Monday, 24 March 2014

Farmers markets for vegetables and education

On Friday we visited a lovely farmers market that has been running in Bexhill on Friday mornings for a year now.

With the Spring underway it seems like a good time of year to think about our food 'from farm to fork' as the expression goes.  In the last week we have therefore been sowing more vegetable seeds, visited a farm to see the lambs, and also been to the farmers market to connect with home grown produce available in season.

We are incredibly lucky to be able to get a huge variety of fruits and vegetables out of season at the supermarket, but there's also something really special about exploring the seasons through the local crops available at the farmers market.  You may even be converted to liking vegetables that you previously thought were flavourless - I never much liked Kale until I tried the Kale from the farmers market, a world away from the oversized bag of  bland, tough greens I had been buying at the supermarket.

The boys enjoyed sampling the different varieties of apples, pears and cheeses before we picked which ones to buy.  The apples were a big hit, the sheep and goat cheeses less so (although I would have bought the whole cheese stall if possible because they were extraordinary - creamy and flavourful with no goaty whiff).  The boys particularly enjoyed the big sticky cherry buns from the bakery stall.  It was an opportunity for new experiences for all of us, I am slightly ashamed to say I don't think I'd ever see a goose egg until we saw them on the meat stall on Friday.  Seriously big and a bit pricey we'll try them another day when I can think of what we would do with one.

When we got home with our two big bags of fruit and veg for under a tenner, we spread our bounty out to show Matt when he came home from work.  There was rather less still there when he did arrive due to small grazers working their way through the apples and greens.  While Ollie was waiting for Matt to come home he drew a few pages with selections of fruit and vegetables on each page.  He did this with no prompting from me, which is a nice way to see that the visit to the market fired his imagination and got his creative juices flowing.

After Matt got home and we had a gorgeous lunch of fresh market stall bread and our new cheese.  Then Matt and the boys set up their own market stall on the sofa.  The kids carried the produce through to the living room in bags and baskets then laid them out.  Next I got the call that price labels were needed, so I cut some rectangles of card and supplied them along with a pen.  Matt and Ollie decided on the prices and Ollie wrote out the cards.  Some of the produce was a bargain - 2p for apples - while other items were a tad expensive - £2083 for the spinach.

I was supposed to come and shop from the market, but the boys decided to go in another direction.  They stuffed a bag each with vegetables and scarpered to the hallway to sit and munch.  What was left of the Kale made it into a yummy kedgeree cooked by Matt later on for our dinner.

Supermarket deliveries make busy lives with young families easier, but it's nice to take a morning out to make the most of the different opportunities offered by farmers markets, also a way of keeping money flowing around the local economy, supporting small businesses, keeping traditional skills alive and reducing food miles.

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