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Growing Kid’s Club Weekly Update

Hey Y’all,

This past Saturday, the Growing Kid’s Club featured the food… carrots!

Club attendees participated in an adorable “duct tape carrot pen” craft. Seriously, take a look at some of the pens they made…

 

Make sure to stop by the Market next Saturday because it will be THE LAST CLUB SESSION of the summer. We will feature potatoes and have a fun potato-printing craft.

See you there,

Emily

 

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Heritage Seeds: Tradition in Farming

Ranelle and Emily

We recently visited one of our vendors, Kasper Creek Farm. Along our tour, I asked Ranelle Kasper, “why do you do what you do?”

Throughout the farm tour, Ranelle spoke of her mother, the woman who inspired her to farm, and her family history in farming.

At one point in the tour, Ranelle took us down into the cellar. There, we discovered rows of mason jars filled with the reds, greens, and purples from jarred tomatoes, pickles, jams, and jellies.

Amidst the stocked shelves, Ranelle reached for one jar in particular, which seemed to have a special significance.

She unscrewed the lid of this mason jar and pulled out an aged and yellowed cloth. The cloth looked brittle, and had many dark speckles on it. Ranelle then explained to us the significance of these extraordinary “speckles” which were actually seeds called hillbilly tomato seeds. These old tomato seeds were once a gift from her mother thirty years ago. Ranelle explained how seed drying on a cloth was one common way farmers used to collect seeds for planting. Even today drying seeds at home from tomatoes in your garden, for many people, proves to be a more affordable alternative than store-bought seeds.

At one point, Ranelle told us about the time she tried to “revive” the seeds to see if she could grow a plant that was once her mother’s. Unfortunately, the seeds have reached their expiration and could not be grown successfully.

While the seeds in Ranelle’s mason jar may never grow into plants prolific of hillbilly tomatoes, they perhaps hold a more powerful significance, nonetheless. These “heritage seeds” continually serve Ranelle a reminder of her childhood – the times spent on her mother’s farm – a time for her when farming was a necessity. To Ranelle, the seeds are her motivation to “do what she does,” and they represent a tradition in farming that she now upholds on her own farm, Kasper Creek. 

Posted by Emily

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Growing Kid’s Club Weekly Update

Hi, Everyone!

Last Saturday, the Growing Kid’s Club featured a fun “grass pet” craft. Club-attendees at the Market created their own grass pets by filling nylon stockings with soil and grass seed. I about a week, with proper watering and sun, grass “hair” should start to sprout from the heads of each chia-pet! The Growing Kid’s club thanks World of Wonder (WOW) for providing the materials for the craft this week.

This Saturday, the Growing Kid’s Club will not be at the Market. Be on the lookout for the Growing Kid’s Club booth July, 22nd and July, 29th. Upcoming crafts include “duct tape carrot pens” and “potato prints.”

For those who are curious – here is the mission of the Market’s Growing Kid’s Club:

MISSION: The Growing Kid’s Club at the Davidson Farmer’s Market aims to highlight and introduce the foods offered by our vendors to young children at the Market. The Club incorporates hands on learning with a weekly craft to educate and introduce children to healthy food options. Club leaders firmly believe children learn best by touching, tasting, manipulating, “playing with” food, and that this gives children real experience (as opposed to looking at pictures of food). At the same time, Club leaders understand that global food shortage is a concept more appropriately taught when older. “Waste” on the other hand, is appropriately taught by example at any level. Additionally, the Club sponsors Market’s vendors each week to build support for local farming and offers a novel way for parents, guardians, and friends to work with and teach their children about healthy food options.

Posted by Emily

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Growing Kid’s Club Weekly Update

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Everyone!

This past Saturday was an exciting and event-packed “Kid’s Day” at the Davidson Farmer’s Market. The Growing Kid’s Club featured a flower-pressing craft with DIY flower presses! Club-attendees at the Market this week had the opportunity to decorate and build their own flower presses. The Growing Kid’s club thanks our flower vendor, Herr Flowers, for providing the beautiful flowers for the craft this week.

