Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chasing Golden Beets

You know Atalanta who was so fast she never lost a race? And the potential suitors who did not beat her in a race would be killed? Until one guy (I forget who), tricked her by lobbing golden apples in her path? It was all Aphrodite's idea, anyway; he certainly didn't think of it. I kind of had that experience yesterday. Well, not really, but I was chasing golden beets and was distracted by them.

I was at the East Liberty Farmers Market and had a plan in my head of exactly what to get to make dinner for the next two days. Sometimes, though, good intentions and too much planning get in the way of taking advantage of what is available right now! I saw the beautiful golden beets at the Harvest Valley Farms stand. I looked at them longingly; I asked if there would still be beets in two weeks (because there is no market next week for Memorial Day), and the answer was, "probably." Since it was not part of my plan, I didn't buy them. But then I could not stop thinking of them the rest of the night and next morning.

A little side note on tastes -- If I had told myself three years ago that I would be longing for beets, I probably would have thought future me had lost her mind. My tastes have expanded and diversified a lot in the past years. My children who are very picky and eat next to nothing besides pasta, crackers and junk food, like to remind me of how much pickier I used to be even four years ago. I would not even consider eating fish then. It was strictly a no touch, no see, no smell situation. Same for beets. I still cannot bring myself to eat "regular" beets. I puree those to add to chocolate cupcakes. But more on that later. I discovered golden beets somehow, and I now have a favorite way to eat them. Golden beets taste much better than red/ purple beets. They are much more fruity, less earthy, more mild.

So, I had other errands to run in the vicinity of way up Route 8, so after calling to confirm that the Harvest Valley Farms Market and Bakery had some golden beets, I headed out. It's nice to have a farm market near you. This particular one isn't really _near_ me, but anyway, I imagine it would be nice. The parking lot was super full, but they had golden beets -- two bunches left. They also had all sorts of other delightful fresh vegetables from their farm including asparagus. They said perhaps they would have strawberries next Tuesday (May 31)! So I bought the beets and some other things too and eventually after many other errands, headed home to make (after many chores) my favorite recipe using beets. The following recipe is a combination of many different ones I have seen, including this one, this one, and this one.

Golden Beet Salad (serves 4)
4 medium-sized golden beets
4-8 cups (or so) of spring mix, arugula, spinach, lettuce, or any combination therin rinsed and chopped or not chopped, depending on the size of what you are working with
1/2 cup of crumbled goat cheese feta (or feta or goat cheese)
1 Tbs sauteeing tasteless oil (like canola or sunflower)
1 lb of large sea scallops
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 ripe white (or yellow) peaches cut into large dice (leave these out if they are not in season, but definitely try the salad with the peaches again later if you can)

1-2 tsp lemon rind
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs champagne vinegar
1/2 Tbs honey
1 tsp crushed or minced garlic
2 large scallions/ green onions (white part only), minced fine
         or you can use 1 heaping Tbs of minced shallot instead of the garlic and scallion
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub beets and trim the ends. Do not peel. Wrap each beet in foil and place them all on a cookie sheet. Cook for 20 minutes (golf ball size) to 60 minutes (tennis ball size), depending on size. My medium-sized beets cooked in 40 minutes. When beets can be pierced easily with a fork (but they should NOT be soft or mushy), remove them from the oven and open up the foil to let them begin to cool. Once the beets are cool enough to touch, rub the outsides of the beets with your fingers to peel them. The peel will fall right off. Chop the beets into 1 inch squares (or so).

While the beets are cooking make the dressing in a large bowl or spouted cup (I use a two cup measuring cup), by whisking all of the ingredients except the olive oil together. When the salad is put together and ready to serve, slowly whisk in the olive oil so that it emulsifies.

Rinse the scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel. Add salt and pepper to scallops. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Carefully add the scallops so they have their own space. Cook the scallops about three minutes per side -- until they are opaque. Remove them from the heat.

