OUT OF THE KITCHEN: CHEFS AT MARKET
Every summer Sunday morning at 11am, a crowd gathers around a table at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market. Everyone, including a nearby canine or two, has their eyes glued to the chef behind the table who chops aromatic scallions while melting butter in a hot pan and guides the audience through the steps of a seasonal recipe. This is the FRESHFARM Market’s Chef at Market program.
Through the program, FRESHFARM Markets operates approximately 200 demos each year at all 10 farmers markets in the hopes that chefs and home-cooks can help share their knowledge on how to use seasonal fresh produce. The demos are not just educational, but a chance to build connection between local chefs and local farmers. However, 15 years ago, when the program started, things were much different.
The Chef at Market program was born shortly after the Dupont Circle market opened in July 1997, and while the program goals were very much the same, it was difficult to coax chefs from the kitchen. FRESHFARM Market’s Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, Ann Yonkers spent hours not only recruiting chefs to the program, but also conducting many of the demos herself. At that time, it wasn’t just the program that was new, but also the farmers market, and for many, the concept of eating local and seasonal foods. But, there is something unifying about good food, and it didn’t take long until chefs, shoppers and farmers began gathering round the table.
Today, Chef at Market Program Coordinator, Maddy Beckwith, fields applications from hundreds of chefs and food authors each year, most local, but some, including Michael Pollan, Jacques Pepin and Mollie Katzen (Moosewood Kitchen) traveling to the District for book signings. Rather than spending hours pounding the pavement recruiting, Maddy now spends hours networking by phone and email, coordinating recipes, and sourcing ingredients from the farmers. During the peak season, Maddy coordinates about five demos per week, everything from the home-cook with a fabulous recipe for kale, to the giant Paella extravaganzas hosted by Jose Andres’s Jaleo, in which a team of chefs, often including Jose himself and a guest chef from Spain, roll out the nine-foot diameter Paella pan and cook a meal large enough to feed the entire market.
The broad reach of the program now allows us to attract a wide range of cooking talent, and even host demos that feature many vegetarian, vegan or even raw-foods chefs. For the chefs, the program is more than just publicity. It’s a chance to get out of the kitchen, enjoy the market day, and directly interact with the people who eat their food. Some chefs, such as Michael Costa, Ris Lacoste, Odessa Piper or Janis McLean, have dedicated countless hours, early mornings and hot summer days to the program. The demos are fun and dynamic and sometimes a bit unexpected. During one demo, Jared Slip, of Notte Bianche and Dish, proposed to his girlfriend by slipping a ring over a spear of asparagus and passing it to her as the first sample (she said yes).
While marriage proposals might not happen every week, we hope that the Chef at Market experience is not only an opportunity for our customers to sample some free food, but also inspiration to try a new vegetable or learn new cooking techniques. And for us at FRESHFARM Markets, not only do we get to learn along side our customers, but we revel in watching the great connections that arise between grower, cook and eater.
Hungry for More? Check out upcoming chef demonstrations on our calendar, and search our recipe database for past demo recipes.
Post by Laura Genello, FRESHFARM Markets Newsletter
EVENINGS, WEEKENDS AND ALL THE TOMATOES YOU CAN EAT
Remember in pre-school when your teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? Maybe you hoped to be an astronaut or an artist, a park ranger or a fire-fighter? But how many children dream of one day being a farmers market manager? Probably none. We sure didn’t. But the job of running farmers markets involves the creativity of an artist, the all-weather gear of a park ranger and the ability to work with both fire marshals and space cadets. The truth is “farmers market manager” doesn’t fit neatly into a career checkbox, but it’s rewarding, and never dull.
While a year round occupation, prepping for market openings in the spring is the busiest and most exciting part of the year for Juliet Glass and Reg Godin, the Directors of Market Operations at FRESHFARM Markets. The two handle everything from securing annual permits to selecting farmers and producers, and it all begins with the application process in December and January.
FRESHFARM Markets are producer-only, meaning that all applicants must be growing their own product, or if making a value added product, use some proportion of locally grown ingredients. For example, bakers can use local eggs or hot food producers can use local vegetables. Juliet and Reg conduct phone consultations with hundreds of interested applicants, ensure that all applicants have current insurance and licensing, and conduct farm and kitchen visits.
