Westminster Farmers' Market

  (Westminster, Massachusetts)
Bringing you local food, friends and fun.
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Westminster Farmers' Market Report for 10-02-09

Westminster Farmers’ Market Report from Maple Heights Farm


Farmers’ Market Value?  You Bet!

 This week for your entertainment we bring you the award winning, father daughter team of Ron and Megan McGuire!  We are thrilled to have them and they will be playing and singing from until !  So, stop by and enjoy the afternoon, grab a cup of coffee, linger with your friends and neighbors and shop, shop, shop for Christmas!  Please remember that tips are always appreciated for all our performers.

 The delivery day for Mass Local Food is this Friday and this is going to be THE place to get your farmers’ market fresh food this winter.  Mass Local Food runs like an online farmers’ market which uses preordering and monthly deliveries to Westminster, Berlin and Sterling.  If we can get volunteers, we will set up deliveries wherever you want them!  Currently listed on the website, you can order from over 450 products including beefalo, pork, beef, jams and preserved fruits, breads, pies and pastries, award winning cheeses, eggs, cereal, garlic, squash, herbs for your winter windowsill, honey, soaps, coffee, tea, pesto and many handmade products.  Many of our producers can be found right in our local farmers’ markets.  There is a $25.00 fee for a temporary membership (refundable if you don’t like the co-op) and a 5% order fee.  This cooperative is run by volunteer effort and all money received is put back into the coop by purchasing software and supplies.

 The parade went off without a hitch, if you don’t count the weather!  It was loads of fun and if you didn’t get a free raffle ticket handed out as the Agricultural Commission fleet passed, stop by the water cooler at the farmers’ market and fill one out (or drop off the one you got at the parade).  This raffle will be held on October 9th and we will be raffling over $200 in farmers’ market items.  You don’t want to miss this one!



Farmers’ Market Value

 Do you get the same value at the farmers’ market that you do at the grocery store.  As shoppers, we all have different styles and needs and decisions that we make when buying food.  I tend to be frugal, trying to pinch every penny I can.  In order to do this we cook from scratch almost exclusively which allows us to eat high quality food and still save.  Some may hit Whole Foods every time they drive by Fresh Pond Parkway or head in the direction of Framingham (we do this more as a field trip than a shopping trip).  Another shopper may read the flyer for Market Basket and stock up on those items that are on sale (we do this too) and still another may stock up at B.J.s (we do this monthly but only for nuts, sugar, raisins, chocolate chips and a few baking supplies). 


 If you compare your farmers’ market food to what you are getting in your favorite grocery store I think the farmers’ market ALWAYS comes out ahead in value.  Sure you may get peppers cheaper at Market Basket but you will never beat the quality that you are getting at the farmers’ market.  In addition, you would have to go to the organic section in each store to closely compare what our growers are giving you.  Our meat prices at Maple Heights Farm are comparable to whole foods prices, but you can ask us about our growing and feeding routine, which we feel is better than what you are getting for “organic” at any store.  You can get the whole story from all the growers at the farmers’ market.  Our sausage has less fat so you are not draining away $1.00 per pound of your purchase price.  Vegetables that you are buying are not loaded with pesticide, and many of the vegetables are grown completely without pesticide.  These vendors are not allowed to call themselves “organic” because they have not paid the USDA for certification.  In most cases their vegetables are better than organic.  As a consumer at a farmers market, all you have to do is ask!

 If you are buying processed foods at your favorite grocery store, chances are you are paying twice what our farmers are charging at the market.  Granted you have to do a bit more work chopping vegetables or roasting squash, but, for flavor, economy and nutritional gains it is well worth the effort.

 The USDA estimates that Americans throw out 14% of the food they buy.  A savings can be realized by making a commitment to eat all of your farmers’ market purchases.  You deserve that for your health and your wallet.  Don’t consider extra food as leftovers.  Usually it is an opportunity to eat something you would otherwise get to enjoy.  Quesadillas or sandwiches are a good example.  They can be easily made, but not without the extra chicken you cooked for dinner two nights ago.  Same with our soups made with homemade broth.  The broth wouldn’t be possible if you threw out the carrots, onions and bones that went into it.  For some great uses of leftovers, read The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.

