Friday, March 2, 2012

Durham Farmers' Market Welcomes March

Happy March from the Durham Farmers' Market!  Winter is drawing to an end - the days are getting longer and the temperatures are getting warmer. One could argue that Winter never really started as it has been so mild during the past few months. It has been an interesting winter for farmers to grow crops. The good weather has meant that the crops have been abundant and plentiful. It has also meant that farmer's crops came in a lot earlier than they had planned.

Farmers take a lot of time to carefully plan out planting schedules to be able to get abundant weekly harvests. They often do successive plantings of their crops so that plants don't reach maturity all at once. The unexpected warm weather has made successive plantings reach maturity all at once. But as one farmer remarked a few weeks ago, "I just keep planting to try to keep up with the weather." 

Our mild winter led to an excellent brussels sprout crop. Brussels sprouts are notoriously difficult to grow in this area. They take a long time to mature and they do not thrive in hot weather and, like all vegetables, they don't grow well when it is very cold. In this area, we don't have a long drawn out fall, often we go directly from summer to winter. So, it is hard to start brussels sprouts seedlings because of the hot fall weather then, before they have a chance to mature, the temperature drops too low for them to able to thrive. Because it never stayed cold for very long this winter, the plants were able to make it to maturity and give us a great crop. Great news for brussels sprouts lovers, of course! Sadly, Brussels sprouts are nearly done for this season.

Well, enough about vegetables. This week there was an interesting piece on NPR about lard. Lard is the proccessed fat from a pig.Our farmers who raise pigs don't just bring bacon, sausages, roasts, loins and other cuts to Market and they also bring rendered lard. Lard is a by-product of processing pigs - pigs aren't just all bacon, as Homer Simpson believes. For a long time lard was a staple in the American diet and about 100 years ago lard fell out of favor.  Recently, cooks and bakers have come back to using lard as a preferred fat and you can too - every week there is lard available at the Market from sustainably raised pigs. Take a listen to this story about the fascinating story about the rise and fall of lard. 
Who Killed Lard? by Robert Smith, NPR

Fresh this Week....
Vegetables:   LEEKS, Asian Greens (Tatsoi, Mizuna), Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Cress (Creasy Greens), Cilantro, Collards, Dried Herbs, Frisee, Fennel, Green Onions,Green Garlic,  Gourds,  Jerusalem Artichokes,  Mustard Greens, Kale,  Lettuce, Onions, Pumpkins, Rhubarb, Radishes, Salad Mix, Shiitake Mushrooms  (fresh & dried), Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Greenhouse Grown Tomatoes, Turnips, Turnip Greens,
Meats:  Beef, Bison, Chicken, Duck, Goat/Chevon, Lamb, Pork.  Look for whole cuts, sausages, hot dogs, jerky, liver pate and more!
Flowers & Plants:  Daffodils, Tulips, Anemones, Icelandic Poppies
And: Honey, Pecans, Chicken and Duck Eggs, Flour, Cornmeal, Wines, Fresh and Aged Goats and Cows Milk Cheeses, Baked Goods - Pies, Breads, Cookies, Pastries, Gluten Free Items, etc; Beer, Wine, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Preserves
Crafts: Pottery, Jewelry, Gourd Birdhouses, Woodwork, Photographs, Hand-dyed Clothing and other items, Handmade Clothing, Soaps and much more...

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