Farm Fresh RI blog

Musings about locally grown food in the ocean state

Summer Update from the Harvest Kitchen

At Harvest Kitchen, we’re turning the calendar on August with a mix of apprehension and wonder. The summer of 2014, in just two months, has defied our expectations in every category. We’re making more of our signature products than ever before, helping more farmers, empowering more youth, and beginning to get noticed by some people who could really help Harvest Kitchen grow.

Production

Since June 1st, our veteran graduate production crew at the kitchen on Pawtucket Avenue has cranked out more than 1,100 jars of our signature Harvest Kitchen products. Dilly beans, bread and butter zucchini, dill pickles, hot carrots and squash chips have been flying off the tables at our summer markets. This year we’ve also begun collaborations with P.V. Farm to pack a specialty secret recipe marinara sauce (Frank is now selling it at farmers markets!) and Bombster Scallops to create an excellent garlic-scape pesto. Wish us luck as the harvest continues to come in – it’s keeping us busy!  

Collaboration

On June 23rd, eight of our veteran trainees and a few lucky adults ventured to Lynn, Massachusetts to pay a visit to the youth of The Food Project and see their North Shore urban farm and market space. This was our second opportunity in 2014 to engage with The Food Project (read about our visit in March here). This month’s trip became something wonderful and unexpected when, after lunch, our two groups of youth and adults from such a wide variety of backgrounds got together to listen and tell stories, no qualifiers, just stories. As we heard the diversity of our selves aired in the space between us all, something magical began to happen. The stories took on an uncanny similarity based more on quality and connection than content. Community is an amazing thing to witness, and we thank the excellent staff and youth of The Food Project for the opportunity to bask in it. 

 

Harvest Kitchen has Arrived at The Table

On July 28th, our beloved Sales Manager and spokesperson Osbert Styles ventured to Washington, DC to speak on a panel at a meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This council, chaired by U.S Attorney General Eric Holder and comprised of officials from various federal agencies, is charged with coordinating federal juvenile justice programs. They seek to examine what works, what doesn’t, and how they might better serve at-risk youth. This was an incredible opportunity for Osbert to represent not only himself, Harvest Kitchen, and the work we do, but also the thousands of youth involved in the juvenile justice system who don’t get the chance. Needless to say he did a fantastic job. We have never been more proud. 

Off to a Healthy Start

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Last week marked the opening of Healthy Foods, Healthy Families (HFHF) in conjunction with five Farm Fresh Rhode Island farmers markets and one community center in Newport.  This nutrition education program teaches families with young children about the importance of locally grown food and empowers them with the resources to buy and prepare healthy meals.  Zucchini Week kicked off the 2014 season! With a refreshing and simple shaved zucchini salad prepared by the HFHF Community Chef, zucchini made its debut on the HFHF tasting menu.

Something new at Healthy Foods, Healthy Families this year is a deepened focus on peer-based learning and multi-cultural education. We have experienced tremendous growth in the program over the last three years and as a result, our staffing model has evolved to meet the needs of our diverse participants. This year in partnership with Community Health Innovations of RI, HFHF staff have participated in a customized Community Health Worker training, combining the fundamentals of cultural humility, popular education, and capacity building with additional content around food systems and food access education.  By broadening the diversity of the HFHF staff, we seek to bridge cultural and language gaps and deepen our impact through connecting more with the incredibly rich cultures that we encounter at our markets. As much as we are teaching this summer, we are also learning. 

See HFHF in action at these participating locations this season! 

Healthy Foods, Healthy Families is made possible this year by Blue Cross Blue Shield RI, the Fresh Sound Foundation, the Newman’s Own Foundation, and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation. 

Six Farmers Markets Opening THIS WEEK!

image Many of us might be looking forward to a short holiday week, but here at Farm Fresh we are gearing up for the opening of SIX of our summertime farmers markets! Check out the list below, and stop by to pick up everything you need to stock up for your holiday festivities. 

WOONSOCKET FARMERS MARKET: Tuesdays 3pm – 6pm            

Opens July 1st at Thundermist Health Center, 450 Clinton St., Woonsocket

DOWNTOWN FARMERS MARKET: Tuesdays 3pm – 6pm                

Opens July 1st near Burnside Park, Downtown Kennedy Plaza, Providence

WEST WARWICK FARMERS MARKET: Thursdays 3pm – 6pm        

Opens July 3rd at Thundermist Health Center, 186 Providence St., West Warwick

BROAD STREET FARMERS MARKET: Saturdays 8:30am – 12pm  

Opens July 5th at Algonquin House, 807 Broad St., Providence

SLATER PARK FARMERS MARKET: Sundays 12pm – 3pm            

Opens July 6th in Slater Park, at the Armistice Boulevard Entrance near tennis courts, Pawtucket

NEUTACONKANUT HILL FARMERS MARKET: Mondays 3pm – 6pm

Opens July 7th at Neutaconkanut Park, Plainfield St., Providence

All Farm Fresh Rhode Island markets accept cash, credit cards, EBT/SNAP, Senior Coupons, WIC Farmers Market Coupons and WIC Fruit and Vegetable checks.  Customers with credit, debit or EBT cards can purchase Fresh Bucks – farmers’ market tokens – at the Farm Fresh RI welcome table.  Farm Fresh RI markets provide an additional 40% bonus for customers using EBT to increase access to fresh fruits and veggies for low-income individuals.

