The most exciting part my week so far was a quick trip to a farmer's market. First trip of the season. And, this probably sounds sad to some, but I'd been looking forward to it for weeks.
I started researching what farmer's markets were around me. I knew there was one in Quincy, but it runs on an afternoon when I'm generally at work 10 miles away, and another one in Copley Square, which requires a long bus ride. After a little searching, turns out, there are a ton of other options. Most exciting of all, there was one a quarter mile from my office. Even better, it's run by kids. So cool! It's called The Food Project, and it's a youth development program. They have a garden right in Roxbury, right down the street from where I work, and they have another bigger farm out in Lincoln. The first day, they had a ton of salad greens:
I got a huge bag of spinach for $2. Crazy deal. I also got some raw honey for $3. The young guy helping out said, "I knew you were going to buy honey." Guess, I'm the honey buying type. Then he excitedly told me it tasted like cucumbers. Sounded intriguing. When I tasted a bit, I didn't detect any cucumber, but maybe his palate was more refined than mine. He gave me some glass pebbles when I left, and told me to put them by my flowers.
I have a small garden going on the patio. I really shouldn't have planted anything this year, because I'm going to be gone a lot this summer and won't be able to water it. I'm afraid of what will happen. But I couldn't make through a year without any green in our home. Before our plans to move back to the Midwest changed, I had my eye on a small farmhouse with a nice garden out back. I'm still mourning that little daydream. Until that day comes, this will have to do.
When I first went to Washington, D.C., I remember driving by an urban gardening project, and I thought it was the coolest thing, that if I lived in a city someday I'd want to do that. Don't know what happened to the time, because I never have. Maybe someday. When I was in Chicago, I heard about LaDonna Redmond, who is a big advocate for urban agriculture in Chicago. She's working with people to try to transform urban neighborhoods that lack healthy food options, since big chains won't locate in poor neighborhoods and convenience stores abound. When she started farming in Austin, she found that a lot of the older African-American residents had vast, untapped knowledge about gardening from their childhoods growing up in the South. I love that story, the power of untapped potential to solve problems. In Kalamazoo, residents on the Northside fought for years to get a grocery store to locate in the neighborhood. It's been a success. I think these are some of the most exciting grassroots movements to take hold in the last ten years.
Turns out, there's a bunch of other farmer's markets around me, in Milton, the South End, South Boston. Pretty much everywhere. When I was out at Long Island, I noticed a garden. Turns out it's a job training program for the homeless, called Serving Ourselves, and they sell some of their produce at the Quincy Farmer's Market. There's even an organic farm in Cohasset I didn't know about. The markets are all on different days and start up at different times, so it takes a little planning to go regularly but it's definitely worth it. The food tastes so much fresher than grocery store produce, shipped from California or wherever, and the money you spend stays local. The USDA has a very good website for finding farmer's markets in your state.
Looking forward to seeing what else they have for sale the rest of the season.