Posts Tagged ‘Farmers Markets’
AgriNews field editor Martha Blum
The National Food MarketMaker Program is a virtual supply chain to help farmers sell their products at a premium price.
“Our goal is to get enough people to sign up so it becomes a community where trade can take place,” explained Darlene Knipe, University of Illinois marketing and business development specialist.
“I’ve been working on this project for 15 years with my husband, Rich Knipe,” said the specialist, who spoke at the Women in Agriculture event. “MarketMaker is an electronic platform to connect farmers with products to markets.”
The project was started in the Quad Cities.
“Our very first partner was Iowa State in 2005, and ever since we’ve been adding states,” Knipe reported. “This has grown well beyond my wildest dreams. I think we had 12 farmers when we launched.”
Now there are 600,000 business profiles in the system, and MarketMaker has expanded to 20 states.
“Some of them are self-registered, and some are information we purchased,” Knipe noted. “Every farmer in our system is self-registered because there are no yellow pages for farmers.”
It is free to register on MarketMaker. To read more go to http://agrinews-pubs.com/Content/Default/Homepage-Rotating-Story/Article/MarketMaker-designed-to-help-farmers-find-markets/-3/23/6766
AFBF Rural Development Conference Features Successful State Programs
The American Farm Bureau Federation recently hosted its Rural Development Conference for state Farm Bureau staff and leaders to learn about successful community development initiatives that can be adopted by state and county Farm Bureaus nationwide.
The meeting, held in cooperation with the Kentucky and Indiana Farm Bureaus, took place at the Kentucky Farm Bureau office in Louisville, KY. More than 65 people from 20 state Farm Bureaus participated.
Two of the sessions featured presentations from the states on successful community building initiatives they and county Farm Bureaus have undertaken. These community strengthening projects increase Farm Bureau’s visibility and relevancy to the broader (non-ag) community.
The 16 presentations included topics on local food, agritourism, health, community building and beginning farmer initiatives.
Indiana Farm Bureau last year hosted a series of boot camps for farmers’ market managers to inform them about liability issues, vendor recruitment and tips on market management to keep it running smoothly. Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Certified Roadside Market Program is for farm-oriented markets with a permanent structure that focus on the sale of locally grown products or agritourism, host activities to educate consumers about agriculture or the role of agriculture in Kentucky.
Tennessee Fresh connects consumers to information about where their food comes from, how it was grown and who produced it, while retail agriculture sales support the local economy.
The New Hampshire Buy Local and NHMade programs also focus on connecting the consumer directly to the producer by encouraging reinvesting one’s purchasing power within the community and state.
Virginia Farm Bureau, through its Virginia FAIRS Cooperative Development Center, hosts regional workshops to offer technical assistance for applications for USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant and Rural Energy for America Program.
Jo Davies County Farm Bureau in Illinois explained its collaboration with agriculture, tourism and government stakeholders to promote agritourism. The program is a strategic opportunity to provide agricultural education while driving economic development.
North Carolina Farm Bureau’s Healthy Living for a Lifetime initiative, a mobile health clinic, offers free screenings such as blood pressure, body mass index, bone density measurements, cholesterol and glucose.
Through Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 400 M*A*S*H (Medical Application of Science for Health) camp, high school students spend 2 weeks during the summer learning about health care careers. They shadow such diverse medical activities as open-heart surgery, labor and delivery, speech therapy, dentistry, anesthesiology, embalming, biomechatronics (fabrication of prostheses) and emergency response.
Illinois’ Farm Bureau’s Rural Nurse Practitioner Scholarship Program offers financial assistance to nursing students to encourage them to meet the needs of primary care in rural Illinois.
Iowa Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa Business Success Seminars are one-day sessions that encourage entrepreneurs to explore the key elements of developing successful business models, provoke strategic thinking and clarify a business’ road to success, as well as how to find appropriate funding and talent.
Florida’s Strong Farms, Strong Communities is a new initiative by which Farm Bureau members help strengthen small towns and urban areas by participating in community events, supporting youth activities and highlighting agriculture to illustrate what a vital role it plays in Florida’s economic success.
Michigan has renamed their Department of Agriculture Rural Development to focus on new agricultural and community economic opportunities. Michigan Farm Bureau is assisting them with the specifics of what that new mission will entail. Some ideas may include promoting business development and economic gardening, and establishing farm markets at Park-N-Rides and at state park campgrounds.
Tillamook County (Oregon) Farm Bureau hosted a Community Conversation a year ago for residents to inventory their community’s resources and develop shared goals for what they want their community to look like in the future. The committees formed that January evening address four critical issues: roads, youth activities, downtown revitalization and the need for a slaughter and rendering plant. The committees are still meeting and progressing with those projects.
Louisiana Farm Bureau is partnering with the Louisiana State University’s AgCenter on the Louisiana Young Ag Producers (LaYAPP) program to introduce high school juniors and seniors to careers in food and fiber production and to encourage them to consider agriculture as a career. LaYAPP is a one-year, intensive classroom and hands-on, mentor-based experience to address the trend of the rising average age of farmers and ranchers.
Farm Bureau’s focus on and involvement in projects to improve the quality of life where our members live and work fulfills our mission to “enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities.”
Father’s Day is a big grilling day; I guess there’s just something about it that appeals to our masculine instincts. I plan on staying around the house, spending time with the family and fire up my grill for some great local grass fed steaks. The variety of produce in the farmers markets is great right now also, in central Kentucky we are in a transitional period with both spring and early summer produce at the market.