Put together the salads by starting with the greens, adding one chopped beet per salad, 1/2 peach per salad, 1/8 c. goat cheese per salad, and then topping with whole scallops (each salad should have three to four).

Don't forget the dressing!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Vendors at East Liberty Farmers Market

Woolf Farms Stand
Here I am again, singing the praises of the East Liberty Farmers Market, run by Citiparks at Station Street and North Euclid on Mondays from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. It's already open, and it will run through November 14. It will probably be closed on Memorial Day, but you can go tomorrow!

One cool thing about some of the farmers markets around Pittsburgh, is that Just Harvest is there with tokens as part of its Fresh Access program, which are accepted at many of the vendors, just not the hot food vendors. For those who forget to bring cash, tokens can be purchased with a debit or credit card, and then are accepted at the vendors just like cash -- except they only come in $1.00 and $ .50 denominations. The tokens never expire and can be used at 17 different farmers markets. For those who receive food stamps, the access card can be used to purchase tokens. With every $5.00 purchase, $2.00 in food bucks coupons to spend on fruits and veggies are included.

I poked around a little on the web, and I didn't see a list of vendors at the market. In case you want to know what to expect, I'd like to provide you with a list of vendors here. I may have forgotten someone, and most likely, more will be added as the season progresses.

With the prepared food tables, I will let you know what I have learned about their use of local products.

Pitaland from Brookline
Sells prepared mediterranean-style foods that seem very popular, fresh-baked pita bread, and fresh squeezed lemonade. No local sourced products as far as the vendor and I could figure out.

Wild River Kettle Korn
From Bethel Park, PA
Kettle corn that is popped right in front of you. Kettle corn is a little sweet if you didn't know. They also sell chocolate kettle corn until June, then they switch over to cheddar, because it is less likely to melt. I can't imagine it being warm enough to melt chocolate right now, so I guess we'll have to see. Again, nothing locally sourced.

Fine Family Apiary
These folks are from Monogahela, PA. He is always happy to talk about his honey, what kind it is (wildflower? spring bloom? golden rod? ), its flavor, when it was bottled, and more. He offers many different sizes as well as raw honey, honey comb, etc. We have a 5lb. jug that my kids drink from. Well, not exactly, but sort of. I know there are a lot of bee enthusiasts around here, but he can definitely be counted on for a wide variety of a very, very good product.

Good L'oven Cookie Shop
Even though these are not locally sourced, my kids have been eating and loving these for years. I have to admit that I enjoy the ginger "snap" cookie every once in a while. It is not a snap, though, but is instead chewy, just as it should be.

Pickled Chef
Chef Greg Andrews is the "pickled chef" and this for sure is a locally sourced vendor. They run a farm to table restaurant in Greensburg called The Supper Club. It looks pretty awesome to me. They currently have pickled asparagus, ramps, green garlic, and garlic scapes from this season. They work with a number of local farms, but one of the chief ones recently is Let it Grow Farms in Scotdale.

They also use Zeke's Coffee in their Espresso Bar B Q sauce and Natrona root beer in their Root Beer Bar B Q sauce. In addition to the many sauces, and lots of other pickled vegetables, they carry several fermented foods, such as kim chee, sriracha, sour dill pickles, and sauerkraut.

As soon as locally farmed fruits and vegetables become available, they will use and sell them. If you like pickled and fermented foods, you should definitely pay them a visit.

Brenckles Organic Farm
This is an organic farmer who used to sell at the Farmers@ Firehouse market in the strip district. I have had a lot of their produce and it is for sure excellent. I picked up some spinach from them on Monday and it was lovely. As you may be able to see from the picture, they had flats of annuals and hanging plants as well.

This is a family farm, and the farmer I met has been running the farm for too many years to count. He has quite a sense of humor. I hope you will stop by to pay him/ them a visit.

