Mike is off to the Farmers Market this morning with shiitakes, dried gourds and snow peas in hand. The baskets the market puts together, and he provided some mushrooms for last week, are CSA baskets. Now, I knew people buy CSA baskets, but I wasn’t aware shares could be purchased at the Farmers Market. For the uninformed, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. This is how it works: a produce consumer purchases shares at the beginning of a planting season and receives, in exchange, a portion of the harvest. The farmer-producers gets a set portion of the proceeds in exchange for his goods. It’s as simple as that. As our farm produces more over the summer, he will take more for sale in the market, as well as filling the CSA baskets. Soon there should be shiitake and oyster mushrooms, squash, zucchini, two or three kinds of potatoes, green beans, corn, six or eight different types of tomatoes, several kinds of pumpkins, gourds, cushaws…even sunflowers! What a terrific way for city-folk to purchase fresh farm produce! Some CSAs even offer farm-produced meat and eggs. Check out your local Farmers Market to see if they have a similar program and what that involves..and think of all the gas you’ll save by making one trip to pick up all your produce for the week and how much fresher and tastier (tomatoes, for example) than some of the grocery store stuff!
Yesterday, since the soybeans are done and the weather cooled off a little, Mike boiled up some new straw for mushrooms. In the past, he’s always used an old laundry cauldron which he built a fire under to pasteurize the straw. This year, he tried something a little different. Some years back he acquired an old commerical restaurant tub and used it for soaking the logs in the woods. It is huge, but it was difficult running water down to the woods to fill it and emptying it sent a stream of water down the dirt road to the mushroom patch. He brought it up closer to the house, set its legs up on cinder blocks and pasteurized the straw in it. It hold an entire bale plus water, making it convenient….and the deluge of water we dreaded in the woods, can feed the kitchen garden close to the house, instead. In our ‘throwaway society’ it’s nice to know that farmers reuse and repurpose almost everything! The thing is, it is not a new idea or marketing ploy. Farmers have always been that way, city-folks like me are just now catching up to old practices.
I was reading through craigslist this morning. Somebody wants a “bronze Tom.” No, they aren’t looking for a cabana boy. Someone else is looking for a “Black Tennessee Walker”…uh huh. And another person has “Neck Sweat” for sale. I remember a time I would not have understood those ads. For those like the old me, a tom goes with a hen, a Tennessee Walker is a horse, and Neck Sweat is…hmmm…what IS that? Is $5 for it a bargain? I’ll have to ask Mike when he gets back.
Much as I enjoy reading craigslist, it can be hard to resist. I have had to fight myself against buying a donkey…he was so cute and could guard the calves, right? A baby pygmy goat was darling and could keep the lawn mowed, couldn’t he? Alpaca juveniles look like cotton balls with legs…a little industrial-strength velcro and you have a wall hanging! Naw, I wouldn’t do that to them…they are just too beautiful. It’s all Mike’s fault. He didn’t want farm animals. Now I want them all! Every time I see a baby anything for sale on the list, I find myself trying to figure out how I can get it, where I can keep it, how I can feed it, and what use is it. Unless I open a petting zoo, I need to stop even considering the animals. BUT THEY ARE SO CUTE!!! How can you turn this down?”
Guess I better stick with helping Mike with the CSA…and that doesn’t mean Cute Squooshy Animals!