Homestead Update: Summer U-Picks and Farmer's Markets Galore
What a week! We started off with rain and ended with rain... It was much needed! It's been an interesting time this year; we signed up for the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmer's Market, which has been so fun. Jill and I have been traveling to shows together since I was two-years-old so when we decided to take on Country Living Fair for the past two years we seriously stepped up our game. Those shows wear you out! It was nothing like we had ever vended before. Products go left and right, you run out of stock so fast, and you're constantly chatting with new people. It's exhausting and draining, especially for an introvert like myself! But we loved it, we loved meeting our customers and readers from all over the USA.
When we bought the farm and realized that CLF would not be possible this year, we were bummed, but we knew that meant we would get try something completely new... a farmer's market. How does a farmer's market differ from a regular craft show?! Oh, in many ways, friends. IN MANY WAYS. It was shocking how much we didn't know that first market. After years of saying, "Really? Pop up tables? People, we can do better," we rolled up to the second market with only pop up tables... Oi. Farmer's markets are hard in different ways. It's now not about the amount of product or keeping a consistent smile on for customers (though it still is that). Now we have to work on keeping produce at peak freshness in a tent with bags of ice and spray bottles, figuring out containers for produce and twist ties and plastic bags and clamshells. We have to arrive before 6 AM, which means we are waking up around 4 AM to get ready and on the road. It's shorter than before, but we love it just the same. I have never felt a stronger sale high then when I am selling our produce!
Our weeks are about to fill up completely. This Thursday and Friday (today!) mark our first week of CSA. That's when our members come pick up their food bundles each week for the next 18 weeks. Every other Saturday we have a farmer's market, too. That's a lot of food to tote! It makes me so happy. Just yesterday Cara and I were saying, "Is this real life?!" that we actually get to grow and sell food to people? Yes, it is!
If you are local to our farm, come stop by the farmer's market in Cedar Rapids! We will be there tomorrow (Saturday June 16) from 7:30AM - 12PM. Our booth number is #70! We'll have lots of fresh greens, radishes, scallions, baby beets, and more. Next week we also start a fun new program that I will announce soon! (:
On Monday we took a little trip right down the road to new strawberry u-pick farm that opened up! Our friends Kate and Joni from The Barn, who also happen to be our literal next-farm neighbors, came with us to pick. It was so fun! Tad seemed more preoccupied with walking down the rows than munching on berries, which I was happy about. Now that we farm ourselves, I can see how a u-pick could lose some crop by munchers. Eek! I did sneak a bite myself while picking out of curiosity. They were the best strawberries I had ever eaten! It was a pleasant surprise as we had bought some locally grown berries earlier in the week, and they were too bitter to eat. Such a bummer! These were perfectly ripe, sweet, and tart. I couldn't help but fill my basket all the way to the top.
We have been eating them for the past few days on pancakes, in our smoothies, and we are considering making them into jam. But I kind of want to freeze them instead for smoothies in the morning! What would you do? Preserves or freezer? Either way, they'll be deliciously preserved for later use. There's nothing better than finding ways to save your fresh picks except maybe supporting other local farmers. If you're in the area, the farm is Berry Basket Farm in Iowa City!
Life on the homestead is finally feeling like we've found a groove. Though I know that will change without a doubt. The weeds are somewhat under control, things are growing with vigor, the bugs are minimal (for now), and all of the animals are fed and healthy. I really couldn't ask for more, even if I wished all of the weeds away. They are just going to be there this year; it's our first try, we messed up on a few preparation techniques, and it will get better. I just have to keep repeating that to myself! While there are problems here and there, things could be much worse, and I am thankful for all that we have this year. The abundance of produce is really shocking to me, even though I worked so hard for it and watch it like a hawk daily, it's still kind of like wow... how did we even pull this off?! You know?
I hope that you all are having a great start to summer. The days just fly by for me now! Next week we have a lot of fun announcements to share so be on the lookout for those. See you on Monday!