this so that when you go to your local markets and can’t find basil, you will have an understanding as to why.) The devastation of the basil crop was not specific to Z Food Farm. Various other local farms, and farms throughout the East coast, up into Maine, were ravaged by the disease. These ups and downs are par for the course for farms large and small, but the impact on small-scale operations can be quite significant; yet another reason to appreciate all that goes into the produce available to you at farmers’ markets. And the challenge for organic farms is that they have less available to them to combat bugs and diseases. I know that this point has previously been made, and it is not done to engender sympathy for farmers who operate small, sustainable, organic farms. It is to enhance awareness of all that goes into bringing produce to market. Yes, farmers of all size farms are trying to make a living out of what they do, but for most they have to have a sustaining passion for being a farmer. 

Z Food Farm only sells what it grows. At many markets this is the rule for all produce vendors at a particular market. (If you are uncertain about whether this is the rule at the market you frequent, find the market manager and ask). This means that you will only find produce that is available at that particular time of the season. Some crops do best in the early spring. Some do well in the fall. Some will be available in the spring and fall. Some we’ll have only during the heat of the summer. Having been conditioned to find everything we want year round at grocery stores, please appreciate that small, local farms, organic or conventional, are doing their best to bring you the widest variety of vegetables that are available at that time of the season. If a crop doesn’t do well, or is a complete failure, that failure will have a strong impact on that farm. Prior to my involvement with farming I had no sense of what it takes to bring produce to market. I took for granted the bounty that was available in stores. If you shop at farmers’ markets, whether for produce or some of the other wonderful diversity of goods available, you already have a sense of what the vendors go through to bring their products to market. Most of you who shop at Z Food Farm do convey to us your appreciation of what we offer and for that we thank you. There are numerous choices available to you and we do not take your support for granted.

Winter squash come in all sizes and shapes and colors. There are two things to know about them- they are delicious and they make great decoration until you get around to eating them. Keep out of direct light and direct heat and they will last in your home for weeks if not a few months. Though some will ‘keep’ longer than others, all of them can be saved. As far as cooking them goes, most of them are good for soups, pies, and just plain roasting and eating. Use your favorite search engine and you will find recipes galore.
 This is the harvest of winter squash. A very rough estimate of between 7-8,000 pounds worth of winter squash

 A roadside display.

Galeux d'Eysines - The sweet orange flesh is used in France for soups and also can be baked. Sweet, orange flesh.

Hule and Ernie 'guarding' the winter squash. The beige, somewhat flattened looking pumpkins on the second row up are Long Island Cheese Pumpkins. Have a moderately sweet flesh that is good for pies. Are used by the Bent Spoon in Princeton, NJ to make their pumpkin ice cream.

 Musque de Provence - Also known as the fairy tale squash. Moderately sweet flesh. The skin will start green and over time turn a golden brown. Gorgeous for decoration and then good for eating either roasted or as soup or pie.

 Kabocha - It has an exceptional naturally sweet flavor, even sweeter than butternut squash. Like other squash-family members, it is commonly mixed in side dishes and soups or anywhere pumpkin, potato, or other squash would be. Though the skin color is different the flesh is the same.

Spaghetti Squash- This year David grew this smaller variety of spaghetti squash. Being small they become a little more manageable to cook and use with less waste. For those new to these, after they are cooked and cut in half, if cooked whole, use a fork to scrape out the flesh. You will have strands very similar to spaghetti and you can use the strands just as you would spaghetti.

Acorn Squash- Sweet orange flesh. Good for roasting and eating. Good for making into soup. Just plain good.

Sugar Dumpling- Very sweet flesh. Roast it. Soup it. Enjoy it.

Baby Blue Hubbard- Good for soups, pies, and just simply eating. We grew the baby blue Hubbard. the regular Hubbard can weigh 15-40 pounds.

Kuri Squash- golden flesh is smooth, dry, sweet and rich.

Delicata- delicate, sweet flavor. Good for roasting and eating. Thin skinned.

This is what the greenhouse looked like at the end of the season.

Support local farms. Support organic farms. Eat Healthy.
Farm On!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

To Every Season

The end as the beginning. It has been a long time coming, but here is a resumption of the happenings at Z Food Farm for the 2014 season. View the prolonged gap since the last post as a combination of laziness, exhaustion, and a lack of time on my part. But, as of today, with things winding down (note that this said winding down, not finished), there is time and a renewed energy to return to this blog.