At many of our markets, Farm Fresh sells a range of products that are not otherwise available from vendors at the market. These include things like Virginia & Spanish peanut butter, Narragansett Creamery products, oats, beans, and as always, our Harvest Kitchen line of jarred goods! Make sure you check out the “Farm Fresh & Co.” Sales table at the Downtown, Slater Park, and Armory Park markets. 

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The Art of Farm Fresh

If you’ve ever been to the winter farmers market and walked those lively halls, you’ve seen the fresh-off-the-farm or out-of-the-ocean produce, colorful jars full of preserves, or baked goods that look like miniature works of art. Back in the Farm Fresh office, there’s more sunlight and decidedly less hubbub. There are some similarities, though, especially when it comes to the colorful surroundings.

In the ten years since Farm Fresh RI started organizing better access to local food in Providence, we’ve formed some amazing relationships around the city and watched restaurants, neighborhoods and families evolve and change. Like our organization’s version of family snapshots, the posters from different markets and different artists throughout the city. Here’s a look at their work!

Thank you to our volunteer Margot Kempczynski for all of the photos!

When Louella Hill co-founded Farm Fresh Rhode Island with Noah Fulmer in 2004, she was a senior at Brown University working towards a degree in environmental studies. She also had an artistic streak, which manifested itself in some of the posters and drawings that she did in the early days of Farm Fresh. Her hand-made style set the stage for Farm Freshs model for promotional materials, as we continued work with local artists and designers for ten years. Louella now works in San Francisco and had a book on cheesemaking at home coming out this winter!

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Artwork by Louella Hill

Arley-Rose Torsone, who went on to co-found Ladyfingers Letterpress with her partner Morgan Calderini, designed this bilingual group markets poster for Farm Fresh markets in 2007.

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(Close Up) Artwork by Arley-Rose Torsone

This Monday Market poster by an unknown artist is another example of the link between the food and arts community in Providence, an early attempt involving Farm Fresh to bring the two closer together.

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Gordon Fitch’s designs and original collage artwork are also here at the office, below is an original of a poster that he designed for the second winter farmers market.

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Artwork by Gordon Fitch

CW Roelle designed this poster for the Woonsocket Farmers Markets, original run of this series were water-colored individually and by hand.

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This poster was made in a collaboration with artists from The Dirt Palace, attributed to Polina Malikin.

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Buena Comida - Good Food and Close-up by Polina Malikin, thanks to Xander of the Dirt Palace for helping identify the artist.

Mark Pedini created this poster in 2007 for the wintertime market.

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Artwork by Mark Pedini

Ian Cozzens created an incredible poster for the Farmers Markets in 2008, and documented the whole printing process on his blog, here. The final result is beautiful!

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Artwork & photo by Ian G Cozzens

Emily Rye of Design Agency in Pawtucket has designed recent market posters for the summer and winter markets, including summer 2014!

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Farm Fresh office with the 2014 Market Posters/Artwork by Emily Rye

More poster design by Winsor Pop.

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Here’s to ten more years of Farm Fresh Rhode Island and artist collaboration!

Check out our availability and purchase Market Posters from this year and previous years here.

Buckets of Gratitude: Neighbors, Friends and the Farming Community

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Our neighbors in Pawtucket, Bucket Brewery, are on a roll. They are branching out of the bucket to work with local restaurants, local farms, and nonprofits.

Buckets Of Gratitude (also known as BOG) is a seasonal beer that works with local ingredients from Rhode Island farmers. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Farm Fresh Rhode Island and our Harvest Kitchen program.

We’d like to express our thanks for being involved in this effort. We are grateful to be part of a community that values locally sourced ingredients and supporting local businesses.

You can learn more about BOG at the Bucket Brewery website, or get recipes from their kitchen blog!

Guest Blog - A June Veggie Box

Susan Walker is a grad student at Brown University and a volunteer with our Veggie Box pack line who was so inspired by the produce in the last veggie box that she decided to share her experience and recipes here on the blog! You can sign up for Veggie Box and receive weekly or biweekly local and seasonal veggies from MA and RI farms as well as recipes, storage tips and more!

I don’t know about you, but I was pretty psyched about the contents of Tuesday’s Farm Fresh Veggie Box. I help pack the Veggie Boxes bright and early Tuesday mornings at Farm Fresh. Sometimes, if there is anything leftover, volunteers get to take things home. I take issue with the idea that it’s expensive to eat locally sourced food, so I like to share how you can eat high quality food for low cost. Volunteering your time is one way to do that.  I also meet great people, and I find myself actually having fun by 7:00 am. Then I go home and cook!

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So when I come home with some poundage of fresh local veggies, I usually start some of the prep immediately.  I decide what will last in the fridge for a while, and what should be cooked right away.  Soft greens go first, as well as native berries.  The kale that came in the veggie box will be good next week. The little turnips that look deceptively like beets or radishes, will last probably 2 weeks in the fridge. I had my eye on those greens. I chopped the greens off the turnips first and washed them. I bagged the turnips and put them in the fridge. Please do this with your radishes! Radish greens are so tasty and nutritious, but they wilt in a day. If you want to get the most out of your radish bunch, chop the greens and toss into whatever you’re cooking that night. I washed and chopped the mustard greens next and sauteed them with the turnip greens in olive oil with 4 cloves of garlic.

Recipe:

Any soft, tender spring greens, chopped

As much garlic as you want, minced

2 tbs olive oil

Procedure:

Heat up the olive oil to medium heat in your biggest skillet or even a pot if you have a lot of greens. They shrink up fast. Add washed and chopped greens. Add garlic. Toss around frequently. The greens are done when they’ve shrunk to about a sixth of their original size. Add as much table salt as you want once they are on your plate. I use no salt in my cooking and add as much as I like when I am at the table. It is a privilege I earn by eating very little processed food.

