Friday, September 3, 2010

Farm Stand, Market, Co-op, and Farm: Make "Eat Local Week" Every Week

Farm Stand, market, co-op and farm--there are many places to get locally-grown food in Washington and no matter what your income, you can afford to eat from the local food basket. If you're looking for deals, one of the best places to find them is on any practically any highway or backroad where you'll find some kind of farm stand or U-pick offering.

We stopped at this farm stand on Highway 20 when we drove home from Cascadian Home Farm. I was so excited because I had wanted to make a recipe from Argentina that called for about 6 ears of fresh corn and at Corn Sheba, a pay as you go farm stand, corn was practically a steal. Most corn at farmers' markets sells for 50 to 75 cents an ear, so we bought 10 ears at Corn Sheba. There was a chef from a restaurant loading up a big bag while we picked out our few dollars worth of sweet corn.

You can also find "must-haves" and deals at the farmers' market. In Bellingham at the Wednesday farmers' market behind Village Books, I got the most beautiful peppers and tomatoes. Though these tend to be on the pricy side, I also found a 2 pound bag of organic rye berries for only $4.00. How many people can you feed with this much rye? I'm excited about the culinary possibilities of this and I'm already dreaming about the many whole grain salads I can make.

After delivering a presentation about my book and browsing the market I had dinner at the Calaphon Cafe where I had an opportunity to talk with Laura Ridenour of Sustainable Connections and Laura Steiger from the Community Food Co-op. Laura Steiger asked how I'd found the farms in my book and I was happy to say I'd found many of the farms through food co-ops from Bellingham to Ashland. In fact, that's how I found Bellewood Acres, a lovely apple farm near Lynden, where I'll be on September 11 on the Whatcom County Farm Tour.

I visited the Cordatta food co-op (the Community Food Co-op's newest store) before I left for home on Thursday. The store is light with lots of space inside and lots of great produce buys. It also has a wonderful salad bar and deli. I bought some amaranth seeds grown by Greenheart Gardens on Lopez Island---I'll plant these next spring.

Next stop was Whispering Winds Farm in Stanwood--a 20-acre organic vegetable farm wedged between dairy farms. It is owned and farmed by Charlene and Doug Byde who started this farm in 2004. "I couldn't believe it when we found this place. We always had a garden," Char told me. The last place they had was 5 acres. This farm is a dream come true for Char and Doug.

I love these American flags waving in the wind at the end of the row crops. And check out this stevia plant. Char told me she tucked some stevia into her CSA boxes this past week. I didn't even know stevia was a plant you could grow in the Northwest. Every farm proivides an opportunity to learn something new.

Char does most of the farming now because Doug has a full time job, but Doug is an expert at fixing farm machinery and he made this cool alpaca tractor that they use to move the alpacas from field to field. Char keeps the alpacas for the wool that she has cleaned and uses to make into sweaters.

Char said was a difficult spring and some of their crops like corn didn't get planted because it was so damp and cold. I got to sample some of their apples and I brought home some great produce that my kitchen assistant discovered the minute I set my bags down.

Let's take a picture, I'd said and he was happy to oblige.

But my assistant is smarter than he looks. He demands a promise of a carrot or a few beans in exchange for striking a pose these days. Every assistant has his price and as prices go this is pittance.

While Finn has his eyes fixed on the beans and carrots, I'm crazy about the lettuce. Is this the Ozzie and Harriet lettuce of my childhood only 10 times better? I love it. We both give thanks to Whispering Winds Farm--a real gem in Skagit Valley.


Anonymous said...

Nice post. Just a note that Sheba is a variety of sweet corn. So I think that farmstand was actually just advertising the corn not its name.

ddzeller said...

Hey thanks, I had no idea. The corn was so good, it's good to know what variety it was.