Family Farms Creameries
Carries lots of local cheeses, milk, ice cream, and yogurt, all from local dairy farms and/ or locally made. I've purchased two cheeses so far, the goat milk feta from River View Dairy and the Royer Mountain from Clover Creek Cheese Cellar. Their products can be found at Market Street Grocery, and for those lucky enough to have a Harvest Valley Farms, Clarion River Organics, or Who Cooks for You Farm CSA, a cheese subscription is a choice to add on.

Pie Place
Pies, fruit ties, bars, brownies, crisps, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and pepperoni rolls from Bethel Park. They are new to the East Liberty Farmers Market this year. They may use local farms for fruit as it becomes available.

Mediterra Bake House
This is a high quality bakery based out of Robinson, PA with lots and lots of choices for bread. It is locally made and they source their rye from Washington County. They often sell muffins, scones, and/ or some other type of bakery treats along with the bread.

I'm afraid I can't tell you too much about this stand/ truck. I'll get back to it when I bring my fifteen year old meat-lovin son. Nothing I've seen seems to indicate that anything is locally sourced.

Woolf Farms
This an Ohio farm that usually sells a lot of fruit and corn in addition to other vegetables. In fact, last Monday they had a few cartons of strawberries! I got there right behind the woman who got the last pint. I will not be missing out on those this week. They often have lots of peaches during peach season. And their apples are great. On Monday I bought Fuji apples from them which were still crisp and juicy. They are a pretty large operation as far as I can tell and go to farmers markets all over Ohio in addition to Peters Township, Market Square, and Bloomfield around here.

Mill Creek Trout Farm
I wrote about these folks a couple of weeks ago. They sell frozen and smoked trout as well as frozen beef, pork, and goat. We have bought two types of pork sausage from them and have really enjoyed both types. Their rainbow trout was AMAZING! It was caught and frozen the day we bought it. I bought a filet, brought it home, thawed it in cool water, and grilled it with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. It was soooo good. I am only recently a fish eater, and I only like fresh fish that is not "fishy." When I opened the package, it smelled like. . . nothing. But it tasted like like all it should have.

Harvest Valley Farms
This is my go to vendor. Art King and his family, located in Valencia, farm sustainably and are active members of PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture). We have gotten the HVF CSA for years and have always loved it. Their vegetables are high quality every time. I have written about them on this blog many times. This week I got green onions, beautiful greenhouse grown little tomatoes from Yarnick's Farm (which were so good -- I just ate them out of hand) and a lovely, delicate, and so tasty spring mix.

Schramm's Farm and Orchards 
These Harrison City farmers have been regulars at the East Liberty Farmers Market for years. They can always be counted on for a good selection of tasty vegetables and fruit.

Sand Hill Berries
Another long-time vendor in East Liberty. They grow their own berries, many, many kinds, that they sell at their stand. They even have frozen berries available year round. However, I think they are most known for the pies, sauces, jams, and jellies, which are top-of-the-line.

Bluebird Organic Farm 
is an organic farm that carries many specialty vegetables. Their eggs are always great, and I often get ours from him. He also has many, many varieties of garlic, so if you are a garlic nut (like many of us are), you should plan to visit him later in the summer. Lettuce varieties galore, kale, greens, and other heirlooms tend to populate his coolers and counters. Come here for the vegetables you love, but in a slightly different, more interesting form because he will usually offer multiple varieties that you won't find elsewhere.

Billy's Country Smokehouse
is a very popular stand at the market. They give out samples, which I think helps. Also, it seems that lots of folks like smoked meats. Billy's gets their meats from local distributers and then create their products. They have the following smoked products: kolbassi, bacon, hot dogs, pepper sticks, summer sausage, salmon, and steak jerky. They also have fresh sausage. I don't believe the meat is sourced locally. They only know which distributors they use.

City Fresh Pasta 
was formerly known as Ohio City Pasta. They sell fresh/ frozen ravioli and fresh pasta as well as gnocchi by special order. They say they source their ingredients locally. We purchased gnocchi last week. It cooked a little too fast for me! I accidentally let it turn into goo. Let that be a warning for you if you try it. Cook for only two minutes, is my guess.