The bag of Rhode Island Mushroom Company mushrooms was a real treat.  I had no ability to control myself, so I chopped and sautéed those up immediately.

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Recipe:

Mushrooms, chopped

Butter

Procedure:

Melt butter in skillet over medium low heat. Don’t let the butter burn. Add mushrooms. Saute until they have darkened in color a bit and they have a nice glossy look.  The trick with beautiful native mushrooms like this is to keep the subtlety of the flavor alive. Please don’t put them in a marinara sauce or something with a ton of garlic. Let the mushrooms sing on their own.  Last year a friend gave me a nice assortment of these same mushrooms for my birthday. It was a great gift. My best friend from college slept over at my birthday party, and in the morning we had “exotic” mushroom and local egg omelets with Bloody Marys. We laughed over what we would pay for that brunch in a restaurant.  

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As you may have guessed, I actually had a steak for dinner last night, with mushrooms on top and greens on the side. I am not a steak master. In fact, I complained to poor Geoff Beresford of Beresford Beef that my wholesale ½ of a side of grass fed beef order I picked up in November had too many steaks. He didn’t answer that email.  Looking back, that complaint didn’t really merit a response. I’m the happiest grass fed beef customer in the world.  But I’m terrible at cooking steaks. I like bony and fatty cuts of beef that you can stew for hours. Anyhow, I guess I’ll get the hang of it. This little round steak defrosted in the 10 minutes it took me to chop the greens and mushrooms and put the other things away. Here’s what I know about cooking steaks. You want the pan, grill pan or grill nice and hot when you put the steak on. The juice will run out of a steak if you heat it up slowly. I rubbed the steak down with a clove of garlic, and fried it on medium high for about 10 minutes on each side. Nothing fancy. I can’t call this a recipe. It’s putting a steak in a pan.  It was a stretch for me to call the greens and mushrooms “recipes”. I actually dislike the whole concept of a recipe. I think it is better to learn about each food item so you know how to cook whatever shows up in your veggie box or fridge. Most recipes really have way too many ingredients. They intimidate people. You have to cook more for yourself when you commit to eating locally sourced food, or avoiding commercial processed food. That’s why I simplify everything as much as possible. My whole dinner consisted of turnip greens, mustard greens, olive oil, mushrooms, butter, steak, sea salt and pepper. It was phenomenal. It took 15 minutes, and was cleaned up in 8 minutes. It cost me $3.50.  Plus I got some cooking done for the next day. I eat eggs every day for breakfast. I was going to have the greens in an omelet one day, and the mushrooms on another day, but I cracked and ate them both this morning. Thank you Farm Fresh!

A few more tips. I didn’t get any arugula, but last year when the arugula was going nuts in the garden, I ate my scrambled eggs on a bed of raw arugula every day.

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Rhubarb is one of my favorite ingredients. It is really good for adding the “sour” to any sweet and sour recipe. A tiny piece can give a soup a real zing. There’s more to rhubarb than pie.

I don’t know what to do with the turnips yet. Or the lettuce. I actually really don’t like salad. Yes, that is correct, the public health major produce advocate does not like salad.

And this is the banana pudding recipe I made for the Farm Fresh volunteer picnic. I kept hunting for recipes until I found one that did not call for separating the eggs.  I left out the cookies too. I think I cut the sugar in half. I never follow recipes.

We’ll See You At Armory Park

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May 29th, from 3:30 pm until dusk, the Armory Market will open! This has been a long awaited market, and we’ve got some new tricks, new vendors, and to top it all off- our second annual Seafood Throwdown!

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Working in partnership with the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance and Slow Fish International the Seafood Throwdown works to raise awareness of what is considered local and plentiful in our area, as well as raising awareness about the deliciousness of under-appreciated, overlooked species. Two local chefs will go head to head cooking a mystery seafood to be unveiled at the market. They will then receive $25 each to buy supplementary ingredients at the market, and will have one hour to cook for three judges.

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Judges this year will be Sean Larkin, head of the Providence Kickball League and co-founder of Revival Brewery; John Schenck, publisher at Edible Rhody; Patrick McEvoy, member of the West Broadway Neighborhood Association and Katie Eagan of Eating with the Ecosystem.

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Chefs will be judged on the taste of the dish, originality, and using the whole animal. Tastes will be available, but limited! Seafood vendors and fishermen and women including Katie Eagan, Phil Russo, and Walrus and Carpenter Oyster Farm will be at the market with plenty of fresh catches on hand. Peter Gobin of Mijos Tacos and Colin Sepko of Julians will be competing at the opening of our 2014 market!

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2014 Armory Park Vendors

imageWe have a wide variety of market favorites at the Armory Market this summer, including returning vendors such as The Coffee Guy, Little City Growers Co-op (Red Planet Vegetables, SCLT City Farm, Sidewalk Ends Farm, Front Step Farm, Florence and Manton Farm), Barden Family Orchard, the Great Harvest Bread Company, Hill Orchards, Salisbury Farm, PV Farmstand, African Alliance Growers, Mijos Tacos, RI Roots Farm, Farm Fresh Co./Harvest Kitchen and Rocket Fine Street Food.

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New vendors include the RI Mushroom Company, Tricycle Ice Cream, Crispy Greens Farm, Baffoni’s Poultry Farm, the Humble Pie Company, Green Jars, and Noble Knots.