Winding Down- Over the past five years David would skip the Rittenhouse Square Market in Philly the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend and then return for one last market the following weekend. This year he did the Thanksgiving weekend market and, weather permitting, will do the market on Sat, Dec 6. As of now the plan is to continue doing the Rittenhouse Market on a week to week basis. As of now Z Food Farm will be at Rittenhouse Sat, Dec 13. Though going to market will be ongoing, most things on the farm are winding down. There will be harvesting for market, but for the most part, general clean up and barn organization will begin. And then comes the inventorying of left over seed, going through seed catalogues and deciding what items to not do next year and what new things to try. And then comes ordering the seed and planning where in the field to plant things and then, weather permitting, start seeding about the middle of February. Basically, the winter break is not a very big break and while working the soil does come to an end, there is really no end. The current season may end, but the transition to the next season begins almost immediately. When you farm on a small scale your small, local, sustainable farmer doesn’t have that much of a break. It gets back to a point that’s been made before- farmers such as David do it for the love they have for what they do. Wherever you are, if you shop at your local farmers’ market, take the time to get to know the farmer who is selling you their produce. Most farmers will be happy to talk with you about what they do. They will share their passion and aid you in appreciating the uniqueness of what you get at market as opposed to a grocery store. What you are buying is the end result of hours of effort and a different level of passion and commitment than large-scale commercial farming. And, while there are exceptions, what you are buying is going to be fresher than what you’ll get at a grocery store. Also, if it is certified organic you will know that what you are buying has no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

Specific to Z Food Farm there are two things to mention in this post. The first is the totally redesigned web site (www.zfoodfarm.com) and the other is the painting of both sides of the truck. This season Z Food Farm did a market at the Andaz Plaza in New York City. The Andaz is a hotel that is part of the Hyatt chain and is located on Water St., one block down from Wall St. Megan is the director of community relations for the Andaz and became a big booster and supporter of the farm. While David provided some ideas and suggestions as to what he wanted the web site to convey, Megan is responsible for the redesign. The original web site was well done, but it was five years old and in need of revitalization. Over the course of the market season Megan invested her time and energy to bring about the overhaul of the site. It contains more pictures, videos, and all sorts of information about David and the farm. You are all invited to visit and check it out. One specific highlight of the website is that all the information about becoming a CSA (community supported agriculture) Member for farm season 2015 is available. The two types of membership, Farm Share and Market Share, are explained in detail. Pricing information for both types of shares is also spelled out. Memberships are available at three locations- at the farm in Lawrenceville on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at the Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market in Philly on Saturdays, and at the Andaz Plaza Market in NYC on Thursdays. To get to the information about the CSA go to the website and click on the CSA link at the top of the page.

Z Food Farm now has the coolest farm truck. Through Megan David was introduced to the graffiti artist Dmote. He came to the Andaz Market to meet with David and to formulate plans to paint both sides of the truck. (If you google Dmote you will find links to his work and other links giving his background.) And thus it came to be that the truck got painted. If you click on the Dispatches link on the web site you will come to the page that has various videos and pictures about the farm. One of the videos shows one side of the truck being painted. It’s a little over a minute in length. In addition to her work in redesigning the web site, Megan put the videos together. The videos provide a unique perspective into some of the happenings pertaining to Z Food Farm.

Here are some pictures of the truck. The eggplant guy does not have a name. The pumpkin skeleton is Steve The Reaper.

Let me conclude this resumption of the blog with thanking various people without whom this farm season would not have been as successful as it was. 

Thanks to CSA Members. Your commitment to the farm at prior to the beginning of the farm season is crucial for the farms success. Thanks for your investment and faith.

Thanks to all the people who buy from Z Food Farm at the farm in Lawrenceville NJ, in Philly, and in New York City. There is a great deal of choice when it comes to obtaining fresh, local produce and your support is greatly appreciated.
Thanks to Mike and Karel for your assistance in helping to keep various things running smoothly and for general support and camaraderie. In a similar vein, thanks to Tommy. 

Thanks to Dmote (aka. Skank) for his time and artistic vision in painting the truck. 

Thanks to Megan for her time, energy, and creativity. Also thanks for your efforts in promoting the market. Also, thanks to the Andaz Hotel for their support in providing the space for a market in their plaza.

Support local and sustainable agriculture. Support organic farmers. Eat Healthy.

 See you next week at Rittenhouse Square in Philly; 12/13 from 10-2! Farm On!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Getting Closer

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

As might be guessed, a lot has been going on this past month. For the most part things have been going well. The first round of seeding has been completed and as of the past week, the second round of seeding has commenced. Winter squash, summer squash, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers (hot and sweet), and basil have all been seeded with great germination and are on the cusp of being planted. The second wave of eggplant/peppers/tomatoes and other varieties have also been seeded, have germinated and are starting to grow. For a brief time the green house emptied out as numerous plants were moved to the outside tables in preparation for being planted. And flowing from this, planting has been going on. Yesterdays rain (5/16) will slow fieldwork up for a couple of days, but everything is on pace for the start of market season. And though fieldwork was slowed, the rain was beneficial. Even though the farm has a well and David is able to irrigate the fields, there is a difference in the appearance of the plants when contrasting how they are when it rains and how they are when irrigated. It is hard to describe other than to say that when the plants are rained on they seem ‘perky’. They seem to stand more upright. They seem, in a very subjective sense, to be more alive. It’s one of those things that you need to see to fully appreciate.

The exact starting date for markets has yet to be determined, but as of now the target is the first week of June. We continue to take things one day at a time as we move forward. Further!

One other thing to note. Last year at this time deer were wreaking havoc. The first two plantings of Swiss chard and beets were decimated. Actually there was only supposed to be one planting of each, but once they were eaten a second planting was done and this one was also promptly eaten. They finally left a third planting alone.(Point of information- When seeding David will seed more than he intends to plant. One reason for doing this is to take into account that there might be some germination problems. Extra seeding can make up for this. The other reason is that by having extra plants you can replant if some of the plants don't survive being planted. In this case having extra plants allowed David to keep planting. However, despite this, we did not have beets or Swiss chard at the first markets, as should have been the case.) To date the deer have not been problematic. This was the case during the first three years of the farm with last spring being the exception. Fingers are crossed that this continues.

Looking forward to seeing new and returning CSA members the first week of June! Looking forward to seeing friends at the farm and in Philly. It is bounty time; Farm On!!

A sea of tomato plants. They await planting on the tables outside the greenhouse. 

 A bed of garlic! Last year's garlic was afflicted with white blight. This caused the garlic to not develop to its full size. It still tasted amazingly delicious, but the bulbs and cloves did not grow to the appropriate size.

 Baby lettuce. Gorgeous as well as delicious.

 Purple basil.

The first wave of plants being readied for planting.

The salad will be ready soon.

This is an earlier picture of the garlic. 

This is just some of what is waiting to be planted. 

Support your local farmer. Support sustainable agriculture. Support small organic farmers. Eat healthy.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pure And Easy

"We all know success
When we all find our own dreams
and our love is enough
To knock down any walls
And the future's been seen
As men try to realize
The simple secret of the note in us all"

Since last writing the first round of seeding has been completed- tomatoes (50+ varieties), sweet peppers (10+), hot peppers (10+), eggplant (6+), parsley, leeks, and parsley. The greenhouse is basically full. There is room for one more table, but that's it. Whew! The next step is to start moving the 'babies' outside where they can become acclimated to the outside weather as a prelude to being planted. Once this is done, in the next day or so, the next round of seeding will commence. And the cycle of seeding, germinating, developing, moving outdoors, and planting will continue throughout the season. As will harvesting, weeding, selling. While small farmers are living their love and their dream, they do need to make a living and selling the produce at markets, and through CSA memberships, is part of the process.

Finishing the first round of seeding does not mean that we've been resting. There have been any number of time-consuming odds and ends to stay busy. Cleaning the fields of old row cover and plastic mulch being one such task. Another 'issue' was the tractor again needing another repair; sigh, yes. This year's problem was a fluid leak which was not as severe or significant as having the clutch repaired last year. This year's repair was done locally and David went to the repair shop and was able to observe and get some hands on experience is fixing the tractor. While David is not set up to do most repairs on his own, this experience will be beneficial to his ability to take care of some maintenance of the tractor. Things happen for a reason, even if that reason is hidden. The 'good' aspect of this is that the ground has been too wet to do any field work while the the tractor was being repaired. Now that the tractor is back, and the ground has sufficiently dried out (for now), David will be spending the next couple of days spending most of his time preparing the fields for planting.

