I got a chance to get some updates on folks I have introduced in earlier posts, and I wanted to share them. I guess this is the first weave of the woven stories that I promised. It's a short update, but an update nonetheless.
I'd been away from the market for over a month for a variety of reasons, but the talk of all the stalls Sunday was no different than that in the office cubbie: stinkbugs. and the discussion no less animated. All of the local farmers have been hurt by this year's stinkbug invasion. Unlike many other bugs attack on the fruits of your labor, this one is rather insidious. The bugs poke a tiny hole into things like tomatoes to feed, as I understand it. So the fruit looks fine on the vine. When you take it off, that open wound starts to rot quickly and you'll get some oozing sometimes. Organically the way they are dealing with these beasts is pick them off and squish them. Tom of Nevr-Dun finds their smell the smell of victory (with the number flying around, I'd call it a small victory), and at least one of his clients thinks the smell is "woodsy". Most other people think they plain stink. If you did want to spray them, there doesn't appear to be much option there. I haven't looked into this in great depth, but Karen of Serpent Ridge Winery, who I introduced here, noted that they are still waiting guidance from the USDA on handling the bugs. For their part, luckily, they have seen a lot of bugs, but don't feel their crop has been impacted.
The market on Saturday yielded the first bag of lettuce for the Fall season (for me, at least). It's amazing how good a fresh salad can taste. While we have lots of variants on salad during the Summer with various fresh produce, lettuce hasn't been available locally since June. So, no salads for us since June. The challenge of eating this way tests our creativity and ability to work with what we have. No cold turkey here, I've been slowly increasing our dependency on local produce and reducing our reliance on the supermarket over a couple of years. This Summer is probably the first three month period where not a single item, I think, was bought from the store. So, the first salad of the season, with our own cucumber, our friend's tomatoes, radishes and peppers from the market, and our own lemon-infused vinegar, was amazing. But, I digress....
Everyone has definitely struggled with the stinkbugs, and the drought is no less a problem. The farmer's I talk to use have a wide range of irrigation philosophies. Some are using water from their city water supply, some rely only on rain barrels, and some rely on nature. The latter were hit badly this year. Shawn and Josie (introduced here) have been using their water supply to keep their acre plus of property for Truffula Seed Produce going. This does mean very creative water hauling, as the property is divided across a road and their is no water on the one side. They have access to an old, deep well and would like to get that going so that they can rely on the rain more. But that requires investment in a pump and various other things; funds that they don't have now. Still, they've done pretty well this year and are sticking in for another. This was their first year at the market, and they had rented one property to grow on. In the coming months, they are hoping to find a second property, an acre, so that they can expand their farm next year and provide a CSA, as well as the Westminster Market. As though they had nothing else to do, Shawn is starting a graduate program at Goddard College in Vermont. It's an interdisciplinary program in sustainable farming, looking at the practicalities of sustainable, local, organic farming practices on scale. He'll do most of his work here, while he's still working their land. Josie is busy too with a bunch of canning. I've done some this year, but she love canning, as she described in this post. Because of her background in photography, her posts always have these fabulous photos and layout. She also has a posts on the beans that I described, but again, her photos are fabulous. Otherwise, their Fall crops are coming along. They had some issues with the first set of seeds not germinating fully, but now everything is coming along. So they'll be in the market until November.
Serpent Ridge is now at the new wine season. They are picking their reds this Saturday and received shipment of the juice from the grapes they can't grow themselves over the last few weeks. Later in the month is pressing. I hope to be present for that and bring back tales of that adventure.