*Look for the Growing Kid’s Club booth this Saturday from 8-Noon at the Davidson Farmer’s Market for the next featured market product: seeds! We will feature a fun DIY “grass head” craft at the Market!

For those who are curious – here is the mission of the Market’s Growing Kid’s Club:

MISSION: The Growing Kid’s Club at the Davidson Farmer’s Market aims to highlight and introduce the foods offered by our vendors to young children at the Market. The Club incorporates hands on learning with a weekly craft to educate and introduce children to healthy food options. Club leaders firmly believe children learn best by touching, tasting, manipulating, “playing with” food, and that this gives children real experience (as opposed to looking at pictures of food). At the same time, Club leaders understand that global food shortage is a concept more appropriately taught when older. “Waste” on the other hand, is appropriately taught by example at any level. Additionally, the Club sponsors Market’s vendors each week to build support for local farming and offers a novel way for parents, guardians, and friends to work with and teach their children about healthy food options.

Posted by Emily

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Question your Tomato: Beware of Artificial Ripening

Have you ever reached for a big, red tomato and been surprised by its rock-hard texture? Most likely, the red-ripened appearance of the tomato is deceiving, and what lies underneath its beautiful skin is an unripened fruit.

In August 2011, NPR broadcasted an interview “The Unsavory Story Of Industrially-Grown Tomatoes” with Barry Estabrook, the author of the book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. 

“Tomatoland” written by Barry Estabrook

During this broadcast, Estabrook recounts a disturbing experience with the beloved fruit. He was driving behind a large distribution truck when a few fruits, appearing to be “green apples” indestructibly bounced out the rear of the truck and rolled off the highway. These “apples” were in fact unripened tomatoes mid-transport. Why would a truck transport a full load of unripened tomatoes?

On the broadcast, Estabrook then explains the fate of these unripened, green tomatoes en route for distribution. First, the full tomatoes are handpicked and then loaded into trucks. Soon after, the fruits are brought to a warehouse where they are then cleaned, waxed, and cartoned. Next, the bright green tomatoes are then brought into warehouses where processors emit ethylene gas spray on them.

What is ethylene and what does it do?

Ethylene is a gaseous plant hormone that regulates plant growth. When applied to fruits, it initiates the ripening process and causes the fruit to turn red. The chemical also affects the flavor by increasing sugar compounds and decreasing acidity within the fruit. This chemical is emitted naturally by plants in fields, but only when the plants naturally want to ripen.

Why might producers spray tomatoes with this chemical?

Tomatoes are extremely perishable. Depending on where the tomato comes from and its destination, the fruit will have to remain in a truck or warehouse for weeks. For example, a tomato traveling to Florida, an area nonnative to tomatoes, is going to have more travel time. Therefore, producers might ship unripened tomatoes, which they believe would survive the long journey. The producers will likely expel the ethylene gas while the tomatoes are in mid-travel. Artificial ripening in this case assures that tomatoes will survive travel and look red and “fresh” before shelf stocking at the store.

While artificial ripening by ethylene gas turns unripened tomatoes red, it does not actually “ripen” the fruit. This procedure is a result of modern industrial agriculture which has “destroyed” the fruit, as Estabrook claims.

Now you know, and what can you do?

If you do not already, you might want to consider buying your tomatoes (and other produce for this matter) at your local farmers market. At the Davidson Farmers Market, all farm vendors are based within 100 miles of the town of Davidson. Therefore, products will most likely spend, at most, an hour traveling, not to weeks.

When you purchase goods at the Market, you will not only invest in quality goods, but also support the farmers who care about good farming practices. You support local farmers who do not compromise the integrity and quality of the food you eat for sole economic gain.

If you purchase a tomato at a supermarket, be sure to look past the color of the fruit and test for its texture. Does it feel rock-hard? If so, it is most likely an unripened tomato sulking behind a facade of gaseous crimson.

Happy shopping!

Watch this time-lapse below to see the effects of ethylene gas on artificial tomato ripening.