One big task has been repairing the deer fence. Storm damage and deer damage took a toll on the fence. Fixing the wires, and stabilizing the posts, is not difficult. It is, however, very time consuming. But persistently, and patiently, most of the fence has been repaired and within the next couple of days the repairs should be completed. So it goes. Farming is about going with the flow. As has been mentioned at other times, there are more things over which a farmer has no control than they do.

The simple secret is to do what you love and love what you do.

The first picture shows the first sprouting of garlic. Garlic is planted in the late fall and starts to pop up in late March. It will continue its growth and development until it's harvesting some time in June. The second picture shows some Red Russian kale. Kale is very hardy and the plant itself will survive the winter. It's leaves won't get as large as newly planted kale during the summer, this baby kale will be tender and delicious.

The following three pictures show some of the damage done to the deer fence. In the time since these pictures were taken the post in the first picture has been stabilized and the limbs/branches in the next two pictures have been cut up and removed. Fixing the wires come next.

These two pictures conveys the degree to which the green house has been filled. Keep these images in mind so that you can compare and contrast the growth and development of the plants in the next post.

Dogs at play. Hule just loves the water. And Ernie just loves to be with Hule. They really are best buddies.

"There once was a note
Pure and easy
Playing so free, like a breath rippling by"

Farm on!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

New Year, Same Process

"If I had ever been here before
I would probably know just what to do
Don't you?
If I had ever been here before on another time around the wheel
I would probably know just how to deal
With all of you
And I feel
Like I've been here before
Seeded yesterday. Seeded Today. Seed some more tomorrow. Even if a day is missed here and there, seeding is an ongoing activity throughout the season. Some items, like onions, winter squash, and watermelons, get seeded once and that's it. Some items, like kale, Swiss chard, and lettuce will be seeded in regular cycles throughout the year. Some, like cucumbers and summer squash, will have three rounds of seeding and planting.

Here is what has been seeded since the previous post.

March 18- More beets (5 varieties), kohlrabi, kale, celeriac (celery root), and celery.

 March 19- Ficoide Glacial ("It has fleshy, lightly acidic leaves that are covered with shimmering silvery dots. The leaves are crunchy and refreshing in salads, and may also be cooked like spinach".), shallots, celtuce, escarole, lettuce (8 varieties), and parsley.

A word about the ficoide glacial. Last season it was seeded. It had a great rate of germination. It got planted. It did well in the field. It never made it to market. Why? Simple answer- the deer loved it and ate all of it every time it was planted. Well, if at first you don't succeed, try again. So here we go again. The intent is to do a better job of protecting it from the deer. Not sure what the plan is since steps were taken to protect it the first time it was eaten. Everything that was done to protect the ficoide last year was to no avail. This was also true for the first plantings of beets and Swiss chard. In past years we've had problems with deer late in the season. In farm season they were a pain from the get go. Maybe turns will be taken to sleep in the field with the dogs.

March 22- Three more varieties of onions, artichoke, more fennel, and spinach. There were 36 flats of one of the onions and fourteen each of the other two. Each cell had five seeds. Do the math, that's a lot of seed.

As the pictures below will illustrate, the estimate of it taking about three weeks to fill up the green house was inaccurate.

This has been pictured in a much earlier post. It is the schedule of seeding and allows David to keep track of what is seeded, when it is seeded, and so on.

Most seeds are covered with the regular soil mix. Some things are covered with vermiculite. In general vermiculite is a part of the soil mix and aids in the drainage within the soil- it prevents the soil mix from getting too dense and allows for the seed to be able to germinate without rotting. These are flats of lettuce that are covered with vermiculite. While most seeds will do just fine in the darkness of the soil mix, some seeds, lettuce, prefer being covered with a substance that will allow more light to get through.

This is the beginning of the third row of tables.

Two days later the third row is almost full.

