sweetwater farm’s two new markets — and one partnership with dari mart!

Excited to learn that two of my favorite local farmers, Lynn Crosby and John Karlik of Sweetwater Farm/Good Food Easy CSA, are breaking ground yet again!  That’s Farmer John, above, at this year’s Fun with Fermentation festival.  Creswell-based Sweetwater Farm has two NEW farm stands, one in the Fairmount neighborhood at 19th and Agate on Sundays, and one in an unexpected place — outside the Dari Mart at 1243 Rainbow Drive (at Centennial) in Springfield on Wednesdays.

As excited as I am to see Sweetwater join together with a new local meat and poultry vendor Fair Valley Farm (Edited: some of the participants I listed earlier are not participating) at the Sunday market from 10-2:30, filling a void in our week full of markets, I’m even more excited about the Springfield market on Wednesdays between 4 and 6 p.m.

Why’s that, you say?

It’s not just because today, Wednesday, July 25, is their grand opening with cooking demonstrations and a kids’ activity area from 4:00-6:00 p.m…

It’s what this Springfield market represents: a growing movement to bring healthy and fresh local food to areas that don’t have easy access to fancy supermarkets and almost daily farmers markets like we do in South Eugene.  Dari Mart, a family-owned local company that also operates Lochmead Dairy, has almost 50 stores in the Willamette Valley, and we are so thankful for their interest in sustainability initiatives.  Last year, they formed a partnership  with several local non-profit organizations (including the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition and NEDCO (Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation) of Springfield) to improve good food access and fight childhood obesity in what are called “mixed-income neighborhoods.”  The organization spearheading the effort, Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth (LCHAY), notes that Dari Mart is a pioneer in this type of partnership, as there aren’t many mid-sized chain operators interested in connecting with local farmers and non-profits to introduce fresh produce and other healthy food to the convenience store.  You can learn more about LCHAY’s initiative called the Healthy Corner Store project, and more about Dari Mart’s efforts to bring fresh food to its customers, here.

Sweetwater Farm has been selling produce now for a few weeks at Dari Mart’s Centennial location, and Lynn tells me that it’s been going well so far.  Come make it even more of a success today, and enjoy their official grand opening!

And if your organization is interested in participating in a similar project or you’re looking to give these folks some welcome media exposure, LCHAY’s contact is Claire Syrett, Manager, Policy and Advocacy Initiatives, Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth (LCHAY), 541-682-4306, claire at lchay dot org.

spring vegetables say hello, locavore!

A pile of the first, tender spring roots in our glorious valley never ever fail to make me all daffy.  You can keep your Jesus miracles.  I like natural ones. So I captured a bunch of the beauty at the Lane County Farmers Market today (with a few thrown in from last week).  Click the thumbnails to enlarge.

Lots of radishes: elongated French breakfast, bright pink ruby, and red ones. Hey Bales is growing daikon and has bunches of little ones about 4 inches long.  They’ll make wonderful pickles.

Tiny creamy-white turnips are a fleeting treat — they all too soon grow up, oy.  Pickle them whole or braise in a slightly sweet, buttery broth.  Spring onions are garlic are beginning to give way to leeks, and raabs are on their way out.

I saw one vendor with snap peas (the Organic Rednecks).  Beets in a rainbow of reds and yellows, from tiny to large, are all over the market.  You should retain the greens for beets and turnips; steam or saute them after washing, and dress with a little butter and garlic or with dashes of soy and rice vinegar and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Many vendors are selling tomatoes and peppers.  Unless you have a greenhouse, DO NOT give in to the temptation.  Every year I get closer and closer to the old timers who don’t plant tomatoes until mid-June.  Egads, who can wait that long!  But then I watch their tomatoes grow faster and better than mine.  So. Food for thought.

I also saw the first artichokes, new potatoes, many more eggs than last year, tender zucchini, napa cabbage, dried beans and grain, and flowers galore.  Those cherry blossoms are so gorgeous.  Too bad they’re so fragile.  SLO farm (who is selling the cherry blossoms) is also selling my absolutely favorite dark purple lilacs.

Enjoy the weekend and don’t forget to listen in to Food for Thought on KLCC (89.7) tomorrow, Sunday, April 29, at noon!  We bring you urban chickens and campus food pantries.

niblets: wearing o’ the green edition

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Plant at least one potato for good luck, tradition tells us.  Then again, tradition tells us it doesn’t snow in March.  Forecast for Monday: low 42 degrees, snow showers.  That doesn’t even make SENSE.  Sheesh.

So I will ignore it, just as I ignored hail hailing on my head on my way to class at least eight days a week this term.

For there are springy things a-springing, and great news for us.

Springfield, for example, has a building — with the help of the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) nonprofit organization — for a new indoor, year-round farmers market. Housed in a former church at 4th and A Street, the future market recently hosted an open house to show plans for Sprout!.  The celebration was fun, with music and raffle drawings.  The gentleman above in the hat presided, and there was a visit from Samba Ja and free nibbles from a range of eateries.  The place was packed.

Sprout! will have two anchor café spaces and seventeen indoor stalls to expand and augment the existing outdoor farmers market.  The indoor stalls will be about 10×6′, and will be placed along the windows and down the nave and transcepts, as pictured here:

“It seems small,” groused one attendee while looking at the plans.

“That’s because it is small,” replied the patient man from the architecture team.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.  The place is big enough for a commercial kitchen and event space, plus the outdoor area for food carts and market vendors.  And we need to keep in mind that the winter markets usually don’t host as many vendors as the summer ones do.

All in all, I’m thrilled this space is being made possible as a reuse and recycle for Springfield.  NEDCO is really doing fantastic work.  I do hope the ‘!’ falls off the Sprout!, though.  People are going to find that exhausting and gimmicky.  You can follow the progress of Sprout! and the Springfield farmers market on their Facebook page.

And it’s wild greens season.  If you are tired of the little western bittercress popping its seeds in your eye, eat it!  Perfectly edible. Or you can pick some stinging nettles or buy them already de-stung at one of our local markets.

For more ideas about how to prepare more green things, like stinging nettles, wild onions, and dandelions, listen to Food for Thought on KLCC tomorrow, Sunday, March 18, at noon. Join me and Ryan at noon, with special guests Heather Arndt Anderson of the fantastic food blog Voodoo & Sauce, Ben Jacobsen of Portland’s first local salt company, Jacobsen Salt Co., and our very own Izakaya Meiji‘s Quinn Brown.

culinaria eugenius in the bay area: meat and great

It’s useless to try to capture the food experience of the San Francisco Bay Area.  But we still try. I’ve been here for a long weekend, mixing research and fun.  Actually, no, just eating.  It’s such a delight to be in a city one knows well with likeminded friends.

Here’s one for the carnivores.

Roast Chicken with Bread Salad and Greens, Zuni Café, San Francisco.

Meat Cone 1, Ferry Building Farmers Market, San Francisco.  I had the pleasure of browsing the market with Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics, the wizard behind the preservation collective blog that you must check out if you are interested in putting up food.

Meat Cone 2, Ferry Building Farmers Market, San Francisco.

Local sardines, yum, Ferry Building Farmers Market, San Francisco.

Chickens hang out with jars of pickles, Ferry Building Farmers Market, San Francisco.