Westminster Farmers' Market

  (Westminster, Massachusetts)
Bringing you local food, friends and fun.
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Westminster Farmers' Market Report for 10-23-09

Westminster Farmers’ Market Report from Maple Heights Farm


Winding Down with the Pumpkin Festival


Join us for the Pumpkin Fest this Friday!  Come for a hayride, chowder, cider, coffee, homemade pumpkin donuts, and the musical talent of Gibby Lashua.  Between and there will be a pumpkin art contest for grades k-5.  Judging will begin at and winners announced at .  Many thanks to Wiinhaven farm for providing the pumpkins and for the hay ride!  Donation for the pumpkin art contest is $5.00 and your child will be able to take home their painted pumpkin.  All proceeds will help fund Mass Agriculture in the Classroom programs in our schools.


Massachusetts Local Food…


Orders open for Massachusetts Local Food this Friday.  All products are locally produced and offered directly from the producer – just like at the farmers’ market.  We are adding more eggs this month and we hope to have organic yogurt online by Friday.  Go online and read about each producer and consider your food needs for the winter.  Orders close November 2nd and Delivery day is Friday November 6th (after our farmers market has closed for the season).  Deliveries will be made to Westminster, Sterling and Berlin – so pick the location that is more convenient for you.


What’s in the market…


It seems too early to be saying this, but you only have two weeks to finish preparing your larder for Thanksgiving and filling your bags with Christmas gifts from the market.  I have seen some small blue hubbards (probably the finest winter squash, but usually too big to be practical) and delicious Delicata.  Don’t wait.  A New England Thanksgiving should be all about New England food!  This is your insurance that your vegetables are as fresh as possible and not shipped in from 3,000 miles away.  Stock up on cranberries, carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, squash, sugar pumpkins, did I miss anything??  All of these items will store well between now and Thanksgiving if you find a cool, protected place in your garage – off the cement floor.  The variety that you find over the next two weeks will likely be unavailable by Thanksgiving.


For Christmas don’t forget, two gifts each week!  Baby clothes, knit goods, hats, mittens and hand warmers, jewelry and tiles, wine gift sets, cards, baskets, soaps, perfumes, birdhouses, fudge, goat cheese, cheddar and gouda cheese, meat and so much more.  And don’t forget treats for the dog in your life!   


This week I met a friend for lunch.  She had a loaf of Ann Patsis’ homemade 100% whole wheat bread.  I have to tell you it was delicious!  I have been trying to perfect this type of bread at home and thought I was doing pretty well until I tried Ann’s.  Hers has a mild, sweet flavor that is perfect for toast or a sandwich, or buttered and served with soup.  And it did not have that overpowering, almost tart flavor that 100% whole wheat can have.  Delicious and worth a try!  Even if you don’t like whole wheat, you will probably like this!


I have a pumpkin in the oven at this moment.  I cut it in half, removed the seeds and popped it in the oven to roast.  When it is done I will turn it into pumpkin donuts for the festival tomorrow.  Meghan will be serving this along with her regular raised donuts that she usually has.  This may be the only time we make them this year, so don’t forget to try one when you stop by for your coffee.  Donuts are $1.25.  And about those seeds…  Save your seeds – not just from pumpkin but from varieties of squash too.  Rinse them in a colander, air dry the on a cookie sheet and store them in a glass jar in your pantry.  When you want a snack for a movie or TV night, roast them in the oven and enjoy.




How can you eat the best quality food and keep the cost down?  By stretching meals you create a savings for yourself both in dollars and in time.  With a few minutes planning you can extend a roast into two or three (or more) meals and it won’t require too many hours in the kitchen.  This week we cooked a chuck roast ($15.00).  We had a delicious pot roast with all the standard vegetables, potato, onion and carrots.  We ate half the meat leaving half for another meal.  I also saved the broth which went into a sausage soup ($4.50 for the sausage) and I skimmed the fat for some gravy.  There was enough leftover soup for another meal which I put it in the freezer for another day.  Finally, we had shepherd’s pie with the remaining half of the chuck roast.  We used carrots instead of corn (no local corn and I just can’t switch to frozen while summer corn is still so fresh in my mind). 