Cinco de Maya Salsas 
has delicious salsas and chips that you can sample. I did not get a chance to quiz them about sources (I am a pain about it, believe me), but I can promise we have had their salsa and chips before and they are great.

Enrico Biscotti Company 
is the famous biscotti company in the Strip District. I don't think anything is locally sourced, but they are a Pittsburgh institution. They also have cookies and bread in addition to many flavors of biscotti.

Hello Hummus 
sells mostly vegan (except for honey in some products) hummus and greens and grains salads. I purchased the veggie hummus and it was mildly flavored but delicious. They will be using local ingredients as soon as they are able. They are in many farmers markets around the area, so I hope you get a chance to stop by and try some samples to discern what you like.

anchors the base of the farmers market and offers lots and lots of produce in addition to flowers. I haven't ever been able to find out too much about them and their growing practices and after some disappointments with their products years ago, I am not a regular patron.

Who Cooks for You Farms 
is a certified naturally grown farm in Armstrong County. They had tons and tons of seedling for May Market, some of which are growing in planters on my porch right now. They offer the vegetables you are probably used to seeing as well as some you may not have seen. I tasted ground cherries there for the first time, for example. Last week, they had nettle (along with seedlings and lettuce and green onions), which needs to be cooked just a bit because it has thorns.

Please write in if you have anything to add about any of these vendors. Be sure to make it to the market on Monday.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Next Weatherbury Farm Grain Pickup

Earlier this week I wrote about Weatherbury Farm. We just missed a grain pickup at Weatherbury Farm, but luckily, another one is coming up soon! Place an order using this order form and price list by Saturday, May 28 because all of the organic grain is ground to order. Pickup is at the farm in Avella (link to directions) on June 3 from 5:00 PM - 6:15 PM and Saturday, June 4, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Organic, free-range eggs are also available by the dozen, which you can pick up with the grain. They only cost $3.50 for a dozen! What a steal! If you live in the area, or are just really desperate for eggs, you can email them, and they will set them aside for you any ole' day.

If you pick up on June 3, you can stay for a potluck dinner and folk music jam, which starts at 6:15! No admission is charged, but they ask that you bring a dish to share. Sounds like fun.

I'd love to hear from anyone who uses Weatherbury's grains/ flour/ beans or anyone planning to go to the music jam. And, did I mention that they are organic?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Weatherbury Farm Redux Polenta Version

Monday was a great day to visit the East Liberty Farmers Market. I got a lot of delicious items, and I will be writing all about the different vendors who were there in a post coming soon.

Because it was there, I bought two batches of asparagus from Harvest Valley Farms. I love local, fresh asparagus, and you should too. Last night we had a delicious dinner with roasted asparagus over polenta. Roasted asparagus tastes good with anything, but since we have some great organic local cornmeal from Weatherbury Farm, that is what I used. Some photos of the farm are below.


Weatherbury Farm started growing, milling, and selling their own grains quite a few years back. Back in April of 2008, I wrote a blog post about beef and farm stays at Weatherbury Farm. At that time, their grains were not available. Now, grains are a big part of their business. They are all certified organic, grown on their farm, and milled on their property with a mill certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. All of the following products are stone ground. They grow Maxine Hard Winter Wheat, which is used for whole wheat bread flour and unbleached bread flour, Frederick Soft White Winter Wheat (available in August 2016), which is used for whole wheat cake and pastry flour and unbleached cake and pastry flour, Aroostook Rye, for whole rye flour and light rye flour, Oberkulmer Spelt, for whole spelt flour and unbleached spelt flour, Wapsie Valley Open Pollinated Corn, for open pollinated polenta (more coarse) and open pollinated cornmeal (more refined), buckwheat flour, and rolled oats. They also grow black turtle beans, and those will be available in November 2016. Some other grains they are working on are einkorn, emmer, and Hull-less oats. We just missed a grain pickup; it was Saturday, May 14. Customers need to order from Weatherbury Farm (link to the order form) about a week in advance because they mill to order. Then you drive to their farm in Avella, PA to pick up your order. They have a Facebook site, FYI.