Posted by Emily

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Innovative Solutions: Farming with Science and Creativity

“If a farmer stopped farming every time she/he encountered a little bad weather or a little bad luck, pretty soon we’d all starve.” – Carter Swancy, Riverview Farm, GA.

In the local food production system, unpredictable natural occurrences are considered especially heinous. In North Carolina, the dedicated farmers who battle these vicious obstacles are members of an elite squad belonging to the Davidson Farmers Market. These are their stories. (Dun dun).

Rows of tomatoes on Correll Farms.

1. Spanning 8 acres, tomatoes are one of the most valued crops on the Correll farm. On a recent site visit, I asked farmer David Correll about the challenges of maintaining such needy plants. He then explained the story of his foe: the two-spotted spider mite. Around July each year, this mite feasts on the tender tomato plant. As the mite feasts, the tops of the plant turn brown and dry with a lack in moisture.

Lately, the Correll farmers are coordinating with Dr. Jim Walgenbach and his lab at NC State to introduce controlled species of predatory mites onto the infested tomato plants, with hopes to reduce spider mite presence. Naturally, predatory mites that eat the spider mites will follow the spider mites. The Walgenbach Lab maintains colonies of spider mites and their predatory mites for year-round toxicological and behavioral studies research in greenhouses. When Correll needs the predatory mites, the scientist will introduce tomato plants, infested with the mite-eater, every 80 feet throughout Correll tomato rows. As a result, the predatory mites will eat off the mites preying on the plants. This tactic of integrated pest management is a much cheaper alternative to miticide sprays.

Farmer Cheryl Correll says, “I like to believe in Mother Nature, like let the mites come and eat all this stuff up! Some things you can’t control, and that’s good. It’s a balance.”

Barbee peach orchard. Notice the circular-shaped scorch in the ground, remnant of March’s fire burning episode.

2. On a recent site visit to Barbee Farms I asked farmer Tommy Barbee, “out of the hundreds of food varieties you grow, what is your favorite?” “Peaches,” he quickly replied.

Barbee began to tell us some of the frustrations he has faced while growing this fruit-favorite. Like any farmer, he constantly has to deal with freak incidents of nature. For example, last year Barbee farms lost over 600 trees to a bacterial canker disease. The disease once attracted destructive Asian Ambrosia Beatles. The beetles, attracted to the aroma of the bacterial canker, drilled toothpick-sized holes in the tree trunks. Many of the trees surviving today still bear wounds from the disease.

More recently, damaging winter frosts have kept all peach farmers scrambling to rescue their orchards. For the second year in a row, cold winters in NC have created destructive frost and hindered peach harvest. As Barbee toured us through his orchard, he pointed out several “burn spots” from bonfires – the remnants of his efforts to melt the frost from killing the trees. Last March, Barbee farmers maintained bonfires in over 50 barrels. For a solid week, they burnt wood in these barrels to create a vortex of heat surrounding the cold peach trees.

Efforts to save the peach trees during the day.

Efforts at night to keep the trees warm.

Barbee recounted the disturbing memory and told me, “That was a week from hell. We pretty much did not sleep for a solid week… burning fires at night, cutting wood during the day.” Other NC peach farmers suffered the same fate. Calvin Phillips of Peaches N’ Cream Farms told me he had to do the same. On their farm, they also utilized windmill power to facilitate warm air circulation throughout the orchards.

“Peaches can give you more nightmares…” said Tommy. “They seem to be one of the more challenging crops for people” interjected Abby, Manager of the DFM. “They are,” continued Tommy, “and I guess that’s what makes them so damn appealing to me, because I want to beat this. Yes, it’s a challenge. I’ll show them!”

Tommy Barbee holding “his favorite” crop.

3. At Big Oak farms in Denver, NC, all cattle freely graze in rolling pastures. During hot summer months, they tend to roam and wander into the woods for shade, where they can also find a shallow stream of running water.

Farmer Dawn Smith with one of her cows.

Mike Smith, farmer of Big Oak, had to come up with a solution to keep the free-roaming cattle from getting lost upstream. With a home-made approach, Smith created his own solution out of plastic pipework. His invention hinders the cows from getting lost and wandering upstream. At the same time, the contraption allows the stream’s running water to pass through the pipes. Now, Smith can rest assured knowing that his cattle can roam the lands without getting lost and into trouble in the creek.

