This weekend we had friends up to our house for brunch and snowshoeing. When we sat down to create the menu, I said to my husband I want to make it a 100 mile brunch. This meant finding recipes that matched the foods that are readily available at our farmers’ market. For example, we love our white chili crockpot recipe but most of the ingredients are not 100 mile ingredients. Instead, we chose a Cooking Light Fall minestrone recipe and tweaked it a bit. It called for green beans which are not available in our area in the middle of winter. However, the bulk of the recipe: butternut squash, kale, carrots, onion, and garlic are easily found at our local winter market. It also called for orzo and I substituted barley. Partly because I had some in the pantry and partly because I love barley in a soup and it adds fiber. To that we made a requisite breakfast stable in our house; egg pie and some bruschetta toasts. The egg pie did have non 100 mile turkey sausage and cheese and I used a store bought crust. But the eggs were local. The bruschetta bread was from Rock Hill bakery made in Glens Falls and purchased with all the veggies at the farmers’ market. The soup was all 100 mile ingredients except for the stock and the white beans. The egg pie was 1/3 100 mile and the bruschetta was 100 mile except for the olive oil and herbs. Success! I hit my goal of an at least 50% 100 mile brunch! The bonus: it was delicious and healthy!
Not everyone has access to a farmers’ market and not all farmers currently have access to customers by way of a market. I won’t say it is easy everywhere to get a market going in your area, but I was a co-founding member of one so I’ll share my experience. First, you need farmers looking to sell. There is a whole zoning and taxation piece to this that is important. I once had a friend bemoan the lameness of her local farmers’ market as though it was somehow the fault of the farmers. I quickly corrected her. If you want locally grown and products, then you need to get involved and make sure agriculture and agricultural land and the culture of farming is protected and valued by your elected officials. In that particular area, it is not. But back to the farm market. So you find some farmers looking to sell direct to customers and at the same time you drum up interest in buying local and develop a customer base. Then, you find a good spot for a market and get approval from your municipality to run a market there. That procedure will vary from place to place but should be easy enough to find out at your local municipality office. It’s good to put together a board for your market because there are some different parts that require different skill sets. You will need a marketing person. You will need a site coordination person. It’s some work to get a market going but I believe it’s well worth the effort.