Market plans, August 13

We had family visiting most of this week, which went very well and was great fun, but naturally means we’re now behind on many tasks. Thankfully the current and upcoming cool weather will help us catch up. It’s still very dry here; we’ve had little to no meaningful rain even with widespread storms multiple times in the area and across the state over the last week. Our pastures and paths have deep, spreading cracks in them and anything not on irrigation is looking decidedly parched.
Mid-August is a difficult time to farm near a college town. Everything kind of dies for a few weeks as people take vacation, prepare for the semester, etc. The restaurants we work with recognize this down-turn, and don’t order much (if at all) because business is slow (Sycamore closes for a week of vacation), and market has not been very good lately. Yet, of course, this is the natural peak of summer production with lots of fresh items coming on regularly that can’t/shouldn’t be stored long, and farmers are all trying to sell the abundance to a limited audience. So we’re doing lots of home food preservation and cursing the lost revenue. Last week we couldn’t sell out of tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, and garlic sales are noticeably slower than last year. Okra has done surprisingly well. Overall I’m seeing a lot of produce unsold at the end of market, across the board. More vendors, less customers/customer spending, more production per vendor, equals lower sales and income. Frustrating. But every meal we prepare and eat at this time of year is deliciously fresh & flavorful, so that counts for something at least.

This week’s market will look a lot like last week’s, with possible (or soon) addition of cucumbers and squash, both of which are close to yielding on a new planting.

AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Hot peppers: Green Anaheim & jalapeno hot peppers.

Sweet peppers: Red and yellow sweet peppers are just beginning to ripen. We don’t grow full sized bell peppers, but we’ve found several varieties of open-pollinated/heirloom sweet peppers that we think have amazing flavor and can be used just like bell peppers. These include: Doe Hill Golden Bell, a sweet, roundish, yellow-orange pepper that is Joanna’s favorite; Sheepnose Pimento, a sweet red pepper shaped similarly to the Doe Hill; Chervena Chushka, a pointy sweet red pepper with nice thick walls; and Jimmy Nardello’s Italian Frying Pepper, an all-purpose narrow pointy pepper that is Eric’s favorite.
Cherry tomatoes: Heirloom mix, lots of different flavors and colors. At peak of production right now.

Basil: There are so many things you can do with lots of basil: make pesto, put leaves on sandwiches, add to Thai/Asian cooking, infuse in sugar syrups for desserts and drinks, etc. It’s also easy to preserve, either by making and freezing pesto, or by packing the leaves directly into olive oil and freezing in small jars. Basil will store well in a jar of water on the counter; it will turn brown in the refrigerator. We’re harvesting from our last planting of basil, and availability may begin to dimish after this week.
Edamame: Get there at opening bell if you want them. One of the few things we can’t match demand on, but we just can’t handle the picking time and labor it would take to seriously increase our production. If you miss them at market, try Root Cellar.

Tomatoes: Small-medium slicers, red and orange. Dry weather is contributing to very nice flavor and quality, great for all tomato uses. Some of the tomato plants are experiencing an outbreak of what we believe is tomato spotted wilt virus; this isn’t affecting fruit quality but it may cut the harvest short.

Okra: Two varieties, really producing well right now. Fry it in salted cornmeal, add to soups/stews/beans, use in Indian cooking…Okra also freezes very easily; just pop it in a freezer bag (no blanching) for easy use in winter stews. We freeze it by the gallon this way.
Tomatillos:  For a really easy, excellent sauce, spread tomatillos, tomatoes, garlic, and peppers on a baking tray, coat all with a bit of oil, and roast at 400 for 30 minutes before blending and adding salt. That’s all it takes.

Garlic: All varieties available this week. Roast it, grill it, make salsa, make pesto…what meal doesn’t use garlic this time of year?

Herbs: Parsley, sage, thyme, mint, tarragon, and possibly more depending on what looks good at harvest time.

3 thoughts on “Market plans, August 13

  1. While doing research on planting seasons and prep work for my next novel, I found your posts not only useful but really endearing (particularly your post about the Republican's party's denial of basic human rights in terms of homosexual marriage–I couldn't help reading that one too). It sounds like you're doing amazing things with your farm and I wish you the best of luck!

  2. Eric overall this year I think I see a downturn in the number of people at the market; at least at the early morning Saturday market. There's no trouble finding a close parking spot, and there is a lot of produce with not that many people buying. And I think overall vendor numbers are down. I have yet to see a single week this year with vendors lining the front edge of the market, or the need for a third row on the South side. Those were common sights in past years. Of course I'm not at the market each week, but it's very interesting. I'm sure the current new mess in the economy doesn't help.

  3. Robin,I've seen the third row along the front lot many weeks, though you're right it's not there all the time. Vendor numbers are still high, there are a lot of new people with only a few veterans missing (several not selling this year had two stalls each, so that absorbs four new vendors from the front row right there). I've talked to several other solid, veteran vendors who say their sales are down up 30-50% over last year; we fall in that range too. Moreover, the amount of cheap/underpriced produce at the market has increased significantly, which may be good for individual customers but isn't for the more business-minded farmers who can't afford to go cut-rate like a hobbyist can (this is also something multiple veteran vendors have talked to me about).