Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Not a truck-farm; a bike-farm this week
This past Saturday the Farmer's Market coincided with the Gallup's 89th Inter-Tribal Ceremonial parade in downtown Gallup. If you've never visited or lived in Gallup during ceremonial week, the event is really big deal with thousands and thousands of visitors in town.
Pickling Cucumbers, $3/lbs
The market manager Carole and Pete of Serendipity Farms gave me the heads up that usually Ceremonial weekend was an off-week for the market as road closures all around downtown make it hard for both customers and growers to get to the downtown walkway. Additionally, most people watching the parade are reluctant to buy produce and then carry it for hours in the midday heat before they reach home. Despite the warning, I and most other growers still braved the crowds and where set up much as any week.
Almost fully loaded at 70 lbs
The twist was how to get my dozen or so baskets of produce down there if the roads where closed starting at 6 am. I decided my trusty BOB trailer would suffice at transporting a much paired down harvest, and so I loaded it down with 70 lbs. of the more valuable by weight produce. Onions and beets stayed home. The select harvest included 30 lbs of zucchini, 20 lbs of pickling cucumbers, and 10 lbs. of rhubarb, leeks, shallots, mint and other herbs. My rolled-up table and bags surely brought the total weight up to around 80 lbs, and I gingerly made it south across the train tracks, and along the parade route to the market just as it opened at 8:30. Most regular customers stayed home as predicted, and I spent most of the day explaining what leeks are. Not the usual customer demographics. Yet with perseverance through the end of the parade and beyond (1:15), I finally came home with and empty trailer.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
35 lbs. of red, yellow, and whiteSaturday mornings are a busy time for me, starting now around 6 am (minus a minute or two for mint tea and some oatmeal). So, as the height of the harvest season arrives I think I'll have to start getting up earlier to cut, wash, and load the crops. And, none of this is helped by the fact that I have a penchant for staying out late on Friday nights.
The reason I'm starting to dwell on this is because even with help, I'm yet to really bundle any of my crop together, or make it on-time (8:30) to the market. It takes far more time to prepare the onions/scallions/shallots/beets/herbs, etc I've been selling into pre-packaged bundles, but I think pricing by the bundled (twist tied or rubber-banded together), is more comfortable for the customer, and I would probably make more money. Plus, each sale would be a little quicker during the really busy time of market morning (a line 5 deep isn't uncommon when I first arrive each morning). This has all prompted me to really start a harvest morning check-list (I forgot 3 crops again this past week; the over mature cilantro crop is now coriander seed), and start to experiment which crops I could harvest Friday night, without any detrimental effect to the fresh and local food. Mature onions, peppers and bundled fresh onions will be picked this Friday. Maybe zucchini too, but I'm still experimenting/researching if it changes the sugars/sweetness.
The tall rinsing table
Ouch. My aching back! That's unfortunately my overwhelming thought when I'm finally done rinsing the soil from the crops each morning. And I have a rather strong back; 15 years pedaling a bicycle a little faster than the average citizen and a habit of moving dirt has given me two strong 'back-straps' (friends: if ever stranded in the high snowy mountains w/o food, and I've just died, you have my blessing to eat that choice cut first. Ha. creepy. gross)
30 pounds of beets on the rinsing table (tilted)
But now I have a solution to the problem of bending over too far (low faucet), for too long (40 pounds of onions and beets take a while to wash), each Saturday morning. I built two 8' harvest tables.
Light in the beet's low tunnel
The first table tilts at 30 degrees with plastic coated wire mesh running along one side. This lets me tilt the table while rinsing the roots of plants without muddy water running into the edible green leaves. A cable and pulley system supporting one corner allows me to quickly change the table between flat and tilted from a single corner of the set-up. It's rather high at 36" off the deck. This height leaves plenty of room for 35 gallon barrels underneath to catch the spray used in the rinse. Shelves beneath will offer a shady spot for harvested crops.
The second table will have a lower work surface (32") and a sink plumbed with tap water and rain water through the two sides of the faucet. Both water types have their place in the garden--the anti-biotic (good and bad) properties of chlorine being the difference.
Together these tables should make the harvest and planting much easier on my aging body, allow a higher quality of kitchen-clean produce at my stand, and allow recycling of all the water used to clean the harvest. And, in non-tilted mode, the rinsing table doesn't spill your beer. cheers.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Gallup Farmers' MarketThe Gallup Farmers' Market is in full swing now being the fourth week of the season, and the variety and quantity of produce continues to grow. The biggest thing right now is more customers are needed (I still managed to sell-out by 10 am, and grossed $130; $40 from WIC checks w/o promised price increases over previous weeks:)! The reason I mention the dollar total is that it represents a lot of food; imagine filling a grocery cart with $130 from the produce department.
My neighbors shopping at my stand
New additions this week included leeks from my garden (along with the dozen or so other varieties of produce i've listed in previous weeks' posts- I forgot collard greens, cilantro, and something else.), the most desired being pickling cucumbers, Santa Fe Grande and jalapeno peppers. Giant rutabaga, eggs, and greens were also for sale from Janet Butlers farm, JB Ranch. She generally arrives between 9:30 and 10.
Sid Gillson, again had a bountiful supply of perfect summer squash and zucchini.
Pete and Jan Douglass continue to bring amazing rhubarb, radishes, and fresh greens among other crops and the folks from Fort Defiances' Sunrise School, again have the most amazing french breakfast radishes-- absolutely perfectly sweet half-cream, half crimson spicy delights.
The heavy monsoon rains should bring a bountiful harvest to all the growers this year, yet the much anticipated tomato crop is growing only in anticipation; several more weeks before the love apples ripen. However, large plants and smart season extending should result in Sid Gillson and I (Sid's shared many of his 'secrets' with me:) bringing in a huge crop when they're finally ready; customers needed!
This weeks' recipes shared by customers at the market and elsewhere were:
Tomatillo, onion, garlic, and chipotle pepper powder salsa. blend it 'til the consistency of guacuamole
New potatoes and sauteed leeks with bacon; a thick thunderstorm soup
Summer squash, anyway and with anything!!
(If you have any I haven't mentioned please list it in a comment)
Psssht. Blog readers exclusive: the summer rains and better/smarter husbandry have brought on the largest flush of shiitake mushrooms I've every grown. Available next week from under the table for those that ask only! I'll take everything left home for myself if needed.) $, TBD. Ha, priceless.