Weatherbury Farm grains can also be purchased at the Market Street Grocery in downtown Pittsburgh. Currently they have cornmeal and buckwheat.

Or, a greater variety of the Weatherbury Farm grain products are available through the Penn's Corner Farm Alliance Farm Stand. You can place an order through an app or online by May 19 and then pick it up next week. This pattern repeats each week, actually. Multiple location are available for pick up (Monroeville, Squirrel Hill, Lawrenceville, Homewood, or Northside, etc.) or one can get home delivery (in the Pittsburgh area) for an order over $50 for a $15 fee. I will definitely have a blog about Penn's Corner at some point.

The farm itself also sells grass-fed, sustainably organic freezer beef and lamb. Customers can order beef now in the form of 1/4 or 1/2 cow to be picked up in August and/ or December of 2016. There is also a waiting list for lamb. Last year I was lucky enough to purchase 10 pounds of whole cow hamburger. I wish I had purchased 20! It was fantastic and so convenient.

I purchased the oats, polenta, and turtle beans about a year ago also. As soon as I brought them home, I placed all of my bags in the refrigerator. The only one left is the polenta. It is still very good, actually.

As I said, I made polenta last night to go with roasted asparagus, onion, and mushrooms. The recipe heavily borrowed from this one.

Roasted Veggies over Polenta
2 bunches asparagus
8 ounces of cremini/ baby portobello mushrooms (you could use button or regular portobellos also)
1/2 medium-sized red onion (or one small, or 1/3 of a large, etc)
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh, minced rosemary
1 tsp fresh, minced thyme
1 tsp fresh, minced oregano

1 cup Polenta from Weatherbury Farm
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese or
1/3 cup shredded Royer Mountain Cheese from Clover Creek Cheese Cellar (this has so much flavor compared to Parmesan, you don't need as much)
1/4 tsp black pepper (or crushed red pepper if you like a little heat)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

After cutting off tough ends, chop asparagus into 2 inch pieces. Quarter the baby bellas, 1/4 the 1/2 of the red onion.

Spray the vegetables with an oil mister (or drizzle with oil), sprinkle with salt and toss. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. If your asparagus is different thicknesses (as mine was) leave the thin stalks out for now. Put in the oven once it is preheated. Set timer for 5 minutes.

Bring 3 cups of water and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil. When it is boiling, add the polenta in a slowish, steady stream while stirring (so no lumps are created). Turn down the heat so that the polenta is at a low boil or vigorous simmer. Set the timer for 10 minutes.

At this point, your timer should have gone off, so turn your baking sheet, stir the vegetables, add the thinner asparagus, and reset the timer for five more minutes, which will be enough time to bring out the sweet flavors of the vegetables without making them too soft. Adjust timing as needed for your own oven, of course.

Stir the polenta as often as you can otherwise it sticks to the bottom of the pan and burns. You may need to add up to 1 cup of additional water if the polenta sticks too much or seems too dry.

When the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven and move them to a bowl. Toss them with the rosemary, oregano, and thyme. Or serve on a platter and sprinkle with herbs.

Once the polenta has absorbed all of the water, remove from heat. Stir in shredded cheese, and add pepper if you wish.

I used to purchase local mushrooms from Mushrooms for Life at the Farmers@Firehouse market in the Strip District. Sadly, the market is no longer open. Boo hoo. I'm not sure if he will pop up anywhere this season. In the meantime, you can get local mushrooms at the East End Food Coop.

