Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Last Winter Farmers Market

It must be Spring. Yesterday was the last Winter Farmer's Market. Now there is a two month hiatus until the Summer Farmer's Market series begins. Although, it's a little hard to imagine that summer is only two months away.

Anyway, we scored some fresh Gulf of Maine shrimp for $1.60/lb. I bought 10 lbs. We got lots of meat cuts: lamb, chicken, elk, beef. Meat is one thing we have trouble finding at our local grocery store that we can identify as sustainable. We can buy organic veggies (industrial organic caveats apply) at the store, but meat is meat; no description.

Anyway, we also got some potatoes, some ridiculously overpriced fresh cilantro, and some organic seasonings. The seasonings booth was looking a little neglected, quite overlooked by the throngs of people looking for dairy, the year's first greens, or meat. So I chatted with the seasonings guy and he told me how he packaged each packet himself last night, so the smell would be fresh. I sniffed a few packets and was intoxicated. I ended up buying three: a meat rub, a curry seasoning, and a seafood spice (perfect for the shrimp).

And by throngs of people, I mean elbow room only. Hundreds of people lined up around the block before the doors even opened, their fabric grocery bags clutched in one hand, dollar bills in the other. A regular counter-culture convention. If people don't think that there's a change afoot, they should visit a farmer's market. Everyone maintained a civil order while pushing to shove their money in farmers' hands, but just barely. Blue-light specials have nothing on this crowd.

After the market, we worked on the greenhouse framing. We framed out the doors, the ventilation openings and other finish work. We made good progress and so, sun willing, we will be priming and painting the frames today.

We're a bit behind on the seed front. One order of seeds has not come in, now 6 weeks delayed. The second sign that change is afoot is that a lot of (organic/heirloom) seed producers can't keep up with the demand. I did finally locate two bags of organic soil to start the seeds in. Let me tell you, organic soil is selling out faster than the seeds. And no, I refuse to buy Miracle-Gro brand organic soil. Talk about an oxymoron.

I have also been restructuring my protein plan (aka the Chickens). I have selected a second breed to use in my sustainable flock: Speckled Sussex. Say that three times fast. They are good layers, considered 'threatened' by the ALBC and are exceptionally cold hardy. They should compliment the meatier Wyandottes (poorer layers) well. Of course, the hatcheries are sold out until summer (third sign that change is afoot), but I found a local woman who will sell me some of her order of sexed pullets at the end of March at the local Chickenswap. Yes. I said "Chickenswap". Anyway, I also stopped by the local (1 mile away) feed store, owned and operated by the cutest old couple of earth, and bought all my chick supplies: Brooder lights, wee feeders, wee waterers. I love this feed store. They have everything and they are only marginally more expensive than Agway (like $18 deerskin insulated gloves over $17). A small price to pay for their convenience and how they hold a ton of hay for us on their word. In fact, I am switching my hay over to them come summer. Love them.

Ahh one more tidbit. I have finally secured a source of organic chicken feed that is non-medicated for the meat birds! You have no idea how hard it is to find non-antibiotic drenched chicken food for broilers. If I wanted medicated meat, I would buy from the grocery store. It's certainly cheaper! Anyway, the prices are in line with other organic bagged feed and it is local (well, Vermont). The supplier is also the guy we get our chickens and pork from. Woot! I will be able to get my chick starter, broiler grower and laying pellets from them (for cheaper than organic from Agway).

Good deals are out there, it just takes a lot of time to find them. Ok, now you're all caught up with positive news (instead of ranting). :) Off to work!


dp said...

This unrelated except as another indicator that change is afoot. On Friday Vancouver passed a bylaw allowing residents to keep up to three laying hens at their homes. We kept three laying hens at home for years in the city and no one ever complained, but that was in poor neighborhood with bigger problems. Good to know that it's now legal and possible for people living in the more uptight, swankier areas. I think many cities are talking about this these days.

Serena said...

I HEART CILANTRO. Whatever you paid was fair. Actually i don't know that. :) I just know i love cilantro with all of my body.
Are you going to have to freeze the shrimp?

Daun said...

Portland, Maine, just passed a similar law. They allow 6 hens, I believe, and are offering a community processor for meat birds.

This is a terrible time for so many, but I believe, in the end, we will all be better for it. And by all, I mean All of Us, Earth included. I have to believe it.

We're having shrimp tonight, but will freeze most of it. We're also making stock. Cilantro is good, we will be growing some indoors. This cilantro was a bit sad, but it's early yet so I am looking forward to what lies ahead.