Scoot Over Farmer’s Market!

Our two-year old loves to smell all the flowers at the Saratoga Farmer's Market!

Our two-year old loves to smell all the flowers at the Saratoga Farmer’s Market!

Every Saturday morning our family goes to the farmer’s market. We roll out of bed, munch on a light breakfast, gather our reusable bags and empty glass bottles, and head to the market, our eyes still gritty with sleep. It’s our family tradition. Our girls eagerly anticipate going to the market each week. They delight in choosing the fruits and vegetables for the week and later timidly ask for their special weekly treat from Miss Linda, one of our favorite vendors. Their excitement over seeing their favorite vegetables appear throughout the different seasons, like tomatoes or strawberries, explodes from their little bodies as they excitedly beg to eat “just one” cherry tomato, sweet pea or strawberry before we have even left our favorite farmer’s stand. In the summer, we typically get our items and settle down in a warm sunny spot to enjoy our weekly treats and maybe snitch a few veggies from what is supposed to be our weekly (not Saturday morning) supply of CSA veggies. We love our Saturday morning tradition. It works for our family. But, we know it’s not something that works for everyone.

We have shared at length about being a part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Essentially, we pay for our year’s supply of veggies (occasionally we get a few fruits too) in advance. This helps us because we do not have to budget for veggies each week and we get a discounted rate by buying everything in advance. It also helps our farm because they get a large sum of money from numerous CSA members, which they can then use to buy larger items for the farm and better budget/plan out their year. Most of the CSA’s around this area are designed to get picked up at a farmer’s market. There are several different markets in the Albany region. At the Saratoga Farmer’s Market, where we go, there are three or four farmers that offer a CSA option. As wonderful as it is to get veggies at a cheaper rate, it can be difficult for some to get to the market to get those veggies, especially when the market is only once or twice a week.

Thankfully, there are other options available to people who want to get fresh fruits and veggies that are non-GMO and locally grown. Often, especially in the summer time, farms have farm stands where they sell their crops. Additionally, some of the farms that offer CSA’s will let you pick up shares at their farm or at an alternate location. Often, just a quick email or phone call is all it takes to set it up.

Other services are cropping up around the country that deliver fresh crops directly from the farmer to you or to a set location that is not a farmer’s market. One such service is available here in the Albany region. It’s called, “Field Goods.” (Click here to access their website) Field Goods takes fresh crops from a variety of small local farms and distribute it as shares (small, standard and family-sized)  throughout our community. In addition to the usual fruit/veggie CSA, they also offer a bread and herb/allium CSA. They deliver year-round to numerous locations throughout the Albany region, including many apartment/housing complexes and work places. For a list of all their delivery locations, click here. This is a great option for those who may not live near a farmer’s market or are unable to attend their market when it is open. A friend of ours is a member of Field Goods and has her fruits/veggie CSA delivered right to her workplace!

Finally, Local Harvest is a wonderful resource for putting people in touch with their local farmers. It has a terrific search option that allows you to search for CSAs, grocery stores, farmer’s markets, farms, and even meat markets that grow/sell sustainably grown food in your area. There are even some farms that allow you to purchase items online at Local Harvest and have them delivered right to your home!

So, if, for whatever reason, farmer’s markets are not an option for you and/or you are unsure of where to get wholesome, local foods, take heart! There are lots of other options out there and, if your area farmers are anything like the ones I know, they’d be more than willing to work with you on the best way to get their delicious food to your door.

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Wholesome Living Challenge Day Eight

Today on day eight of our stay, my husband opened a new store for his company. Although he has been a district manager for several years, this was the first time he has ever opened a store. I am incredibly proud of all his hard work. He has been working insane hours getting everything ready for the store’s grand opening, while I have been busy looking after our girls and puppy by myself in our hotel room. I have been trying to keep the girls busy so they would not notice their Daddy’s absence.

Today was grand opening! The store opened smoothly and right on time this morning. When the girls and I stopped by the store it was packed and the who’s who of the company were there to welcome shoppers to their store. I am thrilled the store is open, but I am more excited for our life to get back to normal. We still have to stay by the store for the first few weeks until it gets on its feet, but the grand opening stress will at least have subsided a bit. Hopefully we will also return to our normal practice of eating most meals together as a family. This means, I have meals to plan and grocery shopping to do.

As I have mentioned in prior posts, we are trying to continue to eat wholesome foods while we are away. The girls and I typically eat healthy, but simple meals when Daddy is not around for dinner. Think organic peanut butter and homemade jam (e.g. little to no raw sugar) on sprouted or sourdough bread type of simple. The past three days have been filled with these type of simple meals (except for our Taco Bell lunch). Yesterday we made a trip out to Shunpike Dairy for our milk. We had a blast. The weather was warm and in addition to getting our week’s supply of milk, we also got to see the farm animals. We even saw a wobbly, baby calf who was born right before we arrived. The girls were thrilled. One thing I love about shopping directly from farmers is directly supporting real people (e.g. the human interaction). I enjoy supporting local businesses. I feel more like a part of a community if I am actively contributing our money (votes) to local businesses I love. There was a young lady working at the farm who showed us around and encouraged us to explore and stay as long as we liked. She also told us about a zoo right down the road. I have been in a few box stores since we have arrived and I have not gotten a recommendation from anyone about places to go or things to see during our visit. Granted, I never asked. Why? Because most of those types of stores are just not conducive to long conversations. Cashiers are usually evaluated by how quickly they can ring items and this often takes precedence over their customer service skills. Box store, locally-owned store and direct-from farmer options are all useful in their own ways, it comes down to what people prefer and value.

I decided to take the young lady’s zoo recommendation. I took the girls to the zoo and enjoyed a beautiful, warm day. The Trevor Zoo is a part of The Millbrook School. It is the only zoo in the United States (and maybe the world) run by and on the grounds of a high school. The Millbrook School is a private prep school and costs a whopping $49,000 per year, plus books. As a part of their high school experience, students work at the zoo. While we were there, we were passed several times by students hurrying to the main animal clinic take care of their responsibilities at the zoo. Responsibilities mainly consisted of feeding the animals and cleaning out their cages. The zoo itself was lovely and it’s location breathtaking. Although small, it was a delight to visit. I doubt we would ever consider (or make enough) to ever send our kids away to a private prep school for high school. However, I was incredibly impressed with the students. They were some of the most pleasant, responsible teens I have ever met. It was obvious they had been given a lot of responsibility, but the teenagers all seemed to thrive under such expectations. It gave me a lot to think about.

So, today, on day eight I am thankful for:

-The chance to wander.
-Mason jars! Ever since a friend of mine brought me flowers in a mason jar I have been in love with their simplicity and usefulness. The milk we bought from Shunpike Dairy came in half gallon mason jars! I have never seen a mason jar so large. I am going to hold onto them and use them as decorations in our home.
-Car rides and their ability to lull children to sleep while Mama drives and sips on a latte.
-A perfect grand opening for my husband’s new store.
-Our girls behaving wonderfully while they were introduced to Daddy’s bosses.
-A chance to catch up on some reading and blog on a regular basis.

Below is an image of The Millbrook School’s campus.

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*This post is shared on Raising Homemakers.