Of the Earth: A tale of two farmers markets

  • Paul Sabine of Atherton Farm in Ashfield sold round Argentinian zucchini during Saturday’s farmers market. For the Recorder/Wesley Blixt

  • Kevin “Tubalove” Smith of Rob Skelton’s Pitchfork lets it blow at the Ashfield Farmers Market on Saturday. Contributed/Gail Abbott


For the Recorder
Published: 7/31/2018 1:59:37 PM

There was a “Threepenny Opera” quality to the Greenfield Farmers Market on Saturday, which was bright and sunny, with thunderheads on every horizon.

First, there was the growing tent community on the Town Common which, under more fortunate circumstances, might have been mistaken for a Scout camporee or a pocket music festival. But circumstances were clearly less-than-fortunate, and there was no promise that they would be better any time soon.

Then there was the market itself, which — despite the odd reality that it was not entirely clear where the market began and the homeless encampment ended — was still well-populated with folks cozying up to the bok choy and the artisanal sourdough baguettes.

Next, there were the good folks from Racial Justice Rising, not often on the common, but maintaining a vigil and reminding passers-by that black lives matter.

And finally, there was a team of Morris dancers, whose leaping and jingling seemed oblivious to anything other than the generally good vibes being harvested from a summer morning.

It seemed like a nice-but-potentially-messy cultural scene, I told my guide from the tent encampment, who declined to provide his name for publication as he mended a sign that read “This could be you.” The sign had apparently been ripped in half by a passerby. I referred to it as a homemade sign, but was politely reminded there was something problematic about calling it homemade.

The man, who was from Ashfield, explained that, although there had been some nastiness that morning, as there had been in recent days, it hadn’t come from (or been aimed at) anyone either buying or selling at the market, where abundance and plenty stood in contrast to the need that was so obvious just 20 to 30 feet away.

There were also lots of donations, he said. Annie Hassett, well-known musician and social justice advocate, had just delivered some fresh corn bread, which was accompanied by a large jar of honey donated by one of the market vendors.

“I even got a good shower,” he explained, looking toward the sky for another downpour like the ones that had punctuated recent days. “But I didn’t have any soap.”

Overhearing this exchange, Elliston Bingham of JuJuBee Farm in Shelburne offered to contribute a bar of his goat milk soap.

The Ashfield man suggested that I check out Saturday’s Ashfield Farmers Market for a different experience, which I did, and it certainly was. Not better, just different.

In Ashfield, I met a friend daydreaming on the lawn to Rob Skelton’s Pitchfork, featuring poetry by South Deerfield’s Mike Mauri and tuba by Kevin Smith. I got to spend some time with Susan Atherton and Paul Sabine of the Atherton Farm, who turned me on to a beautiful, round Argentinian zucchini grown from seeds contributed by customer. It has a creamy texture that makes it excellent for steaming, Sabine said.

There is something about Ashfield’s farmers market that separates it from markets further down the Pioneer Valley, Atherton said. It was then, as I was leaving, that I heard a volley of jingling. It was an energetic team of Morris dancers, arriving in Ashfield.

The Cutting Board

Speaking of Need: On Friday, it’s time to fill the 14th annual Belly Bus. The bus will collect food and other donations that have been gathered internally by businesses and organizations across the county, and will be on hand to collect donations from the public ...

from 9 a.m. to 3 pm at Greenfield’s Stop & Shop

from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at Foster’s Supermarket

from 9 a.m. to noon at Food Town in Turners Falls

and from 3 to 5 p.m. on the Greenfield Common.

The Belly Bus is a Franklin County Hunger Task Force effort that helps fill in gaps between the end of the summer youth meal program and the beginning of school. Look for the Belly Bus and contribute generously. Visit www.communityaction.us/events for more information.

Revival: Readers may remember that in January, esteemed friend, commenter and musician David Fersh of Charlemont offered a recipe for Jannson’s Temptation — the main ingredients of which are potatoes and anchovies. Fersh made a batch of Jannson’s for us to share. I, however, wound up in the hospital (nothing to do with Jannson’s Temptation, I swear) and Fersh froze his creation, anticipating that we would eat it another day.

Well, Jannson’s Temptation is about to arise from its frozen repose. We have decided that the only proper way to document the thawing, resurrection and consumption of Jannson’s Temptation is to record a video to be included with my column, perhaps in two weeks. It should be exciting.

Wesley Blixt lives in Greenfield. He is a longtime reporter and is the author of “SKATERS: A Novel.” Send him recipes, stories and suggestions at wesleyblixt@me.com.

Greenfield Recorder

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