One reason that shopping at the Farmers Market is so satisfying, aside from the amazing variety of food available, is the familiarity that develops among farmers, vendors, and customers.
Friends and acquaintances inevitably and unexpectedly appear. There’s time given for catching up, poking around, comparing notes.
We might not recognize it as the exotic ambiance we drool over in foreign flicks where local markets brim with colorful people, a vast array of produce and all kinds of drama. We want to travel there and have that experience. Doesn’t seem so exotic when it’s in our own backyard, but we are that movie. OK, I admit, that seems like a stretch, but you get my point.
Meet Shelley Verdi from Whistling Train Farm (Kent, WA.). As usual, I saw her Sunday morning, surrounded by customers perusing her piles of green: baby bok choy, pea shoots, mint, carrots, exotic lettuces, broccoli, onions and more. We don’t actually know each other, but she’s become a familiar part of my weekly marketing ritual. Always friendly and knowledgeable about her food, I look forward to seeing what pops up on her table each week. We consume lots of Whistling Train squash each fall and winter. She and her husband Mike Verdi grow organic food and sell some of it at Columbia City and West Seattle Farmers Markets, the University District Market part of the year. They also sell to restaurants and operate a CSA program.
A few weeks ago Shelley had cardoons available, unusual fare for local farmers, and I couldn’t help but notice how excited the customer in front of me was at having scored an armful. She and I chatted about ways to fix cardoons, something you don’t cook that often. Part of their stated mission at Whistling Train Farm is to grow things that we might not find at the grocery store, in addition to produce we’re familiar with.
A camaradrie is felt with those we do a little business with week after week. They grow and then bring to us the seasonal products we need. Take a closer look at Whistling Train Farm whenever you visit the Columbia City or West Seattle Markets. Visit their website and read We, the Farmers which tells their story. It’s pretty cool. They have two kids, they’re practically neighbors, they grow our food.
If you haven’t already, check out the preview of GOOD FOOD, a movie featuring several Pacific Northwest Farmers. Free screening at noon on July 9th at Seattle City Council.