Food Sovereignty….

….just a fancy way to say “Start saving your seeds!”

 

Food sovereignty” is the term promoted by a group called Via Campesina which believes that the people who grow and sell and consume food products should also be the people who control how food is grown and sold, not corporations, market institutions, seed companies or even government agencies.

It is from this group that many of our food movements have developed. One branch of this effort is the promotion of seed saving and seed exchanges. Seed exchanges or seed swaps are one of the easiest ways to learn about heirloom seeds, regional seeds and seed saving techniques. And we’re hosting one right here in Jackson County this coming Saturday, Feb. 11th, at the Jackson County Farmers Market at The Community Table. You don’t want to miss it!

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We’ll have lots of folks on hand to guide you through the process of selecting seeds for your garden that you can save including Adam Bigelow of Cullowhee Community Garden and Dr. Jim Veteto, WCU Department of Anthropology, as well as Ron Arps, Vegenui Gardens. According to the WCU faculty website, Veteto’s work with heirloom seeds is based at the Appalachian Institute for Mountain Studies, in Yancey County,that focuses on traditional and agro-ecological Southeastern farming techniques. Southern Seed Legacy, one of the main sustainability projects at AIMS, is led by Veteto to promote the use of heirloom seeds in farming activities and encourage seed trade between local farmers and gardeners. Bring your questions, bring any heirloom seeds you have that you would like to trade or swap. Don’t know what heirloom seeds are?  Good reason to join us and find out!

This Saturday is also the Seed Pickup day for those who ordered at the Market in January. Please be prepared to pick up your seeds between 10am and 1pm.

True independence starts in the garden. Let’s rise up and take back our food system….one seed at a time.

“Institutions do not save seeds. Humans with hearts do…”-Gary Nabhan

To learn more about food sovereignty, seed sovereignty and the Via Campesina movement here are some resources:

Food First! Food First’s analysis and educational resources support communities and social movements fighting for food justice and food sovereignty around the world. Food First gives you the tools to understand our global food system, and to build your local food movement from the ground up.

Via Campesina   La Via Campesina is the international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity. It strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.

Seed Savers Exchange  Seed Savers Exchange takes threats to biodiversity seriously. We maintain a collection of more than 20,000 heirloom and open-pollinated vegetable, herb, and plant varieties, including over 1,000 varieties of heritage apple trees.

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Time to plant (almost)

At least on paper and that requires some sorting through seed catalogues, a review of last year’s crops – successes and otherwise, a map of your garden so you can rotate the crops and a trip to the Jackson County Farmers Market on Jan. 14th for the annual Group Seed Order.*seed-catalogues

Each year, the Market sponsors a seed order day for our customers and friends to select from Fedco and Johnny’s Selected Seeds as well as order onion sets, organic seed potatoes, sweet potato slips and even some garden supplies. Because of the volume created by a bulk order, you get a great discount plus free shipping. What a deal! We may not get all the varieties available but everyone who orders will benefit from not paying the higher prices for individual packets. We have catalogues and folks there to help answer some of your questions as well. Plus what’s better than a trip to the Farmers Market to remind you of all the great produce you’ll be growing in just a few months.

Our Market also supports a seed bank, a truly subversive enterprise meant to ensure a consistent and sustainable supply of local, heirloom, staple seeds. Here’s the info from our seed saving mistress extraordinaire, Megan Eberly.

Dear Friends,

I am sure that many of you, like myself, have spent many winter afternoons in our warm and cozy houses dreaming of spring as we peruse our stack of seed catalogues and build fantasy gardens in our minds.  The variety is endless, and the large scale preservation of seed diversity stewarded by these company’s is vital (after all how many tomato varieties can one community consistently steward).

Our community is however lacking in local sources of staple seed.  Heirloom varieties adapted to local conditions of basic food crops could easily be maintained by a group of willing seed stewards.

I propose a Tuckaseegee Valley Seed Bank, which I will happily volunteer to organize.  Grain crops such as non-GMO corn, barley and other grains along with standards such as mountain half-runners, summer squash, beets, cushaws and candy roasters would be very beneficial to our local foodscape.

