What's Stirring, Late August, 2016
Really, nothing should be stirring in this superhuman heat. But plants keep growing, even if they are stressed, and their human friends keep on harvesting/weeding/watering/marketing. Farming at this moment might be defined, in part, as "surviving in inhumane conditions." Some observations and events:
1. Mark and Velvet Henkle of Henkle's Herbs & Heirlooms in Nicholasville added an additional hoop house to their collection of season extension facilities this year. Hoop houses, also known as high tunnels, make it possible for Mark and Velvet to keep their extraordinary peppers, tomatoes and herbs producing during more months of each year. I learned about the new hoop house at today's Lexington Farmers Market when my eyes went wide at Velvet and Mark's late summer svelte-ness: both have simply worked so many hours, in enough heat, to use up dozens of pounds of stored energy.
Farmers=my heroes, especially the farmers who think way into the future, building soil and caring for their land, water and air in ways that benefit all of us.
2. Conversations are the second main point of farmers' markets. In an excellent conversation this morning with Dr. Greg Davis, host of the popular, useful Dr. Greg Davis on Medicine on our vital NPR-affiliate, WUKY, I learned about someone who works creatively to engage farmers in caring for their own health and their families' wellbeing. Last week Dr. Davis featured Professor Deborah Reed, Ph.D., of the University of Kentucky College of Nursing, who has developed a readers' theater that farmers put on for each other at a dinner event devoted to improving farmers' health and safety. There are many aha moments in the short 5.5 minute podcast and accompanying story, but how about this argument for protection from sun?
"Farmers are missing the tops of their ears because they wear baseball caps instead of wide-brim straw hats like we all used to do."
3. Those of us who live in the Commonwealth can all live in an agricultural paradise called Kentucky—if we support our farms and farmers properly. CSA memberships (purchasing an upfront share of a farm's upcoming season's harvest) may help food-producing farms the most. (Search Local Harvest for CSAs near you.) Other ways to make a difference with our dollars: shop at farmers' markets and roadside stands. Ask your local groceries to do the extra work of bringing locally grown foods into their stores. Pay what farmers ask; they know what it costs to produce their food.
Aaaaaand --- how about going to this delicious upcoming Fayette County Farm Bureau Farm to Table dinner on September 9? It's on a farm—Walnut Lawn Farm on Military Pike in Fayette County. This dinner supports Bluegrass Double Dollars, which makes healthy, locally grown food affordable for people who receive SNAP benefits (food stamps), improving their health and boosting local farm income at the same time.
Lots of details here, from the event page:
We are excited to announce the First Annual Fayette County Farm Bureau Field to Table Dinner on September 9th at Walnut Lawn Farm in Lexington, KY! This four course family style meal will be created and served by the culinary talents of The Sage Rabbit and Sullivan University. Each dish will celebrate the hard work and unique products of Clark Family Farm, Teal Tractor CSA, Rolling Blue Farm, Elmwood Stock Farm, Rosemont Bakehouse and Bellaire Blooms among others. The event will also feature beverages from West Sixth Brewery and Talon Winery. Ticket cost is $75 per person which includes a $35 tax-deductible donation to Bluegrass Double Dollars (www.bgfarmtotable.org/double-dollars/). This program directly benefits Kentucky farmers and improves our community’s health by making local produce more affordable for food-insecure families in Lexington. Come enjoy a delicious meal, live music, and great conversation at the heart of a 6th generation family farm. We are grateful for your support of local farm families and look forward to seeing you at the table!
In the kitchen during these hot days, we all turn to cool dishes to stir up. Two of my all-time favorites, neither requiring turning on a single burner: