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Posts Tagged ‘farmers market’


Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre/for the Washington Post
Mustafa Azimi, center, joins a discussion group hosted by Randy Harris, a friend, whose table is usually positioned near the Islamic Center’s table at a New Mexico farmers market.

Even though Thanksgiving dinners have an unfortunate reputation for fraught conversations among family members, it’s still true that sitting together and sharing food often bridges differences. That’s why going places where food is the main event — say, farmers markets — could be a great way to find commonalities with people from other cultures.

Abigail Hauslohner at the Washington Post describes one market’s experiment.

“The mother and daughter arrived just before 8 a.m., unpacking the table and folding chairs from the back of a white minivan. It was a chilly 43 degrees, and the sun cast long shadows between the farmers market stalls and the funnel cake truck, the smell of grilled meat and wood smoke hovering.

“Sureyya Hussain carefully laid out the Korans.

“Soon, the curious passersby began to approach with their questions, their comments and their concerns. The answers, Hussain hoped, would inform and enlighten — or at least spur constructive conversations about being Muslim in America.

“ ‘We wanted to have a voice about what Islam is for us,’ said Hussain, 50, who organizes the monthly table, where anyone can come to learn about Islam. …

“For some of the nation’s small-town mosques and groups of recent immigrants, the instinct has been to turn inward, keep a low profile, buy security cameras, and tell young people to avoid confrontations. Other communities have tried the exact opposite: public engagement.

“The Islamic Center of Las Cruces, the only mosque in this desert town of 101,000 about an hour north of the Mexican border, is one of them.

“Hussain and other members of the mosque’s Dawa — or outreach committee — come here, to the town’s farmers market, and set up a sign that says ‘Know Islam’ amid the stalls hawking apples, kettle corn and handmade soaps. They provide free Korans and pamphlets on different Islamic beliefs, and then they sit there for five hours, offering themselves up for whatever comes their way. …

“Sometimes the conversations get difficult — maybe even a little uncomfortable or combative — but the volunteers do their best to stay calm and friendly.

“ ‘I could very easily sit in my house and hang out, but I’ve decided to do something, and this is the consequence of doing something,’ said Mustafa Azimi, 27, a nurse, who joined Hussain and her daughter, along with his wife and another member of the mosque. ‘People are going to ask you questions. The goal is showing the community that Islam is not what the news portrays. If people knew that Muslims are also — like, that I’m a nurse who also knows how to cook food — that would be awesome.’ …

“ ‘Overall it’s been wonderful,’ said Hussain, a lawyer who grew up in Wyoming and is a mother of three. ‘People are friendly. People have a lot to say. Even people who disagree with us.’ …

” ‘We get more people that are stopping just to tell us that they either love us being here, or, like ACT for America, yell us down,’ Hussain said. ‘We get more of that because both sides feel the need to tell us how they feel.’

“As 1 p.m. approached and the farmers market began to wind down, a man in a cowboy hat, lugging a large metal washtub, walked up, looked at the sign and struck up a conversation. …

“ ‘Do you follow sharia law?’ [asked a guy calling himself Washtub Jerry.] ‘Do you want sharia law? Because it’s not compatible with the Constitution.’

“[Radwan Jallad, an electrical engineer and member of the mosque’s Dawa committee] explained: ‘Sharia law says you’re required to follow the law of the country.’

“Jerry seemed satisfied. He accepted a Koran, and said he would visit again.” More at the Washington Post, here. And check out a similar “Ask a Muslim” initiative started by one couple in Cambridge, Mass., here.

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Aren’t these bouquets splendid? They’re from a stand at the farmers market. In addition to flowers, Amy sells a wide array of produce — one of the few vendors who do, as the farmers at the market have gradually been outnumbered by New Shoreham artisans and bakers.

The porch photo was, I fear, an unsuccessful attempt to capture the full magnificence of two Rose of Sharon bushes in Providence.

The grandchildren don’t put a price on their lemonade. It turns out that when you just ask for donations, you make out like a bandit. More money for toys and for your donation to conservation.

Next are photos of the weed mullein, which looks so pretty when it blooms, and Queen Anne’s Lace growing alongside the corn at the Spring House. The long shots are from the Narrangansett Hotel on New Harbor and the Spring House.

Conserfest (Music on a Mission) was held at the former on August 5, and what a great concert and conservation fest it is! Organized by music lovers and performers who are part of the next generation of conservationists, it encourages you to “Embrace Your Place” wherever you live and take care of the natural envionment. It’s really the young who are going to save the planet, I think. Follow this group on Facebook, here.

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Love this story by Leigh Vincola at EcoRI News.

“The Harvest Kitchen Project is one of the many arms of Farm Fresh Rhode Island that keeps local food circulating in our communities. The program takes area youth, ages 16-19, who are involved with juvenile corrections, and puts them to work making sauces, pickles and other preserves.

“The teenagers participate in a 20-week job-readiness program that prepares them for employment in the food industry. The program touches not only on kitchen skills but the on the many aspects of work in the culinary industry, from sales and customer service to local farm sourcing to teamwork and cooperation. …

“For the past several years, Harvest Kitchen has operated out of a commercial kitchen space in Pawtucket.”