Articles about Weatherbury Farm:

Furthermore, if you are looking for additional recipes with polenta, in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a feature was written about George Washington's recreated grist mill at Mount Vernon. Interesting recipes using grits, which I believe are interchangeable with polenta, appear in the article. There is one for shrimp and grits, which I have made many times and is delicious, and peach and grits parfait, which I may try during peach season.

What grains do you use from local grain suppliers? How do you like to prepare polenta/ grits? Or asparagus?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Raw Asparagus?

Fresh, local asparagus
With fresh asparagus in hand, it was time to make some raw asparagus salad. I actually had no idea that one could eat asparagus raw until last year when I purchased it at the Farmers at Firehouse Market (that is, alas, closed as of this year) and Susan Barclay of Slow Food Pittsburgh was demonstrating a wonderful concoction that she shared via this recipe. She cautioned that raw asparagus is only tasty if it is fresh, as in picked that day or maybe the day before. So, now is your chance to eat something which you normally cannot! And, believe me, it is a treat. The taste of the raw asparagus is subtle, juicy, crispy, wonderful. The salad she made uses many of the fresh spring ingredients available: rhubarb, honey, asparagus, pea shoots, and chives, for example.

Rhubarb and I are not best friends, actually, so instead I made my own version with the spring things I purchased at the Citiparks East Liberty Farmers Market on Monday.

Raw Asparagus Salad

2 C raw asparagus chopped into coins

2 cups pea shoots, bigger stems removed, chopped a bit

1/4 cup chopped scallions (green onions), white and green parts (this was two scallions for me)

2 ounces white balsamic vinegar (1/8 cup/ 2 Tbs)
3 ounces olive oil (3 Tbs)
1/2 tsp salt (I used Kosher)
Whisk these together until the oil is emulsified

Add dressing to salad until it is coated and let sit (in refrigerator) for about one hour before serving (I did not end up using all of the dressing I had made)

Add 2 ounces goat cheese feta (or regular feta) chopped into crumbles  (This was purchased from Family Farms Creameries)

There are lots of recipes available for using asparagus, raw or cooked. What's your favorite asparagus recipe? Please share in the comments!

Monday, May 9, 2016

East Liberty Farmers Market Opened Today

It was opening day for the East Liberty Farmers Market today at Station Street and North Euclid. This has become my favorite farmers market in Pittsburgh, although I confess, I definitely have not been to even half of the farmers markets in the area. There are so many! We are very lucky here in Western Pennsylvania to live close to so much agriculture. 

First I stopped by the Bluebird Organic Farm stand. I always get eggs here if I can. They are $5.00 a dozen and consistently rich with bright orange yolks. He had lots of different kinds of lettuce, plus carrots, rhubarb, purple asparagus, kale, and more. He said he's been growing in a high tunnel and has had a lot of produce so far this year.

 Next I visited the Harvest Valley Farms stand. I got their CSA for nine years and always stop by this stand at the farmers market if I can. If you sign up, you can become a farm fan, which means getting a text with what items are at the market and a discount on a certain product if you check in there. I picked up two bunches of asparagus (for $6.00), scallions, and pea shoots. He had lots of annuals, seedlings, and pretty pots filled with a mixture of flowers. There were also so many vegetables! Beets, tomatoes, leeks, spring mix, arugula, rhubarb, and probably more that I am forgetting.

After that, I stopped by Mill Creek Trout Farm. She had coolers full of protein in the form of trout (fresh, smoked, and frozen) as well as grass fed beef, goat, and pork products. Trout is their specialty and they will have it all summer long, each Monday at East Liberty Farmers Market. They had yellow, rainbow, and one other kind of trout in various cuts. The other products were from various members of her family. I picked up some frozen Italian sausage, one pound for $8.00 and hope to get trout another time.