This picture gives a sense of how full the green house is as of 3/22. Space is being saved on the left- 21/2 tables will be for tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet) and eggplant. The glare at the back of the green house is due to the light reflecting off of the newly installed insulation. Why it's taken until this year to insulate is a good question for which there is not a good answer.

Never one to be left out of the action, Ernie is giving David some love and some instructions about how to seed.

Spring is coming!? As of today a 60% chance of snow for Tuesday. And so it goes.
Support your local farmer. Support sustainable agriculture. Support organic farming.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

And So It Goes

The early part of the season is marked by seeding, seeding, seeding and more seeding. Seeding is repetitive. It can seem boring (actually at times it is boring). Whoever, there is a certain meditative aspect to seeding. You concentrate on the specific task at hand, you pay attention to what you are doing and only what you are doing. This is a concept called mindfulness and it is applicable in many ways. An athlete might call it being in the zone. In seeding, if you think about all the seeds and all the flats it can be overwhelming. If you concentrate on one seed, one flat at a time you move Further along.

The soil mix. Each farmer has their own recipe and if you are interested you can find proportions and ingredients on-line. If you farm organically you need to make sure that your mix has the right balance of ingredients to provide the seed the nutrients it needs to not only germinate but also to thrive. David uses a mix of peat moss, compost, blood meal, bone meal, greensand, limestone, purlite, and vermiculite. After three days of seeding we are on the fifth batch of mix.

Hule and Ernie continue to be best buddies. Ernie, at one year, continues to be energetic with Hule, who is now 10. He continuously badgers Hule until she relents and plays with him. They provide us with a great deal of enjoyment. Ernie is the best thing that could have happened to Hule this past year.

If you go back to the previous post you can compare the pictures to see how much more seeding has been done. More onions were seeded on 3/15. Today, 3/16, Swiss chard, broccoli, cabbage, fennel, and beets were seeded. Tomorrow seeding will continue. The caveat to this is that the forecast calls for snow. 

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, here's a toast to a warming trend in the weather.
Think Spring!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Here Comes Yet Another Farm Season

Here comes a new dawn, here comes a new day
Tune up start to play, just like any other day.
Can't stop, can't be late, mustn't make the people wait.
Can't even comb my hair or even change my underwear

 Last year cleaning of seeding flats took place on March 5 and seeding started on March 12. This year the weather outside has been frightful and there was a burst pipe on the well tank. The well was fixed and some flats were washed on March 11. Seeding was going to start on March 12, but the forecast for March 13 was below freezing and it was not worth the propane to heat the greenhouse. Instead seeding started on March 14 with some scallions and onions. Seeding scallions and onions is very time consuming. With scallions 8 seeds go into each cell; 5 seeds per cell for the onions. Most other varieties of vegetables are usually 1 seed per cell, with some being 2 or 3. Thus, if you do nine flats of a variety of scallion it takes a great deal of time.

In the preceding months planning for the coming year has been taking place. What new varieties of plants to grow. What seed companies to buy the seeds. Planning the layout and organization of the fields in terms of crop rotation and which part of the field to have lie fallow. With these tasks complete, the seeding has started. Now, if the weather would just warm up and give the soil a chance to dry out the various farmers in this area, and elsewhere, will be very happy.

These are the flats of scallions and onions that were seeded on March 14.

This gives perspective on the size of the green house. Within three weeks it should be full.

The start of seeding means that the start of plowing, planting, weeding, harvesting, marketing, and complaining about the weather (oh, that's already started) is right around the corner. This is an exciting time of the season. Looking forward to seeing you at the farm and at markets.

Healthy eating to one and all. Support your local farmers. Support sustainable agriculture. Support organic farming.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