It’s only after the long process of fielding applications that Reg and Juliet sit down with FRESHFARM Markets’ Executive Directors, Ann Yonkers and Bernie Prince, and make admission decisions over the course of several meetings and a lot of eating. The team relies on years of data listing sales by market to aid in these decisions. However, Juliet says, “choosing the right line-up for the market is bit like a game of tetras.” Finding the best fit is hard: while a little competition will attract more customers, too much can harm individual businesses.
However, the farmers and producers are not the only concern. According to Reg, engaging with a vast array of local stakeholders is one of the most important prerequisites for opening a market. From city business improvement districts to local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) the market community is diverse, and sometimes the various groups have conflicting priorities. Reg and Juliet’s job is to ensure that the market is a positive part of the community for all.
Finally, there are the logistics. Juliet and Reg secure permits, measure booth spaces, distribute flyers and hire and train market staff. With so many moving parts, deadlines can come down to the wire, and Juliet says that one year, due to computer trouble a permit for a section of a market was not secured until an hour before farmers arrived. Prepping for market logistics is a team effort and Juliet and Reg work with all market staff to pack bins, organize supplies and install “no parking signs.” Juliet says there’s always a huge sense of relief when the bell rings on opening day and all the farmers & producers fit in their spaces. At that point, she enjoys witnessing interactions among farmers and customers, happy to see each other after a long winter season.
Successfully running farmers markets requires planning for the unexpected: a hail-storm, a nearby protest, or the surprises that we often find parked in the market space (everything from cars to heavy construction equipment). Our markets are vibrant, outdoor, public spaces and a little chaos comes with the territory. Yet it is this same vibrancy that makes the job both fun and satisfying.
Post by Laura Genello, FRESHFARM Markets Newsletter.
CSA SHARES FROM FRESHFARM FARMERS
A CSA is an alternative economic model for small-scale farmers in which members purchase a share in a farm for a season and receive a corresponding amount of product. The system provides the farmer with revenue up-front that can be used to cover seasonal start-up costs and also helps protect the farmer against the financial harm of individual crop failure. For the customer, it’s a great way to cut down on time grocery shopping, experience new products, and even save money. If you’re curious about joining a CSA, many FRESHFARM Markets farmers & producers offer CSA memberships to supplement their farmers market sales. Here are some of the options:
Produce & Fruit
Radix Farm – Grows vegetables on 3 acres in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Sells at the Ballston FRESHFARM Market. Choose between two CSA types: a Regular CSA and a Market CSA (debit style system where members choose what they want from the market stand). They offer a limited number of subsidized CSA shares for qualifying low-income households. Pick-Up Locations: Regular CSA- Tuesdays, at St. Stephen’s Church, (1525 Newton St. NW, Washington, DC). 5:30-7:30pm. Market CSA- Ballston FRESHFARM Market. Cost: Regular CSA is $675 per share. Market CSA is $425 or $600 (customer receives an additional 6% or 10% bonus). Contact: Kristin Carbone at Radixfarm@gmail.com
Spiral Path Farm – Grows certified organic vegetables and some fruit on 255 acres in Loysville, PA. Sells at the Downtown Silver Spring FRESHFARM Market. Spiral Path Farm offers “full” or “medium” CSA shares. The exact price depends on the pick-up location (including our Silver Spring FRESHFARM Market), so please see their website for full information.
Bigg Riggs Farm – Grows veggies and fruit and offers a variety of prepared products. Sells at the Crystal City FRESHFARM Market and the FRESHFARM Market by the White House. Unlike a traditional CSA, with the Bigg Riggs share customers come to market and pick out the produce they want. Shares also include the occasional addition of prepared products like jam, applesauce and more. The two FRESHFARM Markets pickup sites are Crystal City on Tuesdays and by the White House on Thursdays. Cost: Half Share: $410, about 6 pounds of produce/week. Full Share: $775, about 12 pounds of produce/week. Contact: Calvin Riggleman at email@example.com or 540-550-5480
Agriberry Farm: Grows berries, tree fruit and some vegetables on 35 acres in Hanover County, VA. Sells at the Annapolis FRESHFARM Market. This 20-week CSA share offers 6-units of fresh local seasonal berries, spring veggies and orchard fruit. Agriberry partners with a few other family farms so they can ensure well-rounded fruit shares. Applications can be downloaded from the website and mailed in with a check. Pick-Up Locations: The Eastport Shopping Center, 1030 Bay Ridge Rd, Eastport, Annapolis, MD or Victoria’s Fancy Foods, 350 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, MD. Cost: Discounted to $552 until 4/15, after that price is $600 for the full season.
