The 2013 CSA and Farmers' Market season has begun!
On Tuesday I got my first CSA pick-up of the season, and in a short while I will be off to opening day at the Belmont Farmer's Market. I know that some nearby towns' markets have been going for a week or more (e.g. Arlington, Lexington). So, how's it going? Has our rainy spring affected what you are bringing home with you? Any wonderful new vendors at your local market? Disappointments or good news about your CSA?
For my part, the Waltham Fields Community Farm got off to a great start this week. The many, many types of greens that were available clearly have benefited from the weather, though the sugar snap peas were a bit sparse due to some insect pest that got at them. They've dropped the add-on egg share due to the lack of a supplier, and there was no cheese available this week (though it is supposed to start next week). The perennial herb patch was spectacular, though, better than I have ever seen it before.
So, fellow Hounds, how has eating local season been so far for you?
I'm genuinely starting to wonder if perhaps the Allston Village Farmers Market is being set up to fail. Isn't it a little weird for a so-called farmer's market, in the middle of July, to have exactly ONE stand selling actual vegetables? And even it was kind of pathetically understocked, with a few heads of lettuce, some radishes, some summer squash and a frankly rather sad box of pink hothouse tomatoes. It doesn't exactly scream summer's bounty. So why is this farmer's market so bad?
Because of work constraints, not to mention the rainy weather, Jenny Ondioline and I weren't able to get to the opening of the Brookline farmer's market on Thursday. But today was gorgeous and we needed to take out a Zipcar for the usual weekly errands anyway, so we decided to make a run out to the Waltham farmer's market, which opened today.
Things were jumping, and we got a lot of good stuff: three different lettuces, asparagus, hothouse tomatoes, garlic scapes, bok choy, the nicest purslane I've ever gotten, and a quart of beautiful strawberries. Lots of other good stuff on offer as well - breads, a couple of meat vendors, various prepared foods, even a winery, but we tend to stick to the produce, which is off to a great start.
Got our first share 2 weeks ago from Heirloom Harvest in Westborough. Here are some of the goodies we've been treated to thus far, over the 1st 3 pickups:
lettuce (bibb, green leaf, red leaf)
beet greens (separately, before beets were ready)
My CSA (The Kitchen Garden - my pickup is in the Financial District, but they have several in Cambridge, including a partnership with Clover) runs all year, but the "summer" share started last week - so far it's a lot of herbs and greens and hakurei turnips (anybody have good suggestions for what to do with these? I always eat a few raw and then run out of ideas). This week we got napa cabbage, lettuce mix, spring garlic, scallions, red russian kale, parsley, kohlrabi, and something else that I can't remember.
I've also been shopping at the Davis Square market for a couple of weeks now (they opened EARLY this year). This past Wednesday there were tomatoes everywhere, lots of plantlings, herbs, asparagus and a million greens. I took home some strawberries and sugar snaps from Kimball (they were both delicious) and an early yellow tomato from Enterprise, though they couldn't remember the name of the variety. I'm excited for fresh tomato on my pizza tonight! Tomorrow morning I'll be at Union Square, even though I don't suppose there will be much new - I mostly go so I can get a hipster donut on the way home.
I was going to go with the Kitchen Garden, until I realized the Farm Fresh Direct had an pick up station two blocks from my house. They look really good.
As for Harukei turnips, I'm eating mine raw. Really anywhere you would use a radish, you can use them. Someone last night told me they roast theirs. I may try that this weekend.
Picked up my first batch of fresh fruit and veg last night from the Melrose outpost of Farm Fresh Direct. More than just a CSA, this is an aggie Coop, with several farms represented. Since this is a Coop, we are required to donate two hours to working at one of the outposts during the season and last night was my turn. The rain was miserable but still a good time was had by all.
My share included Broccoli, Harukei Turnips, Red Lead Lettuce, fresh strawberries, rhubarb and a choice between Kohlrabi, Easter Egg radishes, Fresh Garlic or Bok choy. ( I went with Kohlrabi)
The produce looks amazing. I opted into the 'Chef's Share", so I also came home with two live herb plants, tarragon and sage.
This is my first year with Farm Direct, but I'm really excited about being a part of it.
I second your observations about Waltham Fields. This is our first time as a CSA shareholder and we have been very happy so far, both with the greens we got at our first pickup and the pick-your-own.
