Getting Food From the Farm to the Table – a Challenge for Many, Including Me!

Farm to Table and seasonal eating is pretty trendy, right now.  More and more people are wanting to get closer to their food, and are beginning to understand the value of local, seasonal eating.  Many consumers are now frequenting farmer’s markets in increasing numbers to enjoy fresh, locally grown food because it is, well, fresh.  Plus,  it usually tastes better and has a higher nutritional value than food that has been imported, traveled long distances, or has had significant time pass between harvest and consumption.

As a small vendor of local, fresh, organic produce, I am happy to see the “locavore” (someone who exclusively or primarily eats foods from their local or regional foodshed or a determined radius from their home – About.com) movement growing, and not just because I have a financial stake in it (ha!  If you could only see my ledgers :O), but because I truly believe that eating fresh, local, and seasonal food is good for the body and soul.

late summer harvest

The people that I sell to believe in this primary principle, as well.  Most of my customers come to me because they want to consume fresh, organic, high-quality produce.  Many rely on me to provide them with a weekly source of fresh produce (through my weekly vegetable subscription) because they want help getting more healthy foods into their diets.  I love that they are open to trying out new varieties that they may have never seen before.

Farm to Table, seasonal eating, while great in theory, oftentimes proves difficult in practice, however.   “What do I do with this UFO looking thingy?” a customer asks about a Bennings Green Tint Scallop Squash.  “What else can I d0 with this zucchini?” another muses.   “I’m a horrible cook”, another quips, or “I just don’t have time to figure out what to do with all of this produce”, someone else admits.

It’s a problem.

I know, and what often ends up happening is that all of that wonderful, fresh, organic, seasonal produce that came straight from the farm and had such great potential doesn’t ever make it to the table, and instead ends up in the compost (or worse, the trash).  I’m not blamin’ anyone, here.  Believe me, I’m guilty of it, too – I’m a farmer, really, and not a cook, so I struggle with what to do with, yet, another zucchini just as much as the next guy. 😉

I’m so thankful, though, that we live in the age of the internet, where recipes that make use of fresh, seasonal ingredients are only a click – or two, or three – away!  (I say, “a click – or two, or three – away” because often times recipes that say they make use of seasonal ingredients really don’t.   Call me a purist, but for me, having to go to the grocery store to build a recipe that makes use of only one or two seasonal items, but many other out-of-season items doesn’t count as “Farm to Table”.  When I say Farm to Table, I’m talking about recipes that make use of -mainly – seasonal ingredients, plus a few other, staple,  ingredients that I already have on hand in my pantry.)  Okay, I’ll get off of my soapbox, now.

Anyway, here are a few, true, Farm to Table  recipe favorites of mine that I thought I’d share with you.  They are quick and easy to assemble, make use of the star of the summer garden- zucchini – in fresh and interesting ways, and taste pretty darn fabulous, too, I might add.

  •  Get breakfast started with these yummy Zucchini Bread Pancakes from  Naturally Ella.  I really enjoy these pancakes.  A great way to start the day with veggies, other than a smoothie!
  • For lunch, enjoy this light meal of Penne with Tomato, Basil, Zucchini, and Garlic from Barilla pasta.  I love that it also makes use of fresh, seasonal tomatoes, and basil.  Whips up in a jiff, too!
  • For dinner it’s back over to Naturally Ella for a Zucchini Paella.  Disclaimer:  I’m actually making this recipe, for the first time, as I write.  It looks amazingly wonderful and filling, and can’t wait to see how it turns out!. (BTW, I’m making it with lentil beans, since that’s what I had on hand, in my pantry :)).
  • And, to round it out, we’ll include a great dessert of Chocolate Zucchini Muffins or Bread from my own archives.  These taste a lot like brownies, or so I’ve been told.  Frost them, if you must, but they are wonderful bare bones, too!

Whether you’re a locavore, or not,   these recipes are a great way to make use of the  summer’s bounty.  I hope you Pin, bookmark, print, or save them so that the next time you get a boatload of summer goodies you’ll know exactly what to do to bring them from the local farm right to your table!

Do you enjoy cooking with seasonal ingredients?  Feel free to share your favorite seasonal recipe in the comments, or post over on my Fb page at /whitsacres.

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Farmer’s Market – Making Straight My Path

I am super excited to be selling at a small Farmer’s Market in a nearby town!  I don’t know that it’s going to be a huge income generator, but it is a wonderful opportunity to get out and meet people, share some of the wonderful produce that I am growing, here, at My Happy Homestead, and talk to people about growing and eating heirloom, organic food, and everything to do with gardening.

selling at the Farmer's Market

As with any business venture, I think it’s going to take some time for me to figure out my niche, but I am eager to learn, grow, and get better at what I do.

As the weeks go by, I hope to learn:

  •  what the community that I am serving desires in terms of products – my favorites may not necessarily be theirs.
  • how to price my goods fairly, yet at a level where I can make a little bit of a profit.
  • how much inventory to bring with me so that supply levels keep up with demand and don’t over-exceed it.
  • how to plant at the right intervals, in the garden, so as to keep a steady supply of fresh produce stocked for the market.
  • how to maximize space, in the garden, to grow as many different species and varieties as possible so that I have an abundance of fresh produce to offer.
  • as much as I can about what I grow and how I grow it so that I can easily explain and answer any questions that my customers may have.

I hope to grow:

  • as a farmer
  • as an entrepreneur

I hope to get better at:

  • time management
  • sales
  • plant production, propagation
  • meeting the needs of the community that I am serving
  • honing in on the best products to sell

I know that a learning curve comes with every new venture, but I  don’t think this one is too steep for me to overcome.  There is a ton of great information out there, on the web, by people who have been doing this for years that I have already learned so much from – especially in terms of booth display (which, by the way, I got great compliments from the Master Gardeners at the market on – yay!).  My favorite post on the subject can be found at the Rodale Institute.

The biggest challenge, for me,  is going to be not casting my net too wide.  There are so many different and wonderful opportunities that I envision happening at my Farmer’s Market booth.  In addition to the fresh veggies, I imagine selling baked and prepared goods, like our family’s favorite Chocolate-Zucchini bread, and single-serving, ready-to-eat, fresh garden salad with homemade salad dressing.  To go along with my fresh herbs, I’d love to venture into selling a homemade, herbal body scrub (I’m thinking lavender-rosemary and sweet pea for starters).  I have lots of great ideas that I’ve started to pin on my Fruit Stand board on Pinterest, and I’d love to try my hand at utilizing every single one of them!

I know that I cannot possibly do everything that I want to do.  So, I will do as Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.” (He always does). 🙂

I’m so thankful for this opportunity and look forward to this new adventure in my life.  It may not make me a millionaire, but like everything else that I put my hand to, out at My Happy Homestead, it will be done -first and foremost- 100% to the glory of God, and then it will be a labor of love – measured in new friendships, business opportunities, life experiences, and the opportunity to pursue one of my greatest passions – gardening – things that can’t be measured in mere dollars, after all.

Have you turned any of your talents or passions into a business?   What is the greatest thing(s) you’ve learned?  In what areas have you grown?  What have you become better at doing?

Thinking about turning your talents into a business?  What’s holding you back?  What do you envision for your business?