bainbridge island farmers market

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Farmers shouldn’t put things off. You do that and the next thing you know the place has gone all to hell–the garlic’s rotting in the beds, the hens have gone broody, or the blog has gone blank for a couple of months. Okay, we’re guilty of the latter, and we’re sorry.  There’s certainly been lots to report on since that last post back in April but we’ve just been too busy, too lazy–or a bit of both–to do it.

But we’re back at it now and we promise we’ll do better in the future. Here’s a quick update.

Katt & Adam

The Apprenti–In addition to Hiram and Tess, who showed up at the start of the apprentice period in early March (seems so long ago now) our other two apprentices, Adam Favaloro and Katt Tolman, arrived from New Orleans, as advertised, at the end of March.

 Katt and Adam are both Vassar grads and both have done a bit of farm work in the past–he on a goat farm last summer, she on a tree farm and a couple of shorter gigs on vegetable farms.

Dinah

They brought along Dinah, their spunky dog, who is about the size of our largest cat, Obie.  Dinah, Obie and Selmo, the farm’s other cat, seem to have reached a turf accomodation, something they never really worked out with Mongo, last year’s visiting dog. When Dinah ventured too close to the kitchen door of the farmhouse–cat turf–Selmo scratched her and sent her howling back down to the yurt meadow, where she holds sway. After that, the boundaries pretty much aligned themselves and everyone settled down.

As for the apprentices–they seem to have worked things out pretty well too and have become an excellent crew. They’ll be terrific on their own farms some day.

Katt & Tess

Hiram

Hiram has already amply demonstrated his kitchen skills–a dozen years working in various spots down in Bend, Ore. under his, ahem, belt. He’s this year’s cooler captain–a really critical job requiring good organization skills under pressure.  Tess is a source of boundless energy and good spirits. She was walking around in a tee shirt and bare feet when the temperature hit 50 degrees in April–probably reminded her of summer weather back home in New Hampshire.

The Weather–Ah yes, the weather. We broke a lot of records this spring, it was colder and  wetter than ever before, according to our favorite meteorologist, UW’s Cliff Mass. Cliff’s own misery measurement, the “Barbecue Index,” registered the wettest, coldest spring on record, with just five days over 60 degrees by June. We didn’t need a doctorate in meteorology to tell that, nature’s voice spoke louder–our first lettuce heads and first sweet turnips arrived weeks later than usual this year; the bouquets we are taking to the Bainbridge Island Farmers Market were lilac-less well into May–a true loss–and we’re still waiting for much of our  lavender to bloom in mid-July.

Cliff promised better days–and we did have a couple of beauties earlier this month–but now he’s saying it is going to be June gloom right through July. Another Summer That Never Was?

Number 26

New Arrivals–We’ve got another flock of tiny turkeys scampering around the fowl pasture  down at the farm gate–Chocolate’s back on the job. No sheep this year, but we do have a trio of new neighbors–three young black steers who are summering next door on Don Stevens’ pasture. They go by Number 26″,  “Number 27” and “Number 28”–their ear tags–and they seem to enjoy staring through the fence at the chickens summering in the upper run.

Other Visitors–Tess’s dad stayed the night back in March when dad and daughter climbed out their car after seven straight days of driving from New Hampshire to the left coast. Both her folks will be back visiting later this month. Adam’s mom stayed for a week, baking up a storm for everyone. Katt’s dad and sis will be here soon and Hiram’s folks have visited twice.  

We spent three weeks hosting Pierre Dambricourte, a 15-year-old visitor from France who charmed everyone and earned his chops working hard alongside the local farm crew. That’s Pierre in the truck bed (below) with Rebecca and Tess. He’s a fifth-generation farmer and this was his first visit to the U.S. The first place he wanted to visit was the local MacDonald’s, horrifying the farm’s food purists. But had become a farm-food fan by the time he left–heading back home to harvest wheat on his family’s farm, 22 hours a day for two weeks. We hope to see Pierre back soon.

Pierre and the Persephone farmers

So, in mid-July, the story line is that we are deeply into a new season–a little chillier, a bit damper than we’d like but hip deep in produce and working hard. One last bit of info–Rebecca planted a couple of fledgling giant pumpkins under the big tree near the salad garden back in May. We’re still waiting for her to remove their row covers and let them see the sun. Will they break last year’s record? Will they grow huge on a sour milk diet? Will there be any sun?

We’ll keep you posted as the season unfolds.

Persephone

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The Season, that is, this blog, began with the arrival of the interns March 1. But the real opening day comes this Saturday with the start of the Bainbridge Island Farmers Market.

It’s a big deal. The local papers will run articles and pictures and signs go up everywhere. Two decades ago, when the market was new, it was just a collection of folks in a parking lot selling a few vegetables off card tables. Now, with four rows of tents offering everything from fava beans to felted hats, and professional musicians playing in the background, the market is a much-anticipated weekly event, a local agora, and a staple of local real estate pitches.

Between now and Saturday, Persephone Farm will be going flat out—everyone up at dawn harvesting the salad, rhubarb, beets, braising greens, chard, kale and other vegetables that will fill our market stand. We’re still a week or two away from spinach and radishes, but there are eggs to be washed, salad weighed, broccoli trimmed. And Sunny, the farm’s 38-year-old, canary yellow, Chevy pickup, will get a fresh supply of motor oil and have his bed swept out for the occasion.

Sunny

We don’t usually let Sunny off the farm—he’s a bit rusty, wheezy and cranky after nearly four decades of hard work, as might be said of us all. But this Saturday morning, and every Saturday morning for the next seven months, Sunny will lead the 16-mile parade from the farm to the market. His truck bed will be piled high with table tops, plant stands, E-Z Ups, bins of vegetables, and the rest of the market paraphernalia. We may even trim the grass growing out of his tailgate to make him a bit more presentable. Rebecca will follow with her van stuffed with flower bouquets. And behind her will come the interns, spruced up in their market finest. When they are done setting things up it will look something like this:

In a sense, the opening of the market establishes the pace that will gradually transform the remainder of the season’s days. Up to now, the focus has been on tilling beds, moving new starts out into the fields, introducing the chicks to the henhouse and generally adding to the farm’s inventory.

From now on, reaping will overtake sowing. As the season moves along, Thursdays and Fridays will become harvest days for the market. When our CSA begins in June, Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be given over to bringing in the produce and flowers that will fill our 70 subscriber boxes. Mondays, the farmers will be in the salad garden at dawn, picking for our restaurant customers. By summer, this production pace will be running at full throttle, with not a moment to waste.

Unless, of course, it gets really warm. Then we drop everything and head for the beach.

No time to think about that now, though. The leeks need to be trimmed and the beets want washing. See you Saturday, and bon appetit.

Persephone

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