But when Pawtucket Central Falls Development (PCF) “approached Farm Fresh with its rehabilitation plan for 2 Bayley St., a downtown [Pawtucket] multi-use building that would include affordable housing, retail space and job-training opportunities, the match seemed perfect.” More  at EcoRI, here.

I’ve been buying Harvest Kitchen’s applesauce at the Burnside Farmers Market, and I’m being completely honest when I say it’s the best applesauce I’ve had in years. That’s partly because I love chunks in my applesauce, but also because it’s sweet with no sugar added. If you return the empty jar, you get 25 cents back on the next jar.

Harvest Kitchen offers cranberry and strawberry applesauce, too. Other products include dried apple slices, peach slices in season, whole tomatoes, pickles with veggies, dilly beans and onion relish.

In addition to PCF, organizations that have helped to make this happen include Rhode Island Housing, RI Department of Children Youth and Families (Division of Juvenile Correction), Amgen Foundation, Fresh Sound Foundation, The Rhode Island Foundation and TriMix Foundation.

Find sales locations here.

Photo: FarmFreshRI

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Who can resist a farmers market at this time of year? They are such joyful places.

Saturday we went with Erik and the kids to the Hope Street Farmers Market in Providence. It’s in a good-sized park where there is a playground as well as farmstands, crafts, live music, samosas, tacos, flowers, raw juices, fish, sausages, granola made by refugees …

After his grilled cheese and his Del’s lemonade, our 3-year-old grandson chose the little green and orange pumpkin below. It’s now on his dining-room table at home. His sister, when she wasn’t sleeping, worked hard at inspecting everything on the ground and trying to put it in her mouth.

A few words from the website on extra offerings that might interest backers of other farmers markets: “For your convenience, here are some of the unique features of the Hope Street Farmers Market: The Bicycle Valet at the Saturday morning market, run by Recycle-A-Bike, a volunteer-based community organization that connects people with refurbished bikes, provides practical bike knowledge, and advocates bicycle use by safer, more confident cyclists. Anyone can drop off their bike while shopping and know that it will be safely watched and sometimes even tuned up, for a small fee, while they shop. http://www.recycleabike.org gives a full description and mission of the organization.

“Knife Sharpening while you shop is another new feature of our Saturday market. You can drop our your knives (wrap them carefully and mark them with your name please!) to be professionally sharpened for a small fee while you shop.

“Live music at the markets features local musicians or acoustic bands playing every Saturday and some Wednesdays, so feel free to bring a blanket, buy your picnic lunch or supper and enjoy the entertainment.”

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Nice to run into Judith and Paul at the annual downtown farmers market. We always talk shop a little because we worked together in the ’90s. I was interested to hear she is back doing writing for our former colleague Kate, currently a principal at leadership consultancy SweetmanCragun.

Now about these pictures: Main Streets Café is always creative with their seasonal displays. I don’t know that I would think of lining up pumpkins under a bench. The squashes are from Hutchins Farm. First Root Farm’s display includes radishes, beets, and carrots. The chrysanthemums and asters were tempting, but the car was parked too far away for me to carry a big plant.

Finally, please note the funny vehicles the kids are racing. I include a close-up of several late-model vegetable cars. (Pick a squash; add wheels.)

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Over at radio show Living on Earth, “Steve Curwood spoke with farmer and author Audrey Levatino, who has written Woman Powered Farm: Manual for a Self-Sufficient Lifestyle from Homestead to Field. …

“CURWOOD: Why did you decide to write a book about farming specifically for women?

“LEVATINO: Well, women were coming up to me at the farmers’ market and asking about what I did and were very interested. Many of them wanted to know how to get into farming and growing things themselves, and so they wanted advice and instructions on how to get started. …

“CURWOOD: Audrey, what do women farm more typically as opposed to men?

“LEVATINO: That’s a great question, and that’s another thing that I really investigated when I was writing the book. And many women get into this farming business. It starts off as just wanting to provide the best and healthiest, most local food that they can for their families. So women are growing a lot of different things, but in many cases it is healthy, delicious, seasonal food. They know exactly where it came from, so that their children and their husbands and their neighbors can have the best food possible.

“But the other thing that I discovered as I got further into my research and interviewed lots of women farmers in my area and around the country is women are just amazingly creative: they grow herbs and other medicinal plants to make cheese, salves and tinctures. Women also tend to farm — when they do livestock — smaller animals. You know, things that are a little more manageable. And sometimes it’s for fiber — sheep and llamas and alpacas — other times it’s for milk, such as using goats to make cheese.” More here.

Audrey’s farm, Ted’s Last Stand, is located near Charlottesville, Virginia.

Photo: Michael Levatino
Audrey Levatino grows specialty cut flowers and sells them at local farmers’ markets to florists and restaurants, and for weddings.

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The little Vine video is of the fountain that children love in the Greenway. Nearby is the old State House, looking refined in the shadow of tall, impersonal modernities.

I took a photo of the sign explaining some new sculptures. They turn out to be part of the Design Biennial in Boston.

In the Dewey Square section of the Greenway, I also love the farmers market that materializes Tuesdays and Thursdays. Note the sunflowers, flourishing in the Greenway’s demonstration garden. The narrow, decrepit building behind them always intrigues me. What would you do with it if it were yours? It’s a valuable location that no one seems to want. What about a pocket performance space?

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