Farmer Mike Smith’s home-made invention.

Scientists. Caretakers. Engineers. Artisans. Inventors. These are some of the identities I have observed in my local farmers. In order to be successful in maintaining a farm, sustaining a livelihood, and providing food, a farmer has to battle the unpredictable and uphold flexibility. At times you might not think about the effort and time local farmers put into their crafts. They will do whatever it takes to get the foods you love to your plate. Thank them.

Posted by Emily
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Chef Demo Premier at Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry

Chef Abby and Betsy prepare the meal 

(Photos courtesy of Emily)

Last Wednesday, the Davidson Farmer’s Market premiered the Market Chef Demo series at the local Loaves and Fishes food pantry.

Supplied with local produce from Barbee farms and fresh meat from Big Oak farms, Davidson Farmer’s Market staff showed about seven Pantry shoppers one easy-prep meal option with Market goods.

The meal, prepared by Chef Betsy, included locally grown greens: kale and rainbow chard. Also in the dish were finely chopped green onions, yellow and red cherry tomatoes, and parmesan cheese. The protein – ground pork sausage complemented the sautéed greens.

The Farmer’s Market Demo proved to be a great learning opportunity for Pantry shoppers. Market Staff provided an example of affordable market goods that can be purchased with the SNAP program and EBT card at the Market. The Chef Demo was also an opportunity to show shoppers an example of how to properly prepare greens (ie. peeling leaves off the stems).

The easy-prep and affordable meal demonstration was a hit to Pantry shoppers. We hope to see some familiar faces out at the market!

Posted by Emily

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Growing Kid’s Club Weekly Update

 “Ears of Corn” this past Saturday.

Photos courtesy of Emily

Hello Everyone!

This past Saturday, the Growing Kid’s Club featured a fun painting craft with corn! Club-attendees at the Market this week had the opportunity to paint with corn cobs and make beautiful printed cardstock. The Growing Kid’s club thanks Twin Oak farms for providing the corn this week.

*Look for the Growing Kid’s Club booth this Saturday from 8-Noon at the Davidson Farmer’s Market for the next featured market product: flowers! We will feature a fun home-made flower pressing craft for Kid’s Day at the Market!

 

For those who are curious – here is the mission of the Market’s Growing Kid’s Club:

MISSION: The Growing Kid’s Club at the Davidson Farmer’s Market aims to highlight and introduce the foods offered by our vendors to young children at the Market. The Club incorporates hands on learning with a weekly craft to educate and introduce children to healthy food options. Club leaders firmly believe children learn best by touching, tasting, manipulating, “playing with” food, and that this gives children real experience (as opposed to looking at pictures of food). At the same time, Club leaders understand that global food shortage is a concept more appropriately taught when older. “Waste” on the other hand, is appropriately taught by example at any level. Additionally, the Club sponsors Market’s vendors each week to build support for local farming and offers a novel way for parents, guardians, and friends to work with and teach their children about healthy food options.

Posted by Emily

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Preparing Purple!

Hi, Everyone!

My name is Emily, and I am the Davidson Farmer’s Market summer intern. As an intern, I have the opportunity to accompany my boss on “vendor site visits.” Each of the Davidson Farmer’s Market vendors is within 100 miles of the town of Davidson. This not only makes travel to our vendor farms and business manageable, but also strengthens the Market’s relationship to each of its vendors.

To me, site visits are especially exciting and important because they highlight and reinforce the unique and personable bond the Davidson Farmer’s Market has with each of its vendors.

This past week, I had the opportunity to travel to the beautiful Kasper Creek farm. There, Ranelle Kasper met us and toured us around her and her husband’s beautiful home, orchard, greenhouse, and farm. I especially enjoyed the Kasper Creek blackberries and newly installed cellar (where they store homemade preserved foods and seeds). After my visit to Kasper Creek Farm, I now know what it means to “hull beans” and the labor intensive process of growing them in the first place. Among the variety of lessons and facts that Ranelle taught me (ie. how to hull beans, how to tell ripened blackberries from the unripened, and how to properly dry and grow seeds) I was most surprised to learn about the unique purple produce (Velour purple French filet bean and Purple Beauty pepper) growing on Kasper Creek farm!