This could be as simple as saving a few pods from your normal crop and returning them to me. As coordinator I can help each steward choose a variety of seed to grow and replenish according to their skill level and available space.

If you are interested please contact me at meganeberly@gmail.com or come visit my table at the Glorious Jackson County Farmer’s Market.

Looking forward to working with you!

Megan Eberly

Orchard Slope Family Farmgarden_goodies

Come down to the Market and talk with Megan about how to participate in a seed saving bank throughout the season.  Don’t have a garden space? No problem! Jackson County has two amazing community gardens and you can learn about them as well this Saturday from Adam Bigelow, community garden manager for the Sylva and Cullowhee Community Gardens.

Spring is just around the corner….

Questions about the seed order? Contact Ron Arps: ronandcathy71@frontier.com

*NOTE: Seed pick up date is Feb. 11th at the Market. Onion sets and seed potatoes will be March 4; sweet potato slips will arrive May 6.

The Season of Betweens

Must say I was quite happy to be someplace untouched by Black Friday or Thanksgiving football this year. Now comes that strange time of ‘betweens’ dealing with the remnants of that over-bloated feast day and the over-bloat of consumerism. But at the Farmers Market, fortunately, our weekend markets continue to offer the great local food items and produce, crafts, herbs, and other items you’ve grown to know and love.  How’s that for a pleasant reality check after cyber Monday and taco Tuesday?

Still, the Market cannot resist entertaining the holiday season for two Saturdays in December when it changes itself into a “Holiday Bazaar.” We’d love to spend it with you. Find us at The Community Table building between 10am and 1pm on Decemcookie-decoratinber 10th and 17th for crafts, pottery, greeting cards, woolen creations, herbal treats, botanicals, Christmas spices and seasonings, honey and beeswax crafts, and great food items, meats and produce.

How about some cookies and hot cocoa to warm you up? Our Market Tasting and monthly fundraiser on the 10th will  provide you with a delicious gingerbread cookie (provided by Backwoods Bakery) and icing and decorations ready to be transformed into a work of art.

Or maybe just a reindeer.
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Whatever, it will be delicious AND your donation keeps the Market humming. Buy several…one to enjoy at the Market and some to take home.  Here are more cookie and hot drink ideas from our Market: a cup of Haversack Coffee and some Bliss Fudge; mulled cider spices from Pineapple Sage Herb Farm and, well, just about anything. And of course there is always that one elf  who just has to streamline the drinking and baking process. Try a hot cocoa cupcake  and we’ll see you at the Market.

Changes, changes

Join us this Saturday, October 29th as we celebrate our last outdoor market for this year with tastings, music, contests, costumes and the familiar faces of our vendors you’ve come to love! But fear not! We’re just moving over the bridge. This is JCFM’s 9th year as a year-round market and moves INDOORS on Nov. 5th to The Community Table Building on Central Street across from Poteet Park.

Winter Hours: 10am – 1pm

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 Same great vendors (and some new ones!) Same quality products!

Winter Market Schedule:

Every Saturday from 11/5 – 12/17/2016; 1/14 & 2/11/2017 & every Saturday in March, 2017

Our 2017 Outdoor Season begins the first Saturday in April.

Check our Facebook page and this website for upcoming events.  See you at the Market!

Did you know?

You can hear the voices of our region at Growing Local, a weekly audio series on Soundcloud about local food and farms in the Southern Appalachians. Sign on and learn more about the people in our region, the growers, the towns, the beauty and local foods, too.

Listen live on WNCW 88.7 each Monday at 8:45 a.m. or to all the archived tracks.

Produced by ASAP, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.

radio-local

And tune in to your Farmers Market each and every Saturday throughout the year. The summer outdoor season is closing down at Bridge Park on Oct. 29 when we will be moving to our winter quarters across the river at The Community Table building. Winter hours are 10-1pm. We’ll continue to provide quality, local produce, baked goods, hand crafts, herbs and botanicals so please join us there starting Nov. 5th!

