Time to start visiting your country farm stands….Summer brings out the best in what the farmers market and orchards have to offer……living in the country has its advantages when it comes to fresh – everything!
The blueberries and strawberries are best in mid-summer. When it comes to Apples and vegetables we have two local farms that we visit weekly. We also have several Farmers Markets in our area….but did you know…..not everything is as it seems. Farm stands are big business now a days. especially within city limits. When you shop at a farm stand remember that New England farmers aren’t planting citrus and Florida farmers are not in the apple orchard business. Don’t be surprised to see out-of-area produce at these area farm stands. Many farm stands are cooperatives with produce coming in from other states even countries. Always ask where the produce is from. Most of our local farm stands sell right from their farms so you know who is growing what. So why do farm stands take in others goods? for some, it’s simply an economical move; that is, they can’t make enough money just selling their own product. A bee keeper may not produce enough honey to keep customers content so he may purchase from another keeper that he knows and trusts.
Many stands now sell other products besides produce and fruit. Local cookbooks, homemade jams and baked goods, even kitchen wares. Many offer delivery and specialty orders on baked goods, etc. The stands have become known for their ambiance as well as their goods. I especially like stands of that nature. I love to spend time going through homemade jams and breads. The folks running the stand have so many tips or recipes for corn chowder or apple muffins.
Remember too, that Local doesn’t always mean Organic. To be certified an “Organic” farm takes a huge investment. Just for the paperwork can cost in upwards of $3,000.00. Most farms can’t justify those costs. If you do place a high premium on organic, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask about certification—or, at the very least, to inquire about the farm’s growing practices. And even if a farm stand doesn’t sell organic produce, you can at least feel comfortable in knowing you’ve reduced your carbon footprint by not shopping for items that have been shipped across the country by truck or rail. Remember, all you need is a windowsill and you could at least grow your own herbs…here is my Basil!
Shopping supermarkets has one distinct advantage over roadside stands—namely, refrigeration. By keeping certain items at the ideal temperatures and conditions—apples are best at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and 90% humidity, while lettuces and some other greens are best kept slightly moist, markets can ensure a degree of freshness and crispiness. At farm stands, “storage” often extends to no more than keeping those apples on display in a basket—with no temperature or humidity control. The result, say experts, is that the apple starts to lose quality within days of being picked.
Roadside shoppers might not always be getting the farm’s choicest offerings. Some restaurants are willing to pay to have first pick of produce and fruit. Farms build relationships with all sorts of “customers” such as produce wholesalers, restaurants, even other farms. They also bring their goods to large, urban farmers’ markets or sell them through community-supported agriculture programs, popularly known as CSAs. An example, here in NE Pennsylvania, most of our Christmas Tree farms haul their best trees to the city…as one of our locals, The Chrystal Tree Farm in Mahoning Valley, has been the chosen farm for the tree that graces the White House for several years now. So for those who aren’t lucky enough to own a Christmas Tree Farm, like we do, the best advise is to pick your tree early and put your name on it!
If your having a hard time in finding rural farm stands, or your traveling and would like to know where the stands are, visit….www.PickYourOwn.org…for a list of all the stands depending on your area. If you live in the Lancaster area of PA, there are so many farms and stands to visit. Here is a great site for info: http://reallancastercounty.com/markets-2/roadside-farm-markets/
Now you can really appreciate the local “Farm Stand”……so get going! The corn is calling your name!