Here are three of my favorite purple produce products – and delicious recipes for each. Happy cooking!

  1. Velour purple French filet bean
Velour Bean

Velour purple French filet bean

  • Eat fresh
  • Freezes well
  • RECIPE: Simply, sauté with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • *When cooked, the purple color changes to green!

2. Purple Beauty Pepper

Purple Sweet Bell Pepper

Purple Beauty Pepper

Green Inside of Purple Beauty Pepper!

  • Colored a rich, deep purple
  • Sweet bell flavor
  • Peppers start green, shift to white, and then develop purple stripes that eventually cover the whole fruit.
  • Beautiful pop of color in any dish! Add to fresh veggie trays, sandwiches, salads, and other dishes.
  • RECIPE: Stuffed purple bell peppers:

      Ingredients

    Directions

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Cut the tops off the peppers. Remove and discard the stems, then finely chop the tops; set aside. Scoop out the seeds and as much of the membrane as you can. Place the peppers cut-side up in a baking dish just large enough to hold them upright.

    Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, breaking up the lumps, until the meat is cooked through and just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of the fat.

    Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and chopped peppers and cook until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and zucchini and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and a pinch or 2 of red pepper flakes. Cook until everything is heated through, then stir in the beef and rice. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese.

    Fill the peppers with the rice mixture and top each with a sprinkle of the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Pour a small amount of water into the bottom of the baking dish and drizzle the peppers with a little olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the peppers are soft and the cheese is melted and lightly browned, another 15 to 20 minutes.

    Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond

3. Eggplant 

Image result for eggplant

Eggplant

Lebanese Stuffed Baked Eggplant Dish

One of my favorite Lebanese recipes: Stuffed Baked Eggplant!!!

Ingredients

  • 3 eggplants
  • 1 12-ounce can tomato puree
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • Dash of allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Skin eggplant. Cut into quarters lengthwise. Sauté in butter. Place side by side in baking tray. Slit pieces in center and stuff each piece with 1 tablespoon of stuffing. Pour tomato puree (thinned with a little water) over the eggplant. Bake in moderately hot over (350 degrees) for 20 minutes. Serves 6. 

Posted by Emily

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Growing Kid’s Club Weekly Update

Photos courtesy of Emily

Hello Everyone!

FOOD: We just completed the third week of the Growing Kid’s Club’s new featured-food-curriculum. This past Saturday, the Club’s featured food was “herbs.”

CRAFT: Club-attendees at the Market this week had the opportunity to choose herb seeds (Basil, Oregano, or Parsley) and plant them in individualized (and sustainable!) paper egg cartons.

RECIPES: Click HERE for this week’s Lil’ Chef family fun recipes – Homemade Honey Lemonade with Fresh Mint, Rosemary & Parmesan Crusted Asparagus, and Grilled Pesto Veggie Quesadilla. Happy cooking!

*Look for the Growing Kid’s Club booth this Saturday from 8-Noon at the Davidson Farmer’s Market for the next featured food: corn!

For those who are curious – here is the mission of the Market’s Growing Kid’s Club:

MISSION: The Growing Kid’s Club at the Davidson Farmer’s Market aims to highlight and introduce the foods offered by our vendors to young children at the Market. The Club incorporates hands on learning with a weekly craft to educate and introduce children to healthy food options. Club leaders firmly believe children learn best by touching, tasting, manipulating, “playing with” food, and that this gives children real experience (as opposed to looking at pictures of food). At the same time, Club leaders understand that global food shortage is a concept more appropriately taught when older. “Waste” on the other hand, is appropriately taught by example at any level. Additionally, the Club sponsors Market’s vendors each week to build support for local farming and offers a novel way for parents, guardians, and friends to work with and teach their children about healthy food options.

Posted by Emily

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