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The Armory Market accepts debit, credit, and ebt cards at the FFRI Welcome Table. For those shopping with an EBT card, you can receive a 40% bonus through FFRI’s Bonus Bucks program.

A free nutrition education program, Healthy Foods, Healthy Families, will start at the market in July.

What Success Looks Like at Harvest Kitchen

On the anniversary of Harvest Kitchen’s first year in the Pawtucket Avenue Kitchen, an expansion made possible with your support, we wanted to re-connect to talk about success.

At Harvest Kitchen, success is empowered youth. 

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In 2013, 20 youth graduated from our training program, and 15 went on to internships at kitchens, businesses, and non-profits throughout Providence. A few returned as teacher’s aids for the next class of students. All youth worked at farmers markets selling the products they made by hand in the new kitchen. With an office and job training center right at the kitchen, we have also been able to serve returning alumnae in their continuing quest for growth and meaningful employment. Our doors are never really closed.   

At Harvest Kitchen, success is full jars.

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Big jars and small jars, and bags, and loaf pans, and frozen quart-sized containers. With the added capacity of our new kitchen, and the consistency of having an office next to the stove, we’ve been able to do some truly amazing things. Our gross sales total for all of 2012 was just over $20,000. For 2013, that number was $47,000! We’ve added production sessions 3 days a week to make more product than ever, and we’ve hired a Harvest Kitchen alumnus to our permanent Retail Sales Team.  On top of all that, the products have never tasted better! 

At Harvest Kitchen, success is new connections.

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With a permanent, on-site classroom/dining room in our new space, we now are able to connect with the community in ways we never imagined before.  In 2013 we made a lot of friends and forged numerous great partnerships.  Recently, The Food Project, a youth empowerment and engagement non-profit from Boston, came for a visit. Together, we cooked a meal, made applesauce, and our youth participated in one of the youth-facilitated food justice workshops that have given The Food Project its reputation and renown. Our network grows and grows with the space to make it happen. 
 
 At Harvest Kitchen, success is a crowded kitchen.
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 With the kitchen as our resource, and our knowledge as currency, we’ve become an important contact and incubator for a variety of small food businesses wishing to grow their operations. We rent out our certified kitchen in our off-hours, sharing our capacity with others as they seek to contribute to our food system and local economy. 
 
What’s up next?
This year, the Harvest Kitchen is partnering up with the Rhode Island Farm to School Program to test lightly processed and frozen local food options for school cafeterias across state. You’ll also be able to find us selling our products at more markets across the state. We’re hungrier than ever to keep the momentum going! 

  

Help us to keep building this success:

Please donate today. 


Thank you, 
Ryan, Jen, Claudia, Osbert, John, Billy, Hans, Lori, Kevin, Mike, Leanne 
Sheri, Jesse & the Farm Fresh Team

Harvest Kitchen at PV Farmstand

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      On Thursday, March 24th the Harvest Kitchen crew took a trip to PV Farmstand in North Scituate, RI. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for a farm visit. Farmer Frank Martinelli graciously gave us a tour of his amazing farm where his animals are free range and grass and grain fed. For some of our students, it was their first time on an animal farm, while others had been to similar ones in their home countries of Italy and Cape Verde. Frank takes great care of his animals and it shows especially in the quality of products he sells. It was so cool to be amongst pigs, horses, chickens, lamb and sheep. Frank even let us play with his 5 Great Danes at the end of the tour. It was certainly an unforgettable experience.

imageThe guys petting Candace the pony

imageChickens having a feast

imageMomma pig feeding her piglets

imagesheep posing for the paparazzi

imagePV Farmstand King of Boar

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imagewhat’s that smell? That my friend is the sweet smell of manure

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imageLucy enjoying a belly rub, she’s the sweetest

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Harvest Kitchen at Daniele Inc.

On Thursday, May 8th, we took a drive with the help of John Scott to beautiful Pascoag, RI. Many of the students, including myself, had never been up that way and the scenic route through Burrillville and Pascoag was quite beautiful and serene. It was certainly nice to get out of the city for a bit. We visited Daniele, Inc charcuterie factory where we received an amazing tour by the charismatic Davide Dukcevich. We got to see lots of salted cured pork hind legs that were becoming prosciutto and learned about the ancient tradition of dry curing meat.

There was definitely a distinct aroma that filled the factory and it changed with every room we entered where the prosciutto had been aging for longer time. David explained the process of feeling the prosciutto to know when it is ready to eat, which takes skill and experience. There were some prosciutto with mold, which Davide explained is like that of the blue cheese, they encourage it because it gives a richer taste that many love.

We also got to see sopressata which is a dry sausage and capocollo which is meat from the head/neck/shoulder region of the pig. Best of all we got to go home with some delicious treats. A big thank you to Davide for sharing his passion and knowledge about dry curing meat and for being a  fan of our Harvest Kitchen products. He particularly loved our stewed tomatoes, which he said went perfectly with pancetta, a great combo of sweet and salty.

The 2014 Local Food Fest celebration is set for August 5th, and will be an evening celebrating Rhode Island farmers, fishermen and food artisans. The event features two dozen local farmers and producers, teamed up with chefs from Castle Hill, Newport Restaurant Group and ten more restaurants throughout Rhode Island. There will also be samplings of local wines, beers, live music, a photo booth and a silent auction.

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Thank you to volunteers Alex Braunstein and Phoebe Neel for photos!

Please join us for food, drink, music and more, all on the lawn of the beautiful Castle Hill overlooking the east passage of Narragansett Bay.

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In previous years, we have had chefs from restaurants such as Tallulah on Thames, Gracies, Local 121, New Rivers and Thames Street Kitchen.

