For our second annual list of “What’s In,” we’ve compiled a snapshot of what is happening at our markets as well as on farms and in kitchens throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We are literally witnessing a transformation of food and farming in the region and at our markets that is driving a delicious food revolution. The unique grass roots character of farmers markets make them great places for moving small farmers and food entrepreneurs to more solid economic footing. The result? Better local food for everyone and more of it. The bottom line remains the same. Put your food dollars in farmers pockets and we not only eat better and are more healthy but the whole region benefits from home grown economic activity.
Whether it be our farmers, local food entrepreneurs or chefs, there is tremendous energy and innovation in the local food scene. Our ?What?s In´ summarizes the broad swath of new ways this is happening right now: bounty, creative ways of financing farm and food businesses; looking at soil, harvesting weeds and native crops, featuring ugly fruit and vegetables or farmers and producers becoming more social media savvy just to name a few. There are so many exciting and innovative things happening that are sure to delight and surprise.
Here?s to hoping the markets keep growing and thriving as they have during our 18 years at the helm of FRESHFARM Markets. Thanks to our farmers and producers, as well as our many loyal and enthusiastic customers, the future looks bright. Hope to meet you at market soon.
~~ Ann Harvey Yonkers, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of FRESHFARM Markets
1. CSA?s = Shopping Done. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA?s) at four of FRESHFARM Markets farmers markets – CityCenterDC, Foggy Bottom, Penn Quarter, and Ballston – deliver convenience and a weekly selection of the best of each market. Many market farmers are also offering their own CSA?s.
2. Not just a pretty face. Farmers and consumers are celebrating the uniqueness of misfit, imperfect fruits and vegetables that deliver as much flavor and freshness as their prettier counterparts.
3. Capital for crops. Micro-lending and grants are new financing tactics that provide farmers and producers an alternative to tough-to-get capital loans from conventional lenders. Kiva Zip and the Jean Wallace Douglas Farmer Fund are two ways FRESHFARM Markets is opening up access to funding so producers and growers can invest, expand and diversify their businesses.
4. Incubating success. With access to the freshest ingredients and an audience hungry for locally sourced and ready to eat foods, a new wave of up and coming local food entrepreneurs are joining the markets and feeding the appetites of market goers.
5. Food entrepreneurs adding to the fermentation fervor. Kombucha starters (also known as S.C.O.B.Y?s), all kinds of kimchi, sauerkraut and even fermented drinks such as wine, cider and kombucha. Expect to see lots of great new products and collaborations between fermenters and farmers.
6. Match making at market. Chefs and artisanal food producers want the most delicious food and local farmers grow it. They are partnering more than ever before to do delicious business with each other and meet the growing demand for locally sourced and crafted products. The result? Flavor begins in the fields and is enhanced in the kitchen; farmers put more dollars in their pockets; restaurant diners find unmatched flavor on their plates and shoppers enjoy a bounty of local food choices.
7. Eat healthy on a budget. Low-income shoppers continue to discover farmers markets as a source for their favorite fruits, vegetables and more. Programs like Matching Dollars are supporting these shoppers? demand for fresh, local and healthy foods throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
8. Dirt?.no longer a four letter word. Healthy food comes from healthy soil and many FRESHFARM Markets? farmers are experimenting with crop rotations to enhance their soil fertility. Cover crop ?cocktails? are especially popular as farmers and researchers confirm that diverse crop rotations build the healthiest soils, which results in nutritious and delicious food.
9. Foraging for weeds and native foods. Given market customers ever widening appetites, farmers are foraging for, growing and selling crops formerly considered weeds such as amaranth greens, stinging nettle, purslane, ramps and dandelion greens. Foods native to the region are the new darlings including pawpaws, black walnuts and Winesap apples.
10. Get social & know before you go. Farmers and producers are increasingly becoming more tech and social media savvy. Follow them and be the first to find out what they?ll have at market and learn about special end-of market deals. For shoppers who want to learn more about where their food comes from, they can go behind the scenes to see what a day on the farm is like, meet the families behind the food and fall in love with adorable farm animals.