This week I even found great tasting, local, heirloom tomatoes! Around here tomatoes don’t come in around here until July but Mr. Heirloom Tomato himself, Bill Best from Berea, KY is growing some varieties in a “high tunnel” this year, which is basically an unheated greenhouse where the plants are grown in the ground. He gets about a month jump on the season this way.
We also still have strawberries and asparagus which is really late for them but I’m thankful nonetheless, my boys will almost eat their weight in strawberries if allowed. There are also lots of lettuces, spring onions, greens of all description including one of my favorites Rainbow Swiss Chard.
Like any green you can braise chard really quickly and spike it with some vinegar, but what I like to do is make rice pilaf with it. You pull the leaves from the stems and use the stems as you would celery with spring onions and carrots cooking them in a little olive oil. Add you rice and stock and season, then just place the chopped chard leaves on top and let them steam as the rice cooks. When it is done, just stir in the leaves and enjoy. Those deep green leaves have lots of vitamins and a pilaf is a great way to incorporate them into something easy to make. Chard stems have a very mild flavor and you can use them in place of celery in lots of dishes, don’t throw them away!
Rainbow Chard Rice Pilaf
1 small bunch of rainbow chard, leaves and stems separated and chopped
2 small early onions, chopped
1 bunch small carrots, chopped
1 cup rice, regular or basmati
2 cups water or chicken stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a sauce pan place the olive oil, chard stems, onion and carrot and lightly sauté until the onions are clear.
Add the rice and stir to coat all the kernels with oil.
Add the water or stock, salt, stir well and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat, add the chopped chard leaves, cover the pot and allow to simmer 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, allow to stand 5 minutes, stir the chard leaves into the rice and enjoy
The most common mistake people make cooking rice is to stir it. After it comes to a boil and you get it covered and simmering, do not stir it again. It will take exactly 20 minutes to cook and be perfect if you let it be.
This is the time of year when the local farms are harvesting their first batch of chickens, and they are absolutely fabulous. They’ve been outside enjoying the spring weather just like us, and eating the really tender early grasses that are sweet, and the early tender bugs. While eating bugs doesn’t sound very appetizing to most, I’m guessing the chickens would disagree. It is a great source of protein for them and it helps to keep the bug population down too.
The way factory chickens are raised is really disgusting, and a major source of water pollution. Not only that, but eating the chckens can be dangerous too. I just read an article on how researchers in Arkansas found that they could greatly reduce E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella in chicken breast meat by infusing combinations of organic acids — acetic, citric, lactic, malic and tartaric — into the meat. It is coming down to a choice of the risk of food poisoning or having chemicals in your food with many things for sale at food retailers.
I would rather have local free range chicken, but a lot of people balk at the price of chickens in the farmers markets. They are more expensive compared to the commodity chickens but not compared to what they actually cost to raise and process for the farmers, they don’t make a lot of profit on them.
The key is making a chicken and your money go the farthest. Two people should be able to eat well at least four times from a chicken; a family of four could eat at least twice. I like to roast a whole chicken or put it on the rotisserie, then pull it apart and slice up the meat. If you serve it already sliced you will take less on your plate than just putting a whole piece on there. If you put a whole piece of chicken or a whole steak on my plate, I’m going to eat it all; I have no willpower for good food.
This is in keeping with the Michael Pollan mantra of “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”, and a little chicken with a lot of veggie side dishes on your plate is the way to go, it is very satisfying.
You may have enough left to have a second meal either as leftovers, a stir fry, chicken salad and then with the bones and scraps make a great chicken stock that can be the base for a great soup with tons of veggies. That is really making your local food dollar stretch.
In a stock pot place all the bones & skin of a leftover chicken and:
2 carrots and 2 celery rib cut into ½” sections
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
Cover with water and bring to a boil, skim off any foam then turn down to a simmer
½ cup white wine (optional)
1 bay leaf
A few whole peppercorns
Fresh herbs (stem and all) of your choice
Simmer for 2 hours and strain for use
I’m trying to fill in my herb garden, I lost a few plants due to the drought last year and the ice storm this winter we had here in Kentucky. There are a lot of herb plants for sale right now at the markets, an incredible variety too. Buying your plants from local growers makes sense beyond supporting local producers; the plants will already be acclimated to your climate and have a better start.
Herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow. They are basically cultivated weeds and will do well in almost any soil. Like weeds, they can thrive in harsh conditions and are very forgiving, just give them full sun and water when they need it. Herbs can really make the food you cook come alive and having an herb garden is one of the best ways to become a better cook. It is almost impossible to use too much when cooking, unlike using dried herbs where a little can go a long way. Homemade pesto from basil in your own garden can’t be beat.
I always have a “lemon-herb” section in my herb garden that includes Lemon Balm, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Verbena & Lemon Basil. I like to try various combinations of them or even all together on different things for the grill or my lemon-herb vinaigrette that uses all of them with plain olive oil and white vinegar. By using regular olive oil, not extra virgin, and white vinegar the base is very mild and that lets the flavors of the herbs really come through. It makes a great marinade, a salad dressing on its own or even a sauce for something else.
In a blender place:
¼ Cup white vinegar
½ Cup regular olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons roughly chopped onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few grinds of black pepper
A handful of fresh herbs, all lemon scented or any you like ~1/2 a packed cup
Blend until smooth
You can also do herbs in pots and porch planters for those folks without a lot of yard space or in apartments. I saw several very nice herb planters already made up in one of our markets or you can buy the plants and put one together in any interesting container. I have seen planters made from old wheelbarrows, wash tubs, watering troughs, and of course here in Kentucky, used half whiskey barrels. Take a look around your house or town, you might find something really neat.