 Now, one confession I have to make.  Last Saturday was Russell’s 5th birthday.  In our family, on your birthday, you decide what’s for dinner.  He chose Happy Meals at McDonald’s.  That is what he got – and we all got (except Max who was lucky enough to be at his Homecoming dance and able to avoid this meal).  Three of us agreed that the taste was basically salt with very little beef flavor or food flavor for that matter.  Two of us enjoyed it very much and one (that found it enjoyable) was sick for about 45 minutes when we got home.  I did a bit of research and found that for my meal (a burger with cheese, French fries and a coffee shake) I had ingested more than a ½ teaspoon of salt!   Yuck.  In addition, this meal for five cost us about $18 dollars.  Had we made this at home (for 6 of us) using our own hamburger at $4.50 per pound and each having a cheeseburger and homemade fries and some of Max’s homemade root beer, the meal would have cost less than $9.00 and you can bet the burgers would have weighed more than 2.5 ounces and the cheese would have been real!  That is about $1.50 per person and provides the best quality food available ANYWHERE!

 Is the Farmers’ Market a bargain?  I think so!

 Shopping Bags…

 If you are in need of shopping bags, consider seeking out a student from the Westminster Elementary School and review their fundraiser.  They are selling great bags that are reusable for all your grocery needs.  Some of examples can be seen at Mixed Bag Designs! Between these beautiful bags and our own Farmers’ Market bags, you should be all set to carry your market purchases in style!

 Great Comfort Food!

 Last week we ate Delicata squash (delicious) and of course the standard by which all squash is judged, butternut.  Both delicious and both are among my favorites.  I have enough butternut left over for a nice soup, but I am getting serious pressure from my 14 year old and my 9 year old to make my chicken and rice (and mushroom) soup with my leftover chicken bones.  Maybe I’ll try the butternut soup with a vegetable broth???

 This week I think I’ll look for some acorn (I love how they look on the dinner table) and perhaps I’ll dig into my sugar pumpkin.  This pumpkin chili is delicious and almost everything can be obtained from the farmers’ market (or my vegetable garden).  I’ll substitute the ground turkey for ground beef and sausage.  I’ll substitute fresh Roma tomatoes and I’ll roast my pumpkin and substitute that for canned pumpkin.  Rain and soccer again from until this Saturday: will there be anything better to come home to than this pumpkin chili?

 Entertainment for the Upcoming Weeks

 I am thrilled to also have the following appearances scheduled over the next few weeks.  And I so appreciate the performers that take time out of their busy schedules to support our efforts at the farmers’ market:

 ·        October 2: Ron and Meghan McGuire which promises to be a wonderfully entertaining event.  You saw them in the Westminster 250th anniversary talent show where they won overall!

 ·        October 9:  Warren Rasmussen (read about him at his website.  He is raising new awareness about ground nuts in this area and will also be selling his book, The Mary Rowlandson Story, which is a piece of local history involving Mary, Wachusett Mountain and Redemption Rock!)

 ·        October 9: Free raffle drawing for Farmers’ Market Basket!

 ·        October 16th: Pumpkin Festival.  Art contest, hay rides, prizes, food, fun.  $5 donation for pumpkin art contest.  All proceeds will fund local Ag in the Classroom projects.


 For your Christmas shopping pleasure:

 Only five shopping days left until Christmas!  Remember, two gifts each week while you enjoy the farmers’ market may make your Holidays stress free!  Don’t forget to use our farmers’ market bags for gift wrap!  The bags are on display by the water cooler and can be purchased through Al Magane, our market manager!

 ·        Jewelry selection at several booths, include bracelets, pins, necklaces, earrings.

 ·        Hand made soaps.  Growing up we always used dial.  Over the years I would purchase Dial or Dove for my family but this past year I have been using soaps from the farmers’ market and soaps that my father-in-law gave me after he won a gift pack of goat soap at the Yankee Street Fair.  Well, after months of using handmade soap, I finally opened a bar of dial.  I was really surprised at how chemically and unpleasant it smelled to me.  I had always thought that was a nice clean smell, but no more.  I’ll be looking to replenish my supply this week!

 ·        Wine gift sets and baby gift sets at several booths.

 ·        Dried lavender tied into beautiful bunches. And Lavender sachets in antique handkerchiefs.


 Have a good week and see you at the market.

 Kerrie Hertel    mapleHeightsFarm@verizon.net

 Westminster Farmers’ Market: Fridays until until October 30th.

 Gardner Farmers’ Market at the Mount: Mondays until .

 Ashburnham Farmers’ Market: Mondays until

 Winchendon Farmers’ Market: Thursdays until

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