first second week of July (yes, this is how long it’s taken me to write this post) and we just held our sixth annual farm tour here in sunny, humid and oppressively hot Orange County. Ordinarily we would be setting up at our local farmers’ market every Friday from Memorial Day through Halloween, but there is a special event in our town that is held each July 4th weekend, the preparations for which have forced our market’s closing for the last six years.
A typical farm summer doesn’t allow us the luxury of a day off, especially a market day, what with the electric bill, the phone bills, the fuel bills, etc, so we started holding a market for vendors who were displaced yet still wanted to set up with us inside our barn. The day has morphed into Farm Tour Friday.
While we put a lot of effort into the farm stand we set up inside the barn, the majority of our day is spent on the tractor carting groups of friendly farm fans around our 55-acre farm. Mom drives the tractor and I sit on the wagon surrounded by inquisitive adults and children. At one point a little 16-month old boy sat right down on my lap! He didn’t know me from anyone, yet felt comfortable enough to park his diapered butt onto my more-than-ample thigh.
As we made the trek around [seven times], I pointed out items of interest:
- a dozen or more swallows perched upon tomato stakes
- red and yellow tomatoes just starting to turn from green, then getting ‘infected’ with blossom end rot
- broccoli rabe and turnip greens that grew to a height of 4″ then bolted due to crazy amounts of rain, rendering them unsellable
- peppers of all colors and sizes growing on tiny rain-stunted plants
- potato beetle larvae (don’t Google it, it’ll give you the willies)
- the ‘natural’ deer repellent that we employ in the carrot patch, along with the propane-powered air cannon that replicates the sound of a shotgun and scares the bejesus out of Bambi and his kin
We stopped at the pea patch first and everyone hopped off the wagon. I explained all about the differences between sugar snap peas and shell peas then showed the little kids and farm newbs how to pick the proper pea. After this brief snack time, we meandered over to the carrot patch, where Mom and I placed a few buckets of water. I challenged a young farmer to ‘teach me how to pick carrots’ because, well, EVERYBODY KNOWS HOW!
It wasn’t as easy as they thought. Sometimes they just hung on for dear life!
The day was ridiculously hot and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky to diminish the blinding sun , but everyone had a wonderful time visiting and learning about how we grow their favorite veggies. Some folks even doubled up on tractor rides!
It’s important to us that consumers know where their food is coming from and we truly appreciate our customers taking the time to visit and making the investment in our farm and our community. Most importantly, I suppose, is the fact that more and more people are interested in choosing locally grown (meaning less than 100 miles from source) products. This is a good thing.
No, I stand corrected. This is a GREAT thing! It’s one more step toward making us more self-reliant, at least in terms of food. If you REALLY want that lychee, go right ahead and import it, but a handful of fresh local blueberries can’t be beat!
Since this IS a Field to Feast post, I should get on with a recipe, right?
Amy has been posting left and right over at Minimally Invasive and it’s making me feel terribly inadequate. I’m trying, really, I am! But, to be honest, this farming gig is hard and utterly exhausting. I find myself looking for the simplest things to prepare for mealtimes and whenever possible, I prepare the basis of meal #2 when I’m making meal #1.
This Dill and Garlic Scape dressing came together in a flash and is based on a recipe I saw over at Food52 a while back. I am killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, and combining garlic scapes and dill here. I’m hoping you all will forgive me for not being able to post more frequently during the growing season.
I prefer using this as a dip for fresh carrot sticks – Farmer Sonny grows the best carrots in the world, you know – but it is also fabulous as a sauce for fresh fish or as a salad dressing. I did notice that this dressing thinned out significantly after a day in the refrigerator (must be something wonky with the chemistry of buttermilk) so consider yourselves forewarned.
Fresh Dill and Garlic Scape Dip
1/2 c mayonnaise
2 T plain yogurt (fat free is fine)
2 t lemon juice
2 t honey
1/2 t salt
black pepper to taste
2 T minced garlic scapes or minced fresh garlic
1/4 c dill leaves, packed to measure then chopped
1 c buttermilk (fat free is ok, and be sure to shake the carton well)
Combine all ingredients in a jar (at least a pint size) and shake like crazy until lump-free and beautifully creamy. Use immediately or refrigerate for a day or two.