Incidentally, I have visiting the farm around every week since April to take photos to document the farm's progress throughout the growing season. If you're into photos of plants and crops, I have been posting them here -- saulb.com/WalthamFields
Yes, the pick-your-own can be great. The experience of picking what you will eat for dinner can be very serene, and then there is the simple pleasure of being out in the fields. There's nothing like watching other shareholders' children picking, tasting, discovering... There's also the occasional comedy, like last year's fava bean jungle.
At the risk of OTness - why not share your photos with the farm? I am sure they would appreciate it. Over time I have sent them a few of my own and was very tickled when one or two showed up on their website or Facebook page.
PinchOfSalt, I have indeed shared my images with the team at the farm. (I got in touch with them back in April to make sure they'd be okay with it.)
I agree about the pleasure of picking food that you will use that night for dinner. The pick-your-own was one of the selling points in deciding to become a shareholder this summer.
Since I was not a shareholder last year, may I ask about the "fava bean jungle"?!
The farmers do a lot of research and planning, but the best laid plans do sometimes go astray! When you picked sugar snap peas earlier this week you were able to walk on a (narrow) path between rows and examine each plant for pods that were ready. Now imagine long rows of midriff-high plant growing so happily that paths were no longer visible and one had to part the plants to either side in order to enter the fava bean patch and walk along its rows. The plants were growing so densely that I found myself wondering if there was much picking happening beyond the several feet at the ends of the rows!
Of course that was exceptional. The u-pick-it crops are generally planted perfectly. Can't wait until the cherry tomatoes. Yum.
I too braved the rain for the Belmont market yesterday. I got some nice arugula and radishes from the Farm School, a mint plant from Dick's and asparagus and snap peas from Kimball. The asparagus was excellent last night.
I really wanted to get more plants but I couldn't carry everything and I was trying to be quick in the rain.
I doubt the popsicle lady did much business yesterday but I do look forward to getting a popsicle while shopping in the future!
I haven't been to either of my local markets yet (Beverly and Salem) but have had one pickup from the Food Project CSA at Long Hill in Beverly. Very high quality and large quantity. Kale, chard, spinach or salad mix, arugula, fantastic radishes, cilantro, dill, plus pick your own for other herbs. A woman with a young boy was in front of me in line, and as she explained the items to him he relayed the information to me with great enthusiasm, e.g. THIS IS LETTUCE! YOU DON'T HAVE TO COOK IT!
I went to the first days of both Lexington (last Tuesday) and Arlington (yesterday). Variety of produce was pretty much par for the course this time of the year. Lexington had better weather and a good-sized crowd last week (plus a banjo player!)...Around 4 pm, the "crowd" at Arlington seemed a bit sparse (perhaps it was still too early in the day).
I didn't see the Hmong farmers at either market. I forgot to ask about that on my way home yesterday. They always have the most scrumptious Asian greens.
The Hmong farmers spot in Belmont was vacant today, too. Thinking back, they don't always come early in the season. I've been told that they may not have enough ready to sell. Can't wait until they do show up, though. Like you, I am a big fan.
On the bright side, there was a new vendor who specializes in micro greens and all of the usual farm-based suspects. I got some gorgeous strawberries from Kimball Farms, some fresh (never frozen) east coast shrimp from C&C Seafood, some dill and some purslane from Hutchins Farm, and a nice loaf of Italian bread from Mamadou's. Definitely worth braving the rain!
The CSA I belong to, throught the Brookwood Community Farm in Canton, has been running for over a month now. In last week's box we got:
Choice: Collards or Broccoli Greens
This week we are getting shelling peas, spring onions, beets, and more greens. They have an egg share from Brambly farms, and a Fruit Share as well. I did the Fruit Share last year and it was pretty good, but I decided against it this year. They also have a Pie share this year for the first time, but I didn' t sign up...that all I need is a bunch of delicious fruit pies sitting in my kitchen...
So far, the only thing that's happened with the crops is that the brief heat wave we had, caused most of their broccoli crop to bolt, so we didn't get very much.
They also have a great PYO herbs section with lovely thyme, chives, oregano, sage, basil and mint.
We have been members for the past three years. I am extremely happy with the quality and the variety of the produce. It is wonderful, fresh, tasty and unusual. They also offer an end of the season Bulk order. Last year, we stocked up on Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, onions, garlic and local honey. We didn't need to go to the supermarket for produce until well into January.