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Each restaurant is paired with a local farm to create a dish especially for and only available at the Food Fest. Wishing Stone, Schartner Farms, Farming Turtles, Blackbird Farms and Pat’s Pastured were all present at last years festivities.

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The combinations- and flavors- are incredible, as is the chance to meet the farms and producers that directly benefit from Farm Fresh’s programs in Rhode Island.

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So bring the whole family! We don’t mean to brag, but tickets sell out quickly for this event. Plan ahead and purchase tickets for the event, preview, or send your regrets and consider donating all here on the Farm Fresh events page.

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We’ll see you August 5th, 2014!

Volunteer Appreciation

Since 1974, April has been a time where volunteers and dedicated community members are recognized for their contribution and service. Before the month is over, Farm Fresh wanted to take the opportunity to recognize and thank some recent volunteers who have contributed to our organization so far this year.
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Staff, volunteers and interns on a Veggie Box Packline. Thank you Maria Paz Alemenara for photo!

Madeleine, Iona and Haley are volunteers at our farmers market, and have been instrumental with welcoming shoppers to the Pawtucket Winter Market, answering questions, and running the debit/credit/EBT Farm Fresh token exchange. Ziggy, Susan and Kiri are welcome helpers on the early morning Market Mobile and Veggie Box packlines, working along with our staff and interns to get local produce and meats out to restaurants, grocery stores, and Veggie Box subscribers. Marcy has become a packline regular, as well as linking up with Harvest Kitchen this spring to give a health talk on stress management to students and staff, and helping with nutrition education at the summer markets.

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Welcome desk at Farm Fresh summer market

If you are interested in volunteering with Farm Fresh RI, we are always looking for more volunteers to join our team! It’s a great way to meet people, learn about seasonal produce, and give back to the community- all while helping further our mission as a healthy food hub. Our volunteer application is available online and we accept volunteers year-round.

We polled our volunteers recently to get some feedback on what it’s like to work with us, and here’s what they had to say!

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Marcy

What is your favorite part about volunteering?

I really enjoy meeting other folks who are passionate about local food and its sustainability. I also enjoy getting my hands dirty and the physical activity involved.

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Kiri

I joined the Thursday morning Market Mobile pack-line team in February. We assemble the orders for local restaurants, small independent grocery stores, co-ops, the Brown market shares program, etc. Basically, we start at 5:30 a.m. with several rooms full of fresh dairy/produce/dry goods and a stack of order sheets. We run around pulling things off the shelves and packing them for the delivery trucks, and by around 9 a.m. the shelves are empty (or we have a puzzle to solve: why is this box of borage blossoms still here?) I have too many favorite [things about volunteering]! Solving organizational puzzles, getting an advance look at what The Grange or Birch will have on their menu, learning to distinguish among 15 kinds of edible flowers, seeing something new on the shelves each week as spring approaches (baby turnips!), slinging 20-pound bags of parsnips, and spending time with other people who love local food and are functional before 6 a.m.

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Susan is a market mobile and veggie box volunteer whose claim to fame is winning Humble Pie’s 1st Annual Pie Eating Competition with her son back in March of this year. She is a antiques dealer who lives in Rhode Island and travels to New York City every weekend to sell at trade shows and flea markets, including the Brooklyn Flea. When she’s not treasure hunting, doing homework, or cooking a locally sourced meal, she likes to play country songs on her guitar and ukulele.

Ziggy has been volunteering at Farm Fresh for about 9 months total. He says that his strangest volunteer experience has been the unexpected joy that comes with placing vegetables in boxes, and that he really enjoys chatting with and learning from the other volunteers, who are a great group of like minded people. He also let us in on his favorite Rhode Island-produced food, anything from Fox Point Pickling Co., or oysters, all day long!

Iona is a markets volunteer, which mean that since February she has been with us at the Saturday winter markets. She says that she likes interacting with people all morning long and being around fresh, local food.

Haley is also a volunteer at the markets, and says that her favorite part about volunteering is interacting with the farming community, and the conversations that are hard to find anywhere else.

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 Madeleine volunteers at the tables at markets, and says that her favorite part about volunteering with Farm Fresh is getting a chance to talk with other volunteers, customers and vendors.  “I’ve yet to see someone genuinely unhappy to be at the farmers market—everyone is all smiles and it is nice when you begin to recognize people. The kids are always a hoot, especially when there is live music and they can’t seem to stop dancing.” When asked why volunteer, Madeleine told us that volunteering at the Market is “a very fun, simple and consistent way to become invested in the socio-economic physical, mental and environmental health of our community.”

We couldn’t agree more- thank you so much to all of our volunteers who help us to do the work we do for Rhode Island!

A Local Bake-Off

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The unveiling of the Bake Off

When it comes to preparing local food, there can be a lot of pressure to make something healthy. But leafy greens aren’t the only way to incorporate local food into your routine. With summer coming and more fruit coming in to season, we decided to hold a spring bake-off in our offices to try out some new recipes with foods offered at our farmers markets and on Market Mobile.

A bake-off brings people together around food- whether it’s at work, church or any other gathering. A theme is often a good idea to help encourage people to try new things, and we decided to stick close to home- any Rhode Island product available at the winter farmers market or through our Market Mobile ordering system was fair game! This opened us up to use Maine Grains flour and oats, eggs from local farmers, Rhody Fresh butter and cream, frozen berries from Schartner Farms last season, carrots, and jams and preserves hearkening back to last summer.

