Tag Archives: farmers



TELL US WHAT YOU WANT TO READ ABOUT
Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market

As we kick-off the new year, we want to hear from you.  What would you like to read about on our blog, freshpicked?

When we launched the blog in late 2012, our goal was to tell the untold stories behind bringing local, healthy and fresh food to the Washington, DC region.  It was important to us to highlight the farmers and artisanal producers you see at market every week and the product they sell which is at the core of what we do.  We also wanted to share more about our innovative programs and those who support the critical work we do from the chefs and volunteers to the shoppers and sponsors to whom we are extremely thankful.

But enough about us! What do you want to know more about?  Tell us freshpicked (at) freshfarmmarkets.org.  Looking forward to hearing from you!

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FIFTEEN YEARS AND STILL NO BANANAS
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“Where are the bananas?” We field that question so often at market it has become our in-house joke. A confused market shopper arrives at our information booth and can’t understand why America’s favorite fruit isn’t part of our offerings. They assume we have simply failed to include this popular fruit in our inventory or wonder why we are not like most of the other markets they patronize. They have no idea we actively choose not to include bananas. They are not aware we only sell what is grown and made in the Chesapeake Bay region.

So when Dupont Circle business owner and market advocate, Sue Landini of Axis Salon was looking for a cheeky way to celebrate FRESHFARM Markets, she created one of her signature windows focusing on this absence – FRESHFARM Markets – Fifteen Years and Still No Bananas (see photo).

At the center of the FRESHFARM mission and our markets is a two-word phrase, producer–only. What does it mean? Why does it matter? And why is it so hard to explain?

Producer-only means you are buying from the farmers who grow the food you purchase  and/or from the people who make it (producers such as bakers and cheese makers.) The short version is, “Buy it from the guys who grow or make it.”

In the simplest terms ‘producer-only’ means you are buying directly from a farmer who is selling exclusively what they grew on their own land and harvested with their own hands. It is a ‘seal of approval’ as well as a pledge of authenticity and a guarantee of quality. By buying the fruit, vegetables, meat, flowers, cheese and artisanal products from these farmers you know exactly what you’re getting, whom you are getting it from and how it was raised or grown. All of the farmers and producers that sell at our markets reside within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Everything sold at our farmers markets comes from within a 200-mile radius that includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.

Why does it matter? According to the USDA, the average age of farmers is 57.1 years old and getting older. We need a new generation of local farmers in order to create new sustainable food systems throughout the United States. Research shows that a system such as our markets creates economic opportunities and incentives that encourage young people to enter farming. Our mission is provide them opportunities to sell their product close to home in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. The mission of FRESHFARM Markets is to build a vibrant local food movement in the Chesapeake Bay region. In order to do this we need to build capacity in the farming and artesian food community. We are doing that by restricting our markets to what can be grown and produced locally. We are creating a demand for local growers and producers using local foods. After fifteen years we can see this is working. We can see the change. It’s a mission worth sticking with.

So until we see banana plantations (or coffee, plantations, olive or citrus groves), on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, we will not be including bananas or any other exotic products at our farm stands.

~ Ann Yonkers, FRESHFARM Markets Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director

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HOW TO SHOP AT WINTER FARMERS MARKETS
Dupont Circle Winter Market

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

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