October ate my garden…sigh

One morning, you look out over your garden and containers and swell with pride at all you managed to grow and harvest this season. In spite of pitiful rainfalls this summer, we’ve been harvesting a steady supply of  ripening tomatoes, peppers as they turn red, eggplant, chard and the expanding rows of fall crops in our low tunnel. It’s been such a delight to step outside with my produce basket and gather up those tasty offerings each day. And then, one day, it’s all gone. Not ‘critter ate’ gone. Just. Done. Dried up. Tired. It’s as if by moving from September to October you cross that invisible line of some sort that tells you garden season may be over…for this year at least.

So:  tomatoes all played out?  Here are some ideas for those tired and droopy plants. I know we just can’t stand the thought of waiting another 10 months for these lovelies, but just think: you now you have space for some winter crops.

There is still time to save seeds from the crops you have left. Here are some of the ways to save tomato seeds. Large seeds like pumpkins, butternut squash, etc., are easy. Remove the seeds and pulp from one of your finest, rinse and clean the pulp, spread out seeds on a plate or parchment paper and let dry completely. Then seal in a clean jar and keep cool till next season. Don’t forget to date and label.

This is a great site for learning how to save seeds. The Market also has several books on seed saving for you to browse at our  Information Booth. If you are a “Friend of the Market,” you may check them out from our library.

One food I experienced while teaching in Bulgaria several years ago was leutinitza or leutinitsa. It’s their idea of an end-of-the-season collaboration between the last tomatoes, roasted red peppers (Hungarian types,) roasted eggplant and a long simmer on the stove. OMG! I made a batch from a recipe gifted to me by one of my students handwritten by her grandmother and translated into English just for me. I guess you can say I use a ‘family secret recipe’ for my version. (And, NO, I’m not sharing.)  I will, however, offer a great video from Bulgaria of a couple making leutinitsa so you can see why it’s such a favorite with Bulgarians. Although time consuming, it is so worth it. Serve it on thick rye bread from Backwoods Bakery, of course, or with a slice of cheese or on eggs (farm fresh from our vendors) or any number of other ways. It’s so delicious and the flavors of all those roasted veggies is heavenly.

Got a favorite fall recipe you are willing to share? Send them in and we’ll post them on our website.

Saturday, October 8th is Octoberfest and our monthly fundraiser, Market Feast. Come down and enjoy Worley Farms bratwurst on Backwoods Bakery bread and then pick up a glass of home-town brewed ginger ‘ale’ from Innovation Brewing. It’s going to be another glorious day in the mountains at the Market and we hope to see you.

Afterwards, head up the Blue Ridge to enjoy October’s tapestry of leaves and see them at their peak. 

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Apples and Onion Relish

This tasty condiment was prepared for our monthly Market Feast on Saturday, Sept. 10th, and several of our customers asked for the recipe. The blend of onion and fruit lends itself to so many possibilities you will want to whip up several batches to combine with crackers and cheddar cheese, or goat cheese or cream cheese or try it on pork or brats or chicken. We served samples on basic white bread provided by Backwoods Bakery. This fall combo was a real hit with our Market goers. We think you’ll like it too!

Here’s the recipe from www.food.com.0237451_854x480

Our chefstress supreme, Jennie Ashlock, made some important variations to our recipe. We used apple cider vinegar instead of wine, no butter…only oil, and in one batch fresh thyme was used rather than cayenne. And about that cayenne: you can definitely cut the amount in half. We also suggest trying other herbs such as rosemary or perhaps sage. It’s a great recipe for experimentation. Enjoy and let us know how you liked it. Hey, send us a picture and any new ideas you have for this delicious paring.  We’ll pass them along.

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Thanks to Jennie and Joseph Nardello, our fabulous volunteer chefs and to Pineapple Sage, Pomme de Terre Farm, Bud’s Bees, Backwoods Bakery, Ron and Cathy Arp, for donating ingredients.

Next month is OctoberFest at the Market. What do these two have cooked up for us? Find out on October 8th.