Monday, August 19, 2013

A Weekend at Farmers Markets

On Saturday morning, I had the pleasure of rising early and setting out to visit six different farmers who had already been up for hours, and were just putting the finishing touches on their displays as i walked up to say hello. The morning was stunning, with perfect light and just the slightest chill in the air. The displays were even more beautiful, carrots and radishes and bell peppers piled high. I left each market feeling in awe of each farmer in the program.

Sweet, crunchy carrots at John Yangas Portland Farmers Market Stand

Christines table cloth adds a personal touch to her display at the Portland Farmers Market

Fennel! This flavor can bring the most mundane of stir fries or fish dishes to a whole new level

Ground Cherries on the left, Tomatillos on the right. Ground Cherries are such a delicious suprise everytime you pull back the husk and pop one in your mouth! Tomatillos make great salsa verde to accompay tacos or enchilladas.

Jabril takes a moment to admire his display at the Saco Farmers Market

The sun shines through these bunching onions at Husseins Kennebunk Stand

French Breakfast Radishes and Kale at Jabrils Saco Market

Seynab piles her beets and carrots high at the Kennebunk Market!

Seynab greeted old friends and customers at the Kennebunk Farmers Market

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Farmer Story ~ Seyanb Ali

      Seynab knows that everything is harder without English, and when she came to the US, her English was “zero.” She didn’t know what she would do, but she soon found common ground when she heard about this program; farming the land was a language she knew. Seynab has been at the core of the program since the beginning and is a role model for farmers new to the program.   Although farming is a common language, Seynab noted that while her English was improving, she was also learning new ways to work with this new land, new climate and new marketing opportunities.

      The language of this earth had new subtleties. In Somalia, people don’t get trained in farming, they “know what farming is, they wait for the rain, for the river to flood the banks, and they know when it is a good time to plant. There is celebration to mark all these passages, before planting and after harvesting”. This is something that has carried over, and the traditions continue. Another difference in the languages of these two countries is the markets, the way things are sold, what costumers expect. “In Africa, they put a couple tomatoes on the table. Here they have to pile the tables high!” She shakes her head in amused confusion.

        Seynab has become used to new vegetables here: beets, arugula, spinach, radishes and lettuce. And she eats everything, except the radishes, and she knows there are people out there with a similar aversion! (We laugh together). Parts of her business are still very difficult. Though she knows countless ways to cook delicious kohlrabi and collard recipes (she is a fantastic cook), she has a hard time communicating this at the market. She wants her costumers to know that her process of farming, though difficult and challenging, is simple without any sprays or pesticides: “we start the vegetables in the greenhouse, then at the end of April, we put the vegetables in the ground, and harvest for our costumers when they are ready”. Everything is grown organically, the way it was done in Africa, and the way it should always be done here.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The miracle of growing food on our farm, for your home...

The miracle of growing food is so beautifully illustrated in This wonderful video of Rosy. A documentary student came to our farm in Lisbon a few weeks ago to get to know Rosy, and through this video, shows the spirit of what it is the farmers do.

The obstacles facing us sometimes seem like mountains that are too hard to overtake, and yet what Rosy is saying here is that we do overcome them, everytime we show up at the farm in the morning, and each time one of you brings our vegetables into your home. The word 'miraculous' is very aptly used here, though we so often forget to see the miraculous.

We are now into our fifth week of CSA, and the bags are starting to hold new colors and textures as August's bounty makes its way into our lives. The long anticipated summer favorites will be arriving soon, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn and eggplant. It is often funny to see the eagerness around the newly arrived small zicchini, or tomatoes. In four weeks time, we will be trying to auction them off at any price, hoping to see less and less of the brugeouning shapes and colors.