Trying new recipes can be daunting…but really it’s all about how you “market” it to your friends and family. Granola bars fell apart? Voila- help yourself to some of my patented granola candy. Pia once made apple muffins that were delicious, but small, lumpy and chewy. After propping a note up next to them that read “Apple Dumplings” people told her that they were the best apple dumplings they had ever eaten! Working with different ingredients, especially local ones, can change your recipe’s outcome a bit, but we think that it’s all for the better. Here are some of our experiments and family recipes to share!


Here are some of the goodies, with recipes and photos attached.

Chaos Carrot Cake *Gluten Free!

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Kim’s gluten free carrot cake was gone before a picture could be taken!

1/2 cup canola oil, plus canola oil spray for the pan

3 eggs from Little Rhody Farms in Foster, RI

1 cup + 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1 cup + 2 Tablespoons almond meal

1 cup + 2 tablespoons grated carrots from Schartner Farm in Exeter, RI

1 Tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup crystallized ginger

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8’ springform cake pan with parchment paper. Coat the sides with a sheen of canola oil or spray.

Mix sugar and oil in a large bowl and add eggs, one at a time, mixing to combine. Stir in almond meal, carrots, spices, raisins, ginger and salt.

Pour mixture into the cake pan. Level batter with a spoon if necessary. Bake for 1 hour or until top is golden brown and firm to the touch.

Allow to cool before removing from the pan to frost serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces whipped cream cheese, softened

4 Tablespoons salted butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place softened, room temperature cream cheese in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat on medium speed, gradually adding butter until smooth and well blended.

Sift in confectioners sugar, and continue beating until smooth.Add vanilla and mix to combine for another 30 seconds.
Load frosting into a piping bag and swirl onto carrot cake in a vortex swirl, starting in the middle of the cake and working your way out to the edges

Rye’s Famous Granola Bars adapted from inspiredtaste.net

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The last bites of Rye’s Famous Granola Bars by our Bakin’ Angel

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups (230 grams) old fashioned rolled oats from Maine Grains in Skohegan, Maine

1/2 cup (80 grams) whole almonds, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup (113 grams) maple syrup from Bats of Bedlam farm in Chaplin, CT

1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup (50 grams) packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (60 grams) dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (67 grams) mini chocolate chips

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom and sides of a 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil. Then lightly oil or spray with cooking spray.

Toast Oats and Nuts

Add oats and almonds to a small baking sheet then bake 5 minutes, stir and bake another 3 to 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Transfer to a large bowl.

Prepare Granola Bars

Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and the salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.

Pour butter mixture in to bowl with toasted oats and almonds. Mix well. Let cool about 5 minutes then add cranberries and a 1/4 cup of the mini chocolate chips. Stir to combine. (The chocolate chips will most likely melt a little. This is fine, they turn into glue and help to hold the bars together).

Transfer oat mixture to lined pan then use a rubber spatula or damp finger tips to firmly press the mixture into the pan. (Press hard here, this way the bars will stay together once cooled and cut — We press for about one minute to be extra safe).

Scatter remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips over pressed granola mixture then use a rubber spatula to gently press them into the top. Cover then refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Remove block of granola mixture from pan then peel away aluminum foil. Cut into 12 bars.

Store bars in an airtight container for up to one week. For the softest bars, keep at room temperature. For slightly harder bars, store in the fridge.

Chocolate Chip Crisp-wiches adapted from Minimalist Baker

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A collage of the chipwich process, thanks Mikayla!

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg from Baffoni’s Farms in Johnston, RI

1 cup + 2 Tbsp gluten free baking mix*

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Using a mixer, cream butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl.

Add egg and vanilla and beat again until well combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed.

Add gluten free baking mix in two batches and mix again. It won’t be so thick that you can’t continue mixing it, but it should appear “doughy.”

Stir in chocolate chips, cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4-6 hours until thoroughly chilled. You should be able to roll the dough into balls before baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once chilled, scoop out rounded Tablespoon amounts of dough, roll them into balls and place them 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are just slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to several days. Freezer for longer term storage. (They taste just as good the 2nd and 3rd day as they hold their texture/flavor well.)

Nutella Ganache (for the middle of the crispwich-sandwich)

1 1/2 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread

1 cup chocolate chips

2 Tablespoons heavy cream from Rhody Fresh in Foster, RI

Mix all ingredients together slowly over a double boiler on the stovetop, set aside and let cool before pressing together between the chipwich!

Berry Scones adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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The most important part of the scones! Schartner Farms berries

Makes 12 to 16, depending on how you cut them

2 3/4 cup pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder*
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces of butter, in 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup fruit, I used Schartner Farms blueberries & strawberries
3/4 cup buttermilk or light cream from Rhody Fresh in Foster, RI

Turbinado or sanding sugar for sprinkling (optional, not in the original recipe)

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place cubed butter in freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, measure other ingredients (except buttermilk and fruit) and mix in the bowl of a food processor.

Add butter to processor bowl and mix until the butter and flour mixture are the texture of coarse cornmeal. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer and add buttermilk and fruit, mixing on the lowest speed until the dough just comes together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently a couple times. Roll dough out to approximately one-inch thickness and cut into squares. Cut those squares again on the diagonal, creating triangles. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if you’re using it.

Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned.

Crumbly Oatbars with Blueberry and Raspberry Jam adapted from allrecipes.com

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A small view of the spread including Oat Bars, Scones, and Chipwiches

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, Hannah also used blueberry jam from Schartners Farm in Exeter, RI           

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 8 inch square pan, and line with greased foil.

Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and rolled oats. Rub in the butter using your hands or a pastry blender to form a crumbly mixture. Press 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the jam to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the jam.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

We hope you enjoy these recipes at your next bake-off!

Spring in bloom at Indie Growers

by Pia Peterson for Farm Fresh RI

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An array of blossoms ready to be packaged at Indie Growers

        Indie Growers, based in Bristol, RI, is owned and operated by Lee Ann Freitas. Freitas describes Indie Growers as a “nano-farm” and explains that. “I needed a term that defined what I’m doing, both nano-scale farming and nano-scale products. I don’t have space to grow gargantuan 3-lb heads of broccoli. It’s important that the scale of what I grow match the restaurants that I work with.  Most are small, which fits perfectly with what I am able to produce.” Lee Ann says that the term ‘small farmer’ is used a lot these days, but it’s all relative to where the farm is and whether that small farm is 1, 10 or 1000 acres. A visit to Indie Growers quickly illustrates that Indie Growers focus is just as unique, colorful and multifaceted as Lee Ann herself.

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Arugula blossoms at Indie Growers

         Indie Growers operates at multiple locations in Bristol- their winter home is a 4,590 sq. ft greenhouse at Mount Hope Farm. In the summer, they branch out to three different spaces at Stony Hedge Farm, Weetamoe Farm, and a high-tunnel at the Freitas residence. All of these add up to about an acre on which Lee Ann grows her specialty items. With such a small space, she maintains that her crops be high-yield, unique, and multi-use.

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The greenhouse and volunteers at Mount Hope Farm 

          Lee Ann, a native of Rhode Island, has a background in horticulture and says that she started out on the “pretty side of things,” with landscape plants and landscape design. Now she enjoys going out to eat and seeing how the plates were  created, “It’s an art form- architectural design on a plate, what chefs do.”

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A volunteer picks blooms in the greenhouse

             Lee Ann has a degree in horticulture and graduate work in soil ecology, yet when she graduated, she did not head straight to farming. Lee Ann worked in the nonprofit sector with her work centered on helping people with asthma. She assisted families with asthma to decrease environmental triggers and change behaviors that might cause asthmatic episodes. When she started farming, she knew she had a lot to learn. Her previous greenhouse experience hadn’t prepared her for the challenges of growing vegetables in the field. It was difficult at first, and continues to be a learning experience, says Freitas. “It whups my butt every season!” But she attributes it all to the “beauty and addiction of farming- if you’re not learning about the soil, you’re learning about the microcosm of what is going on with each plant, each row of broccoli.”

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Greenhouse starts

            Restaurants reach out to Indie Growers asking for specific edible flowers and other plants. “I have a very specific list of folks I work with. I don’t have room to grow a thousand squash and find places to buy them, in order for me to succeed, I need to know exactly how much of each vegetable to grow for each chef.” In the past people have reached out and asked Lee Ann to plant specific varieties such as Armenian cucumbers, charantais melons, red carrots, papalo and other varieties. With her greenhouse bursting with smells and color, Lee Ann isn’t ready to reveal all of the unique varieties of veggies and herbs she grows. She says that she loves the mystery that her products allow her to imbue in things such as garnish boxes, “I want to surprise chefs, in a positive way, with the different varieties of edibles I send them. It’s part of the gratification of farming- it’s like sending out presents every week!”

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Packing a box of blooms   

           Aside from selling to restaurants through Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s Market Mobile, Lee Ann also sells at Mt. Hope Farmer’s market in Bristol, RI and does home delivery through her new produce delivery system, Indie-a-Go-Go. She enjoys making things for people to try at the farmers markets, saying that people are often unsure with what to do with a green like frisèe. Working with interns from Johnson and Wales University and volunteers help her create simple, fast, versatile recipes to sample each week to help her customers increase ways of cooking and using veggies. “Frisèe salad with cranberries and walnuts is super easy, and delish-” Lee Ann says -“you can use the salad in a variety of ways, by adding bacon and a poached egg for breakfast, or add goat cheese, or serve it with fish for dinner.” She also receives consistent interest in her blossom salads, created in mason jars and ready to eat, suggesting that they are “a great salad for people to experiment with and or to use as gifts.”

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Nastertiums in bloom

    On farming and her volunteers, Lee Ann is effusive with gratitude. “I wouldn’t be here without my volunteers, I am so grateful to them. I am always looking for help and anyone is welcome!” Lee Ann says that people end up coming on their own after hearing about Indie Growers via word of mouth or a farmers market, and that they often stay and become part of her extended family. She believes that you should not only support your farmer, but really get to know them. Most farmers are so passionate about what they do. There are big odds every day to grow their crops and get it to your plate- and they love to talk about that process.

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    Next time you see Lee Ann at a market, ask her about her farm, her blossoms, her volunteers, or her soil composition! No question (or farm!) is ever too small.

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The Bats and The Bees

by Pia Peterson for Farm Fresh RI

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Bats of Bedlam sugarhouse, crankin’ out the good stuff!

Driving through the wooded areas of New England this time of year, you might pass a small structure in the trees, a shack really, with steam pouring from its windows and roof. Is that a small barn on fire? Nope- that’s just a sugar shack in the midst of syrup season. Maple syrup is one of the more magical components of our local food system. The sugaring process, the woods in winter, and the unique flavor are all part of an experience and should be truly appreciated when we drown our waffles in the morning.

