Friday, May 14, 2010

Our Green Heritage Under Glass

North Union Farmers Market is pleased to announce our first annual “Get Growing for Summer: Flower Day at the Market” at our Crocker Park location on May 22, 2010 from 9am to 2pm. This will be the perfect opportunity to get everything you need to start your landscaping, gardening and yard work for the summer. Plus, it is a wonderful opportunity to support your local nurseries!
Did you know that in the late 1930’s, Greater Cleveland was home to the largest concentration of farming acreage under glass (225 acres) in America? Greenhouses were popping up all over Cuyahoga County as early as 1887 when T.W. James built a greenhouse near Brooklyn Heights. In fact, Dean’s Greenhouse in Westlake, built in 1924, is one of the area’s oldest operational greenhouses. The greenhouse industry in Northeast Ohio continued to flourish (pun intended!) throughout much of the 20th century, culminating in 1972 when the Cleveland Plain Dealer referred to Cuyahoga and Lorain county area as the “Greenhouse Capital of America.”

Events in the early 1990’s (a freeze in Florida which drove the prices of tomatoes up and increasing emissions standards by the EPA) put a great strain on the industry. Many growers borrowed money personally to try to protect their business. Unfortunately, many went out of business and our title of “Greenhouse Capital of America” was lost.

Several growers still operate in our area, and it is important to support them. The local food movement in Northeast Ohio is extremely popular and prominent and increased use of sustainable growing practices by local greenhouses means the two movements can work together to restore this vital industry. People who are dedicated to eating food grown locally are restricted by Ohio’s climate. Advanced technologies and growing innovations in greenhouses may provide us with an extended season.
Show your support for local nurseries and local food! Visit a local nursery for your summer supplies or shop from over 5 greenhouse vendors at our “Flower Day at the Market” on May 22nd, 9am to 2pm at Crocker Park. Local seedlings are acclimatized and plants are grown right here in Ohio, and there is one other benefit to buying local--talking to the grower, asking him or her questions and gaining a wealth of knowledge from their expertise!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Escape to the Country

Our visit to Killbuck Valley Mushrooms...a delicious day!
On Sunday, May 2, a group of us from North Union Farmers Market including staff, board, farmers and market shoppers visited Killbuck Valley Mushrooms in Burbank, OH for a day of foraging mushrooms, learning about nature and relaxing in the country.

When we arrived, Tom and Wendy Wiandt, the owners and operators, were setting up tables and grills to prepare for the dinner Karen Small of The Flying Fig would help us prepare later. Chickens scurried throughout the yard, the sun peaked through the clouds we had all been watching for rain and we decided it was going to be a great day!

As guests arrived, Tom and his daughter, Jessie, showed us around the farm. They have a field planted with garlic and rutabagas, and a few of the guests were brave enough to pluck a rutabaga right out of the ground and take a bite! We then made our way into the woods to forage. The weather cooperated and we were soon gathering wild ginger, nettle, and a few wild mushrooms. The woods were so peaceful--the only sounds being the birds, babbling creek, and occasional shouts from one of as we slipped in the mud or creek! We also saw wild life such as salamanders, newts and frogs scampering through the leaves on the ground.
In the afternoon, we all tried fishing, but the cloudy sky kept all the fish hidden. Mick Prochko of Covered Bridge Gardens caught the only fish, but Tom and Mick had caught quite a few the evening before. We all headed back to the barn to watch Tom filet the fish and get ready for dinner.

Karen Small looked over the ingredients laid out on a table in the barn. You could watch the wheels in her head beginning to spin as she asked people to start chopping, boiling and preparing each dish. When it was all over, it was hard to believe she hadn't planned for days but only for a couple of hours! The meal consisted of a chicken stock soup, a rutabaga-sunchoke puree, deviled eggs, mixed and braised mustard greens, candied wild ginger, grilled asparagus, and the fish with a log shiitake cream sauce. For dessert, we enjoyed rhubarb candied in maple syrup over vanilla ice cream. More pictures and info to come on the dinner...
The day was relaxing, educational, DELICIOUS, and fun! We hope you'll join us on our next farm visit...stay tuned for details on when and where!