It couldn’t have been a more perfect day for a winter farmers’ market in Hillsdale yesterday. The last tendrils of fog were just clearing and the sun chased away the damp cold. But it wasn’t just the sun warming our hands—my husband and I discovered the steaming soups that chef Kathryn Yeomans was serving at the Farmer’s Feast booth. She has paired up with Springwater Farms and its amazing variety of mushrooms for a whole new market experience which she introduces on her blog:
Throughout the winter, at Portland and Hillsdale Farmers’ Markets, the Springwater Farm booth adds a new dimension to their farmstand. Alongside the array of wild & cultivated mushrooms for sale, Springwater Farm will serve a weekly selection of ready-to-eat breakfast & lunch fare. Chef Kathryn Yeomans of The Farmer’s Feast will take what is fresh & abundant on the farm (& in the forest), and complement these ingredients with eggs, cheese, bread, & vegetables from the Farmers’ Market winter harvest to give shoppers a distinctive dining experience.
And may I just say, the resulting soups are simply delicious. My husband and I tried the Minestrone which was warm and hearty with vegetables, beans, kale, and a zesty broth. The mushroom miso pairs the warmth and healing of miso broth with delicate shitake mushrooms and all sorts of other magical local ingredients. (You can find the recipe for this soup on Kathryn’s blog.) Standing in the sun and sipping those soups was the highlight of my day. Kathryn and Springwater Farms also nourish market goers at the new Portland winter Farmers Market at Shemanski Park.
After reveling in lunch, we got down to business with our shopping. And what a fun and informative experience that is at the farmers’ market. Each stand is a visual treat with all the colors of the winter vegetables, not to mention the friendly faces of the vendors and market goers. And in addition, we get to talk with the farmers about their produce and meats. Imagine a carrot like this from Sun Gold Farm at the grocery store.
And then, imagine learning about why these sweet carrots grow in such unique shapes from the very person who tills the earth to produce them. Here, at the market, we get to go to the source of our food—grown close by on sustainable farms by people who love what they do and are proud to offer fresh and unique food. The connection between grower and consumer is a rare thing in these days of mass produced foods, and I feel lucky to be able to know where my food is grown and how it’s produced.
At the Ayers Creek Farm booth, while I was paying for another luscious jam, I learned from Anthony that the red current jam didn’t set quite as firm as usual. It might have been because of a late harvest, he told me while he was weighing my bag of sweet potatoes and horseradish root. He and his wife Carol don’t add pectins into their organic jams, so the consistency can vary. I didn’t know that even though my mother made jam all her life and is quite the expert. Now that she is unable to make her own, she is eagerly awaiting the red current jam that I’ll be toting over on the next visit. Of course, first I had to take a taste, and wow–it was like a burst of summer on my tastebuds! Now I’m wondering how much of that jar is going to make it to my mom’s house.
We also stocked up on grass fed beef and lamb from Meadow Harvest . They raise their animals on their sustainable farm in Nehalem where they use rotational grazing. I’m looking forward to tasting the lamb in one of my husband’s awesome lamb curries, and my son is always happy to see steaks in the freezer.
And last but not least we added greens and potatoes to our bags from Gathering Together Farms. At dinner I discovered that the kale was the sweetest I’ve ever tasted, and once again it makes me aware how good food straight from the farm tastes. Produce from the big grocery stores can’t even compare. Thank you to all our local farmers who bring us real food!