Kuhn Orchards: Grows fruit & vegetables in Cashtown, PA. Sells at the Crystal City FRESHFARM Market. Kuhn Orchards offers a winter CSA (November through April) composed of apples, Bosc pears, sunchokes, potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, and value-added items, such as cider. They do supplement the boxes with local eggs and lettuce from near-by farms. Pick Up Locations: Every other Saturday in Vienna, VA, Lorton, VA, and in Washington, D.C. On 14th & V Streets, NW. Cost: $35/CSA box. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meat & Eggs
Evensong Farm- Pasture-raised pork, chicken, beef and eggs as well as a few veggies and herbs in Sharpsburg, MD. Sells at the Silver Spring and Penn Quarter FRESHFARM Markets. Egg CSA – The Egg CSA enables the customer to pay up front for eggs s/he will purchase at market. Customers join for $60 (the cost of 12 dozen eggs), but throughout the 15 week season, they will receive 13 dozen eggs. Julie holds your eggs for the first three hours of market, so you don’t have to worry about rushing to market before they sell out. Available at the Penn Quarter or Downtown Silver Spring FRESHFARM Markets. Farmata Account – The customer joins by putting a minimum of $250 in the Farmata Account, and every week at market they receive a 10% discount on all products until the amount in the account is used up. Contact: Julie Stinar within the next two weeks at Julie@evensong-farm.com
There may be other CSAs offered throughout the market season, so ask your favorite farmer if s/he will be doing one. Another good resource for CSAs is found on www.localharvest.org.
VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS…OF FARMERS MARKETS
FRESHFARM Markets is extremely excited to open its second Virginia market at the end of June. After three years of running the Crystal City FRESHFARM Market, we’ve learned that Virginia’s diverse communities are filled with dedicated locavores who make farmers markets flourish. So when the Ballston Business Improvement District approached us this Spring about this relatively new market, we jumped at the chance.
Located in the heart of Ballston at Welburn Square (Fairfax Drive between North Taylor and Stuart Streets), the Ballston FRESHFARM Market will be open from 3pm – 7pm every Thursday from June 28 until October 25.
Like all our markets, the Ballston FRESHFRM Market is a producer-only market and highlights local farmers and artisanal producers. This means that everything sold at market is grown or produced in the Cheasapeake region by the individuals selling it. Ballston FRESHFARM Market will open with a wide variety of farmers and producers offering a robust mix of fruits and vegetables, meats, cheese, bread and a few fun prepared products for good measure. Some of the producers are the usual wonderful one’s found at other FRESHFARM Markets, while others are new to our markets.
Without further ado, Ballston, here’s a sneak peak at your new farmers and producers, with more to come as the market opening date gets closer!
- Capitol Kettle Corn (Ft. Meade, MD) is small minority-owned, family-run business, offering a delicious whole grain snack you’ll feel good about eating. Popped on site and seasoned with all natural flavors that range from Ethiopian Spice to Old Bay, Capitol Kettle Corn uses top grain “Mushroom” style popping corn grown locally within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
- Evergrain Bread Company (Chestertown, MD) makes some of the very best European style breads and pastry we’ve tasted. Anywhere. All breads are naturally fermented. Evergrain uses the highest quality ingredients available, including local eggs and butter.
- Fresh Crunch Pickles (Arlington,VA) makes fresh refrigerator pickles weekly based on what’s in season from traditional cucumber pickles to more adventurous varieties like charred asparagus to spicy okra.
- Garden Path Farm (Newburg, PA), owned and operated by the Kauffman family, raises heritage breeds of cattle, sheep, pigs along with turkey, chicken, rabbit and duck. The Kauffman family uses timeless methods that include feeding their animals nutritious grasses, clean water, and love. FRESHFARM Market favorites from Garden Path include lamb bacon and amazing eggs.
