Summer’s been good to me so far; although not to many farmers. Not only do crops struggle in the heat and dry conditions, but animals do too. And while humans can just crank the AC (and then curse the utility bill), turn on the fan, or take a cold shower, these aren’t options for farm animals. And farms without irrigation systems may result in yield loss and labor challenges — all thanks to the hot, dry weather. Farmers are working hard to ensure this summer’s bounty meets consumer demand.
And when the first rain in two weeks finally doused the area this past weekend (rejoice!), I was able to show my appreciation by visiting a couple of local farmers’ markets. On a damp Saturday in the early-afternoon hour, I caught the tail-end of the Lansdale Farmers’ Market, situated in a parking lot across from the train station I frequent each weekday morning to hitch a ride into the city. I arrived 10 minutes to close and only two vendors remained, packing what looked like a fair amount of unsold items into their trucks. I made a beeline for a fresh loaf of whole wheat bread from Tabora Farm and a couple of tomatoes from Windy Springs Farm so I could make my go-to quick lunch or dinner – grilled cheese with tomato. My tomato plant, while revived after a 30 day sojourn with my parents during our move and now resting comfortably in our own backyard, has begun to flower, but no fruit as of yet.
The clouds lifted Sunday morning and the fresh sunshine greeted me as I stepped out the door for the Skippack Farmers’ Market. J and I fell in love with the quaint, artsy town of Skippack when we were house-hunting, and when we settled about 10 minutes away, we were excited by the prospect of visiting the town for dinner or Saturday brunch. Prior to our move, I began volunteering for the market by providing recipes for the market’s weekly newsletter and gathering interest through social media (follow the market on Twitter!). After introducing myself to the vendors, I picked up some apricots and blackberries from Stauffer’s Fruit Farm, sweet corn and cantaloupe from Bauder Farms, and I couldn’t pass up the homemade cupcakes at ICED By Betsy — because some nights I just can’t go to bed unless I’ve had something sweet and a bit decadent.
My CSA from Landisdale Farms has been providing lots of onions, zucchini, chard, and different types of lettuce. While it’s certainly a good thing my refrigerator never empties of greens, I wish fruit was a bit more plentiful in the weekly share — although the peaches, plums, and this week, apricots, have been awesome. Comparatively, I enjoyed the variety that Greensgrow Farms provided in their CSA; in addition to produce, I received cheese, a meat/protein, and oftentimes, milk. So while the produce-only CSA took some getting used to, I certainly can’t say that I’m not getting enough vegetables in my diet. And since recent research suggests that conventionally-grown produce contains less nutrients now than 30 years ago, it’s more important than ever to know your food, know how it’s grown, and support those working every day – in this hot weather – to help feed our families while providing the most nutritious food possible.