Altogether we had 4 dinners (for 6 people) plus three lunch boxes packed for school, for a total of 27 meals.  The roast and sausage totaled $19.50, ingredients for the soup and some cornbread an additional $4.00.  I substituted dumplings for tortellini (unprocessed, cheaper, and the kids like is as much) and cauliflower for zucchini because I only have my dried zucchini and I don’t want to use it while I still have fresh veges available.  The remainder of the vegetables came from my garden, but they are all vegetables that are easily available at the farmers’ market this time of year (carrots, potato, onion, garlic) and would have added only $3 to $6 to the total cost of these meals.  So, for less than $30 it is possible to get 27 individual meals on the table.  That does not count the cost of drinks (we drink water) or the remainder of the bottle of wine (required in the recipes) which has since been finished, but you get the idea. 


All of these meals were prepared with the very best ingredients and absolutely no junk or non food items of any kind.  No trans fats, no genetically modified anything, just real, healthy food.  Could I have done this cheaper?  Yes and no.  I do have a Ramen Noodle Frittata that I can serve for about .25 per serving; it tastes good, but has a lot of junk in it (whatever Ramen is).  I’m not sure that I can buy convenience foods (processed foods) for less, but I am sure that they would contain a lot of junk.  I can certainly buy the meat for less per pound, but I’m not getting the same nutrition (Omega balance, CLA, fats, lack of chemicals and medications).  Is it worth the price?  Yes.


As a disclaimer: the meat is ours, but our opportunity cost (we can sell all of it) dictates that I add it as part of my food budget at the price everyone pays.  In other words, I buy it from myself.


In the Garden…


I checked the remaining Concord grapes on Saturday in between soccer games.  They had frozen and thawed at least once by then.  On Monday the grape juice that we made last week was gone and I was told that we needed more.  It did not matter to this particular child that the grapes were squishy and probably rotting on the vine, so off we went to pick more (in between soccer practices).  I have to say the second batch of grape juice was almost as good as the first and I’m glad we tried it again.  Now that the grapes are surely past any quality worthy of juice, we are eyeballing our crabapple tree and our Kousa dogwood.  The juice is really very easy to make (boil it with sugar and strain it) and it may be worth trying other fall berries just to see how it tastes! 


We are lucky enough to have found (the library has it) The New Victory Garden book by Bob Thomson and have followed it as closely as time permitted this year (minus all the parts where he instructed us to weed).  Because of this we are still eating plenty out of our garden and should be perhaps into January (though it will be limited to leeks, mache and borecole by then).  Russell and I spent a few hours digging potatoes and getting them ready for storage.  We are still trying to dry the remainder of the bean vines which I will hang in our “cold storage” room.  We will also dig and store our dahlias, carrots, beets, along with storing squash, kohlrabi and pumpkins.  The remainder will get mulched and we will hope that we don’t misjudge the weather and lose it all to a freeze.  If you choose to use this book, make the decision before January which is when the garden season begins for Mr. Thomson.  For my purposes (to successfully harvest any vegetables at all from my garden) this is the best book gardening book that I have read so far.


It is time to plant garlic.  Find some good quality garlic and pop it into the garden now.  Set aside about 15 minutes for this task (assuming you have a place cleared out).  Hardneck will give you scapes in the spring.  Ask the vendors at the market about planting instructions.


Entertainment for the Upcoming Weeks


We 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 23rd:  Musical and comic talent of Gibby Lashua.


·        October 30: The encore performance of the award winning team of Ron and Meghan McGuire!  And the singing and songwriting talent of Tess Rembetsy-Brown.  I hope she sings her fifth grade graduation song that she wrote for her class.  I have yet to hear it!




For next week:  Saving on home heating fuel this winter and reducing our dependency on big box stores…


We will be selling meat through the winter.  Stop by our booth to get information on ordering throughout the winter.


Have a good week and see you at the market.


Kerrie Hertel    mapleHeightsFarm@verizon.net


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