- Gunpowder Bison & Trading Co. NEW! (Monkton, MD) Gunpowder Bison & Trading Co. was founded in 2005 by Trey Lewis, whose vision was to transform his family’s 70 beautiful acres in northern Baltimore County into a working farm. The farm is now home to 200-plus pasture-grazing bison and a retail store that sells the healthy, flavorful meat, low in fat, cholesterol and calories, but high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Gunpowder Bison & Trading Co. sells a wide variety of cuts, including steaks, roasts, sausages and burgers. All GBT meat is raised naturally on the farm. No hormones, antibiotics or feed additives are used, and all processing is done under USDA inspection. The bison meat is dry-aged to insure a premium product. It’s all natural, healthful and great-tasting.
- Mickley’s Orchard (Biglerville, PA) makes its FRESHFARM Market debut in Ballston. Mickley’s is a fifth generation, 85 acre farm that grows 13 varieties of apples, peaches, plums, apricots, pluots, sweet cherries, and (heart shaped) walnuts along with some cane fruits and vegetables. Mickley’s also will bring farm fresh eggs weekly that come from their flock of hens.
- Pleitez Produce (Montross, VA) is a family-owned and operated-farm, offering a dazzling array of field produce. Located in the Northern Neck of Virginia, Pleitez enjoys a long growing season that it extends with its seven greenhouses. This means early (and late) strawberries, tomatoes and just about everything else.
- Radix Farm (Upper Marlboro, MD) is a small sustainable farm that grows healthy and delicious produce. Although notcertified organic, Radix follow organic practices (no synthetic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms) to grow high quality, diversified field produce. These small-scale and natural growing methods allow radix to nurture the soil and provide individual attention to the plants.
- Shells Yes! Crab Cake Company (Chester, MD) The husband-and-wife team behind Shells Yes! use locally sourced crab meat in their Chesapeake-inspired prepared foods: fresh Maryland jumbo lump crab cakes, chilled Maryland crab soup, crab chowder and signature tartar and whole grain mustard tartar sauce.
- The Farms at Ellis Bay (Nanticoke, MD) is a 16 acre flower farm on Eastern Shore and is new to FRESHFARM Markets. Ellis Bay brings cut flowers (dahlias, sunflowers, lilies and beyond), blooming branches, alongside potted plants for your garden or patio.
- Westmoreland Berry Farm
(Oak Grove, VA) is a specialty berry farm that grows strawberries, blackberries, red raspberries, blueberries, along with some tree fruit. Westmoreland also offers cider, jams, butters, and jellies and wood bbq chips
- Wild Rose Soap Company (Gaithersburg, MD) specializes in all-natural, handcrafted luxurious body products, including soap, lotion, body scrubs, bath bomb cupcakes, herbal bath teas, and bath salts. Wild Rose uses local ingredients whenever possible, such as wool for its felted soap and beeswax from local farms.
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF SHOPPING AT A FARMERS MARKET
Whether you’re green to farmers markets or a seasoned shopper, here are 14 handy tips that will help you get the most out of your next visit to our farmers markets.
1. Start off your shopping by doing a tour of the market so you can check out each of the market stands. This will give you the chance to locate products, farmers and producers you like and want to come back to.
2. Toting reusable bags is just the beginning! Given our steamy summers, an insulated cooler bag (and some reusable freezer packs) will keep your meat, poultry, eggs and dairy from spoiling and your tender greens fresh and perky. To protect delicate berries and cherry tomatoes, repurpose plastic clamshell containers (the ones you get with your grab-and-go lunch) or bring other reusable lidded containers for these market dainties.
3. Brings lots of small bills. This will speed up your purchasing and the farmers will thank you!
4. Arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds and to have the best selection from which to choose. Looking for a bargin? Arrive near closing and you might be able to snag a good deal on extra product that a farmer might not want to take back to the farm.
5. Don’t let the rain keep you away. Farmers markets are rarely, if ever, canceled and the farmers and producers will be thrilled to see you.
6. Introduce yourself. Farming is hard and often solitary work and many farmers love the bustle of market days and talking with their customers. Develop a rapport with your farmer. Ask them about their farming and growing practices, what’s in season and the best way to use their vegetables.
7. Shop outside your comfort zone. Buy things you haven’t tried before and ask the farmer or producer their favorite way to prepare it. Don’t shy away from root vegetables with dirt clinging to them and greens still attached. This means they are super fresh.
8. Extend the seasons yourself by buying in bulk for canning or freezing. Often if you order ahead, a farmer might cut you a deal. If the prospect of canning is daunting, look to see if your favorite farmers market offers canning demos, or enlist a friend and can together.
9. Visit our market information table to pick up recipes for what’s in season. We have a recipe box at every market and 15 years of recipes you can access through our searchable recipe database on our website.
10. Check out the Chef at Market cooking demonstrations at our markets to pick up new ideas and to get a sample of tasty seasonal and local cooking.
11. Know your seasons. Prices fluctuate throughout the year based on what’s in season and how much of a product a farmer has on hand. Buy items like tomatoes or strawberries and other fruits and vegetables when they are plentiful. Odds are you’ll get a better price.
12. Recognize there are all kinds of farms at market who utilize different growing practices. The great thing is you can ask how everything is grown and get an answer from a human being, quite possibly the person who grew your purchases, not a label. Here are a few of the different ways foods are grown: – greenhouses, hydroponic, organic, conventional, on pasture, and using integrated pest management. Ask the farmer which they practice and what these mean.
13. Plan ahead. Recognize that each market has a different personality and different farmers and producers. Our markets range from small to large, depending on the neighborhood. They all have quality food and products. Big doesn’t always mean best; best can mean what fits a neighborhood and the location of a market. FRESHFARM Markets are producer-only, which is a guarantee of authenticity. This means everything at market was grown or prepared by the people who are behind the market stands. Also, all our farmers and producers come from the Chesapeake Bay watershed, within a 200-mile radius of Washington, DC.
14. Sign up to receive FRESHFARM Markets weekly eNews or follow your favorite market, farmer or producer on Facebook and Twitter. This is a great way to find out what is happening on the farm, products that are going to be a market and other market happenings.
Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Email it to email@example.com.
HOW TO SHOP AT WINTER FARMERS MARKETS
Did you know that FRESHFARM Markets operates two year-round farmers markets in Dupont Circle and Silver Spring? They occur every week – rain, snow or shine. Our market staff keep snow shovels on-site, and our farmers haul out portable heaters and walls for their tents creating a warm oasis of vegetables.
At first glance the Dupont Circle or Silver Spring FRESHFARM Market farmers markets may seem rather sparse compared to the abundance of late August. Look closer and you’ll find hardy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, kale and even hydroponic lettuces amongst the storage crops including sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips and potatoes. It’s a common misconception that farmers hibernate in the winter, but the winter can actually be a busy time of season planning, building farm infrastructure, winter growing, and attending conferences and workshops.
Shopping at a winter farmers market takes a bit more forethought and dedication, but the rewards are worth it. There’s the joy of fresh food in the middle of winter and the knowledge that you are supporting a valuable sector of the local economy.
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your winter shopping:
1. Dress warm and come early! Bundle up and be the first in line at 10am. Anything green usually sells out early, but the cold weather makes green crops produce more sugars; so winter greens are often sweeter and more flavorful than those grown in the heat of the summer.
2. Plan ahead and check our farmers and producers’ schedules before coming to market. Many of our farmers and producers including Tree and Leaf, Next Step Produce, The Farm at Sunnyside and Compost Cab alternate in the winter months. Check their schedule in our weekly enews, or on the interactive market maps on each market page to be sure that the product you want will be at market.
3. Stock up on non-perishables. See something good? Buy it before it’s gone. Storage crops like potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and roots like beets and turnips will keep for many weeks, even months, if stored properly. Buy what you like and use it throughout the winter. Unwashed vegetables keep much longer than those that are scrubbed clean. Tubers and squash should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place. Be on the lookout for any wounds or points of damage as they will decrease the shelf life. Beets and other root vegetables can be stored in the fridge for long periods of time.
4. Make soup and freeze it! Fresh vegetables taste best, so use your hardy winter crops right away to make a winter stew or soup and freeze it for an easy meal later on.
5. Don’t forget about meat, bread, seafood and prepared foods. Both Silver Spring and Dupont Circle have a large selection of proteins, and even some prepared foods like soup, pastas, sauces and apple cider. Baked goods including whole grain breads, bagels, cookies and brownies, croissants and quiche are also available.
But however you choose to shop at the winter market, be sure to have fun. Our farmers and producers appreciate your support!
Laura Genello, Program Manager