Marlinton Farmer's Market updates.
In the local, near-Alpine climate, families who grow their own food soon learn that Nature runs the show. For Old Timers, the local growing season began on Memorial Day and ended on Labor Day.
In the last decade or two Greenhouses and climate change expanded our growing season. For example, thanks to Tolly's new "hoop house," this year's Market will have fresh greens and specialty indoor crops from day one.
The freeze a couple of weeks ago means that most outdoor crops won't show up on vendors' tables until mid-June. But The Market won't be without produce. We rely on Carlos to fill the seasonal gap by bringing in quality fruits and vegetables.
Saturday's Market Opener (8:30 a.m.) in Marlinton is our biggest ever. "Music, Guns and Runners" begins at 10 a.m. when musicians Homer Hunter, Dave Buck and Wayne Walton play mountain music to nourish the soul. Look for more free "Music at The Market" concerts this summer.
At 11 a.m. we draw the names of the winners of the muzzleloaders and table runner. Folks don't need to be present to win, but they'll be sorry they missed the fun.
Helpful hint: We could still have a freeze, but now is the time to plant seedlings and potted plants for a good head start. But have covers ready in case of frost. Our vendors have plants well suited for food or landscape. And they have fresh-baked goodies, local jams, jellies and herbal teas to sweeten the days.
The grass is up and it's time to sharpen the blade, check the oil and crank up the old lawn mower. For some of us, mowing's a chore. For others, a pleasure. Regardless, we all get a sense of accomplishment when the job is well done.
Another thing mower jockeys have in common: a plot of land with sun, soil and water. In 2012, the Farmers Market wants more of our neighbors to turn a small patch of lawn into a garden plot -and into a few dollars.
Gardening is one of the few outdoor activities that doesn't cost a lot of money. With only a digging tool (I use a WW II bayonet), a few cents worth of seeds and a bit of determination you, your family and friends can eat fresh snap peas, lettuce or corn. With even less effort, you can grow your own pumpkin patch.
If that's not enough to get you planting, members of the Farmers Market will even arrange to sell your produce and make a bit of additional cash. Next Tuesday, March 20, the Farmers Market holds its only meeting on the subject. Everyone is invited!
We'll be answering your specific questions and giving out enough free seeds to get you started. In addition, Farmers Market members have given us a bunch of wonderful door prizes. There's no charge and everyone is invited to join in the fun Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., at the Parks and Recreation Building, 926 Fifth Avenue, Marlinton.
You, too, can be one of the Mountaineers who proudly says, "Here We Grow!"
Season ends Saturday
Thanks to our loyal customers, generous neighbors, talented musicians and supportive town and county officials, this has been the Farmers Market's best year ever!
This year, more than 40 new vendors brought a whole range of products and, once the growing season finally started, our selection of fresh produce was greater than any previous Market.
Saturday in Marlinton will be our last Market until we reopen next May. We'll have gourds galore. Come on over and stock up on local produce for the winter. Carlos is expected to bring lots of apples and Tolly should still have winter squash and fresh "hoop-house" kale.
Helpful hint: To store fresh produce requires different conditions for different crops. Apples and potatoes both want cool, dark, damp conditions. Unfortunately, apples give off a harmless gas that can cause potatoes to sprout prematurely, so apples should be not be stored near potatoes. Squash, pumpkins, onions and garlic want a dry place where they won't freeze.
This Saturday, Doug promises to bring another batch of fresh cider. This year's cider is sweet, tart and full of flavor.
Freezing cider is easy. Pour out enough to leave an inch or two of air in the plastic bottle to allow for expansion. Then, whenever you want, you can drink to everyone's good health. See you next year!
Farmers Market Report
The first frost brings a halt to the growing season in much of the valley and has us thinking abut a nice hot oven and a kitchen filled with the aroma of fresh baked bread and pastries.ﾠ Expect a range of tasty treats at this Saturday's Farmers Market.
As in past years, Doug will bring fresh-pressed apple cider.ﾠ Fresh cider isn't like commercial juice.ﾠ It's not heated or treated, and you can taste the difference.ﾠ Because fresh cider isn't pasteurized, it should not be given to pre-school kids or people with weak immune systems.
Commercial ciders are made from a handful of apple varieties.ﾠ That's why they all taste the same.ﾠ The secret to great fresh-pressed cider is to mix fruit from many different trees. ﾠ With more than 60 bushel of apples from a dozen or more varieties, Doug can mix and press a drink worth sipping.
At last week's Market, Corey and Paolo played an upbeat and relaxing mix of music. ﾠ For those visitors who requested live music at every Market - thanks for your support.ﾠ We're working on it.
Helpful hint:ﾠ tropical storms ruined many pumpkin and gourd fields.ﾠ Local growers - we are lucky to have had a decent crop.ﾠ But if you want a great jack-o-lantern, or some dramatic decorative gourds, it's best to buy them soon.