Yesterday, I walked through a tree lot full of different types of Christmas trees and stopped here and there to enjoy the shapes, the needles, and most of all the smell of fresh fir trees. When I breathe in that fragrance, it reminds me of simple things–a walk in the woods, choosing a tree with the family (always accompanied by heated exchanges over which one is the very best), unwrapping cherished ornaments that are full of memories and laughing with the kids about the origins of some of the more unusual ones , cinnamon candles and Christmas music, Weihnachstkuchen baking, and the sweet taste of orange and hazelnut chocolates that sustain us through the season.
Oh yes, and the presents too. What would Christmas be without presents? It’s a deeply rooted tradition to want to give something to our friends and family, and I always love to find the perfect gift for that special someone. But it seems the emphasis on shopping has become more about quantity and buying just for the sake of having something, anything, to hand out as a present, and so we end up buying a lot of mass produced stuff that eventually just ends up in a landfill. And not only is it stressful (not to mention expensive) to buy a lot of stuff, our planet can’t sustain the consumption we’ve built into this holiday.
What to do, what to do? Well, you know I’m going to mention locally grown products as gifts…and you’re right! But what could be more wonderful than strolling through a market filled with a huge variety of locally grown items to choose from? Last Saturday, my husband and I spent the morning at the Portland Farmers Market where we tasted our way through all sorts of delicious foods and bought so much that we had to go back to the car to unload our bags and feed the meter so we could go back and shop some more. Yes, my feet and hands got tingly cold, but there was much cheer and color and festive banter among the many people who were shopping and selling their wares. There was also steaming hot peppermint and spearmint tea at the Seely Family Farm stand that warmed me right up. They sell their tea loose and also in cute little gift tins of tea bags.
And though a mess of greens is not exactly a gift for under the tree, what could be more beautiful than these from Spring Hill Organic Farm?
How about fresh supplies for baking? Garry’s Meadow Fresh milk from Lady-Lane Farm is so rich and creamy that our morning coffee has been transformed! You can also find their milk (in glass bottles!) at New Seasons Market.
For baking and for gift giving, try the organic hazelnuts from La Mancha Ranch and Orchard. These are the juiciest, freshest hazelnuts I’ve found yet, and they have bags of dark and milk chocolate covered nuts. Okay I just want to say, not sneaking into these bags has been a challenge of massive proportions. Next week, I’m buying some just for me!
This year, try something new and different for that special person: pepper jelly from Rose City Pepperheads. Of course, my husband picked out their hottest one, the Double Dare!
These are just a few of the many possibilities to be found from the winter farmers markets for your holiday cooking, baking, and gift giving. It’s a good place to slow down and connect with the people who grow our food, and to help keep our holiday sane and simple for us and for the good of the planet.
Next weekend, Dec. 17th and 18th, we have several markets to choose from:
and on Wednesdays: