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 .

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.

1 comment:

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