To Market To Market

For farm season 2013 Z Food Farm sold its produce at the Rittenhouse Square Farmers' Market in Philadelphia, at a weekday market in Summit NJ, at the farm on Wed. and Fri., and at four special New Amsterdam Markets in NYC (more about these markets later). In addition to the markets
Z Food Farm expanded the size of its CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A CSA is where people buy a share in a farm at the beginning of the season. Then, over the course of the season, receive a weekly bounty of produce. The value of the bounty well exceeds the amount of money that the person pays up front. For the customers this is clearly a value. For the farmer it provides cash up front to cover their expenses at the beginning of the year before income starts to come in through the market sales. In addition to the traditional model of CSA, where the farmer provides specific items on any given week, Z Food Farm has a market share model. In this model members buy 'store credit' and receive added value to their share. For example, if a customer buys a $250 market share they receive $280 worth of credit. The benefit of the farm share model is that people receive a greater value for their investment. The benefit of the market share model is that people can pick and choose what they get on any particular visit to the farm. Farm share members will need to come, or send someone if they can't make it, to receive their share. Market share members can come once a week, twice a week, or whenever they choose. Some of the produce sold at market is harvested the day of the market. Clearly harvesting can't be done on Saturday for the Rittenhouse Market, but the produce is harvested Thursday afternoon and Friday. Thus everything that is provided is as fresh as possible. With this as background, here are a few pictures of this years markets.

Jerusalem Artichoke, also known as sunchoke (due to the plants stems and flower looking similar to a sunflower), is a tuber that stores inulin rather than starch. This makes it a useful alternative for people with diabetes. It is very versatile as it can be used in as many ways as you would use a potato- thinly slice and fry, make into a soup, boil, roast in the oven. This was the first year that David grew it and it proved to be a popular item. People who were familiar with them were very happy to see them. People who were new to them and tried them were more often than not happy to have tried them and bought more at future markets.

A sad sight- as mentioned in a previous post the tractor had a broken clutch and was out of service for close to five weeks. Though it rained most of the time the tractor was gone, its absence, combined with the rain, led to a domino effect of problems. Sigh

During farm season 2011 and 2012 Z Food Farm participated at the New Amsterdam Market in NYC. The market was located in front of the old Fulton Fish Market building on the lower East Side. Sadly, and for multiple reasons, the market this year was essentially discontinued. There was a special June market and then one market a month for September, October, November, and December. Z Food Farm participated in all markets except for the December market. At this time the future of the market is unknown. For information about the history of the market, the vision for the future of the market and surrounding area, and some of the current obstacles to the future of the market go to http://www.newamsterdammarket.org/ .

Summit NJ has had a Sunday farmers' market for quite some time. It is a very successful market as the community of Summit has shown great support for all vendors and for farmers bringing their fresh produce. This year the market managers decided to start a Thursday afternoon market to supplement and compliment the Sunday market. The underlying belief was that people would be have an opportunity to procure either produce or some other items that they might otherwise not be able to obtain until Sunday. The theory of the market was good, but the market was not successful. Though it was located near the train station, the market did not generate the foot traffic necessary for the market to be successful. The people who came were happy that the market was there as they were able to get what they had run out of following their shopping at the Sunday market; exactly what the market was hoping for. Unfortunately, not enough people attended the market. At the time of this writing the future of this market is in doubt.

 Some of the produce available at market. The shishito peppers are generally found in restaurants where they are served as a tapas. The shishito is a Japanese pepper that is intended to be sauteed whole in olive oil to the point of starting to blister and turn brown. For those who are inclined, garlic can be added just as blistering commences and cooked just to the point where the garlic is done. You can then sprinkle on a little sea salt and then eat. The flavor will have gone from a basic green sweet pepper flavor to something totally different and difficult to explain and describe. However, without exaggeration, the flavor of them when cooked is amazing.

Another picture from one of the New Amsterdam markets.

Another new item for Z Food Farm for 2013 was purple sweet potatoes. David grew them an experiment and they were a huge hit. They are a deep purple inside and when cooked seem to get even darker. When cooked they have a creamy, almost fudge like texture, and are extremely flavorful.

Another new item was Chinese celery.  Both the stalks and leaves are used, and they are best used in a stir-fry, soup, or a saute. The taste is stronger than regular celery and if used in a salad starting with a small amount would be best. 

One more scene from the New Amsterdam Market. This picture was from the October market and shows quite a bit of diversity.

 As of today, March 8 the start of the season is close at hand. Hopefully the snow storms are at an end and that warmer weather will help melt the remaining snow and start to dry out the soil to help make it safe to plow. Seeding will start as soon as soon as the well tank is repaired. Yes, the season is starting off with something in need of repair. Sigh.

The other hope is that this year will be drier than last. Considering that there was record rainfall for June and near record rain for July, it is bound to be somewhat drier. Here's hoping that it will be dry enough to let all of the local farmers get their seasons off to a rousing and successful start.

Fun cooking to all.