Saturday, August 25

Farm Stand Culture

 It's a beautiful thing.  Get picking through some ripe stuff, after the jump.
      I already mentioned our CSA in another post, but it is but a small part of farm stand glory. 

Farm stands have a surprisingly long shelf life here, during our fairly short growing season.  It’s hard to wait in the spring, when the warm weather first returns and soil particles cling to dewy green life . . . but come July, August, September, and through October, yum.  Local foods are obviously having a huge renaissance, following the trucking and GMO revolution, and it’s exciting when the local restaurants post on their facebook page that they have received a fresh batch of local fiddleheads, or tomatoes, or beets, or mustard greens.
     Part of the joy of our CSA has been trying foods that I wouldn’t have bought myself, like mustard greens.  Our CSA also has a fish share and a bread share, so you can get weekly fresh fish or bread from a nearby bakery.  Our CSA otherwise distributes veggies from their farm, but other CSAs also gather more neighboring suppliers for fruits, berries, meats, honey, cheese, eggs, maple syrup . . .  It’s a wonderful thing.  If you’re in NH, here’s a list of CSAs.  They are an investment and I highly recommend it; it's like getting a delicious, fresh present every week.
     Aside from CSAs, farm stands are great.  People here use them to meet people and get to know neighbors, you know, if you're into that kind of thing.  Personally, I wait in my car til people leave so I don't have to talk about the bumper brussel sprout crop, but different strokes.  Farm stands are also beautiful.  They are colorful.  They smell like dirty succulence.  The skin and flesh of bright vegetables is soft as polished marble and warm like sand on the beach.  WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE!?  They are exciting places to buy things like okra, heirloom tomatoes (yeah, they are pretentious, know what almost rhymes with pretentious? delicious. ok, not really, must have been a caprese salad induced delirium.), basil, garlic, beans . . . yum.  Now I'm just fantasizing about pesto.
     Another great thing about farm stands is that anyone can have one.  Obviously, there are commercial and family farms doing large scale production, but there are also tiny places that specialize in blueberries, or corn, or spinach.  Beyond the tiny places, there are people who stick up shacks in their yards with tin cans for money or put out tables of cucumbers and cut flowers with a fishbowl for change.  It's certainly an epitome of bucolic.  It's the same wondrous sense of joy and achievement which comes both from entering vegetables into the fair and from seeing what your neighbors tended to.  The blue ribbon squashes, the yellowest onions, and biggest pumpkins.

     Cheesy, I know, but there's something so charming about snapping that bean and knowing where it came from and that you picked it out with your own eyes and that a fellow citizen gave it patience and care.  About slicing through that tomato and catching wafts of its winey fragrance and wondering if the very same odor made a farmer save the seeds 40 years ago.  About the farm manager being so excited about the bok choy crop that you take home a bundle and cook something entirely new and delicious.  About the five bucks you left the fishbowl for the kid down the street because you took 10 cucumbers for sandwiches.  It's truly a rural romance.