We talked to Bob Dubos of Bats of Bedlam syrup near the end of this sugaring season; he and Pat were on their ninth straight day of boiling and he sounded happy to take a breather. His morning routine includes checking the holding tanks in three different sugar bushes in Chaplin, CT. The Dubos’ live on 13 ½ acres in Chaplin and have 440 taps in trees. They have another sugarbush (a stand of sugar maples that grow close together, making it ideal for tapping) down the road, where they lease 47 acres with 1,000 taps, and a third stand on land belonging to a friend with 110 taps.

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Look closely- there’s taplines in them there woods!

Most sugaring today is done with pipelines and vacuum pumps instead of the old metal bucket and hook taps; the vacuum pumps facilitate sap moving along the lines and reduce the atmospheric pressure at the tap hole for the sap to flow. The pipelines keep the sap a lot cleaner, and sap emerging from the taphole is sterile. Upon contact with the air, the sap begins to deteriorate.  Within this closed system microbes develop at a slower pace and the system remains free of insects. At the end of the season the taps are removed, and the cambium (inner bark) grows a layer right over the tiny hole; the tree essentially begins to heal itself.

After collecting the sap, either by pipeline on the Dubos’ land or by truck pumped from the two remote sites, the sap is placed in a 1,200 gallon holding tank. From there it is put through a reverse osmosis machine (RO) that takes ¾ of the water out of the sap. In the RO machine, the sugar content of the sap will go from 1.5-2% to 8% before it enters the wood-fired evaporator. Real maple syrup in all its thick, concentrated goodness usually measures in at a minimum of 66% sugar.

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The evaporator working, boiling all the water out of the sap

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Pat Dubos and the fuel for the fire- wood to burn for the evaporator

An interesting fact, for those concerned about levels of sugar consumption, is that maple syrup contains fewer calories than an equal amount of white sugar or honey. It also contains naturally occurring nutrients and minerals not found in other sweeteners as well as antioxidants. A recent study by URI scientist Navindra Seeram went global when he discovered 54 beneficial compounds in maple syrup, five of which had never been seen in nature before. In Canada some syrupers sell sap right out of the tree as a nutritional beverage, referring to it as “nature’s Gatorade.” For the moment, however, the Dubos’ stick to the good stuff.

The season is wrapping up now in early April, as sugar maple trees only produce tappable sap when the syrup “runs,” meaning that it goes from the roots to the branches of the crown and back again. This occurs during a time of year where the nights are still below freezing but the daytime temperatures rise above 32 degrees F. If the sap stayed in the branches during the freezing nights, the water in the cells would expand and they would burst. This year the Dubos’ collected 30,000 gallons of sap, for production so far of 450 gallons of maple syrup. They have a small pond outside the back of the sugar house, and Bob says that when you can hear the wood frogs when you step out the back, that is a pretty good indication of the season winding down.

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A view through the window of syrups and syrupers

The Dubos’ interest with syrup is professional- Bob is the Vice President of the Maple Syrup Producers Association of Connecticut, with close to 200 paid members. Every year Bob & Pat attend a joint conference on syrup. This meeting of the North American Maple Syrup Council (made up mostly of producers) and the International Maple Syrup Institute (mostly middlemen who sell huge volumes of syrup to grocery stores around the world) is held in annually in a different state or Canadian province where maple syrup is produced.  Connecticut hosted in 2012; this October the meetings will be in Nova Scotia. There is a contest that goes on during the conference where syrupers from all over can submit samples of their syrup to be judged and ranked, and yes, there are prizes and tastings. Bob says that one year after the judging, they held a giant pancake breakfast with the syrups from the contestants for sampling; each one had a different taste. The differences are mostly due to the environment of the sugarbush- the soil, the soil microbes, and the weather.

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Pat & Bob Dubos

The Dubos’ seem to love what they do, as Bob tells tales of tromping through the snow to get at taps. He is a biologist by profession, a vertebrate zoologist, and previously a manager of the vertebrate scientific collections at UCONN. Of his current life, he says: “It’s the best time to be outside, in winter. You hear the rebirth of the world every spring. The redwing blackbirds come in; you’re watching the robins move through. If you’re not there to see it, you miss it, and that’s where the real roots are.”

Recipes from Pat Dubos

MAPLE GRANOLA

Mix in a roasting pan:

4 C  Rolled Oats (Oatmeal)

2 C Wheat Germ (not toasted)

1 C  Sunflower Seeds

½ - 1 C  Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Blend together and add to above stirring to evenly distribute:

½ C Canola Oil

½ C Maple Syrup

2 Tbsp Vanilla

Toast in 325 degree oven, occasionally stirring to avoid sticking, until mixture seems dry and lightly toasted (usually about ½ hr). 

When cool, add some dried fruit. Store in

an air tight container.  It’s great sprinkled

on yogurt.

MAPLE BASIL MUSTARD

Combine in food processor/blender:

1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds

2 Tbsp dry mustard

½ cup water.

Blend 30-60 seconds.  Scrape into bowl.  Leave uncovered for at least 2 hrs. to release bitter components.  Return to food processor.

Add:

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup maple syrup, ¾ tsp salt,

1 tsp dried basil.  Process til slightly smooth.  Scrape into double boler.  Simmer ten minutes stirring often.  Cool.  Taste.  Add seasonings to taste.

(Maple Syrup Cookbook, Ken Haedrich, Storey Books, N. Adams, MA)

MAPLE FUDGE

Combine:  2 cup granulated sugar,

1 cup maple syrup, ½ cup light cream,

2 Tabsp butter.  Cook while stirring to 238 degrees,  Cool to 110 degrees.

Beat with wooden spoon til it begins to set.

Press quickly into buttered 8 inch buttered square pan.  Cut into squares when firm.