Saturday, October 26, 2013

Five Ways to Love Your Farmers' Market

  1. Get there early for the best selection. Typically towards the end of the market there will be less offerings. In a perfect world, we small-timey, local farmers would have an abundance of everything you want, when you want it, but in our very flawed world we deal with crop failures, pests, drought, too much rain, storage, transport issues, packaging conundrums, food-safety and more. It's always good to have questions, but be understanding in your approach.
  2.  Be aware that in a small, local growers' only market there will be less of a selection. It might be different in larger, more urban areas with produce overflowing into the aisles of a large, packed multi-stall covered market but here in the rural county of Montgomery, North Carolina this young market certifies each grower and holds to the standard of "if I don't grow it, I don't sell it here." This can mean the variety or amounts are not overly abundant, but you can be certain that this food is indeed local.
  3. Bring a bag! Buying new bags to send your produce home with you can up the costs for us farmers. Some of use re-use grocery bags, but it's best for food-safety reasons not to put your produce directly into that used bag, so I usually place your fresh food in a bag and then into that used grocery bag to carry it in. If you can bring your own re-usable bag it will do two things:
    1. Lower YOUR cost
    2. Prevent more plastic bags from being thrown into our landfills.
  4. We encourage you to shop around first - go by each vendor table and see what's available first - then come back by and make your selections. You'll be much happier if you do that before making a purchase only to find out another table had more product/better quality/different variety. A little healthy competition is a good thing at the farmers' market!
  5. Get to know your farmers! Ask about their practices; do they use synthetic chemicals, what type of seeds do they use? What other markets do they attend? How long have they been farming? What are their favorite varieties? Often they will have recipes that will offer ways to try things you've never eaten before - be adventurous! 

What are some of the ways YOU love your farmers' market?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Spencer Love

Horses, like people, can enter your life for a reason, season or lifetime. Spencer happens, thanks to my mother who bought him nearly sight-unseen the day he was born, to be a lifetime horse. Within that lifetime there have been many gifts - given and received - and hard lessons learned.

"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward." Vernon Law

More recently I've come to appreciate him in ways I never understood before and could not see. I could wax poetic about all of his wonderful qualities and humorous personality, but it's something you have to experience for yourself to really absorb the full effect.

At attention.

Horses tell the truth, you see, they live in the present. They may remember the past but it is not always their driving force, as it is for some humans. A horse is ever-true to their emotions, their physical pain and their honesty is sometimes hard to take. It's personal unlike any other relationship you'll have.

Living in the moment.

There are many reasons to be thankful for the gift of horses in my life. One of those reasons is that I stayed out of "trouble" as a teen because of a few very special horses.

And now, as an adult, this horse can take me on the trails, around the back pasture and more importantly, he can transport me out of the past and smack dab into the present. This horse is therapy. Caring for him is therapeutic and if you look closely, he has the capability of being a mirror.

What would you see if you looked into the mirror of a horse?