Woolf Farms was there with apples, apple cider, and very tall and thin asparagus. Schramm's and Sand Hill Berries held down their usual spots, as did Who Cooks for You Farm (with lots of seedlings available). Plenty of prepared foods populated the parking lot: Fresh City Pasta (with lots of flavors or pasta and ravioli), Cinco de Mayo Salsas, and many more. I stopped by Family Farm Creameries to pick up some goat milk feta and sample a couple of cheeses made by Goat Rodeo in Allison Park.

Many of the Citiparks markets are open the rest of the week and based on my experience in East Liberty, you won't be disappointed if you visit! Check out their schedule here. Tuesday, South Side! Friday, Downtown and North Side! Other markets will open in June. And, on Thursday, the Market Square Farmers Market will open.

Please leave comments about any farmers markets you frequent!

Friday, May 6, 2016

May Market

Today and tomorrow, head to Phipps Conservatory in Oakland for the annual May Market plant sale. I spent some time there today and can preview some of what you can expect. First of all, the parking situation was pretty tough. I had to park about 3/4 of a mile away at the intersection of Frew Street and Schenley Drive. I heard some others talking about driving around for 45 minutes before finding a space. Because of that issue, you may end up parking far away from the plant sale. In that case, it might be a good idea to either bring a friend or bring a wagon. A friend can wait with your purchases while you swing by to load them in your car. It's tough to carry potted trees (which were available!), large hanging baskets, flats of annuals or other seedlings, plus any art work you may pick up if you are walking far.

I only saw one stand selling produce. This was from Cider House Farm Market, which is located near Zelionople. They have some "phat" asparagus and rhubarb. The owner used to be a grower herself but now stocks products from local producers. She has a cider press at her market and you can bring apples to be pressed in the fall! Cool. This could be a great place to visit for those who live nearby if you haven't been already.

There were many, many plants and seedlings for sale. I don't know how you might choose?! There were organic options and many, many varieties of everything, especially tomatoes. Two of the vendors right at the entrance were Garden Dreams and Blackberry Meadows Farm (which also sells produce in lots of places and has a CSA) who had a combined tent. These vendors, as well as a few others, seemed to be selling seedlings that they themselves grew, as opposed to ordered from somewhere else.

                                                                                                                                 Cherish Creamery was there as well with goat cheeses galore. They were offering free samples and selling lots of varieties. 
Other vendors such as Edible Earth Farm (produce producer and CSA), Who Cooks for You Farm (produce producer and CSA) and Grow Pittsburgh had many seedlings. I hope you get a chance to visit and pick out something for someone or yourself.                                                                                         


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Plant and Seedling Sales

If you are like me, than you do not grow your own produce from seeds and you did not plant any seeds yet. It is not too late to grow your own! But, you should probably act soon as some good opportunities are coming up.

Coming up tomorrow! May Market at Phipps! It used to be in Mellon Park, but it looks like it is now at the Conservatory in Oakland. Hours are 9:30-7:00 on Friday, May 6, and 9:30-5:00 on Saturday, May 7. You will be able to purchase herbs and vegetable seedlings, plants, perennials, soil, succulents, etc. There are sooo many vendors who will be there! What a great way to eat local. Plants some seedlings in your yard, on your deck, in a window box, on your front step, etc. Of course, the traditional strawberries will be served. Probably from somewhere else -- California? Phipps advises that some vendors will only accept cash.

Grow Pittsburgh, which grows seedlings at the Frick, Pittsburgh, will be present at May Market. If you can't make it to May Market, their seedlings are available at the Frick through June.

Also, coming up this weekend, Gardenfest at Laurie Ann West Community Center. The Fox Chapel Garden Club, Guyasuta Garden Club, Penn State Master Gardeners, etc, will be on site, selling their own home-grown plants. These are plants that have fared well under the green thumbs of local backyard gardeners. What better way to get plants that might work in your yard?

Alchemilla Mollis, Lady's Mantle


Someone from the Fox Chapel Garden Club gave me a list of perennials and shrubs that may work in my yard that is overrun with deer, rabbits, groundhogs, turkeys, etc. I don't think you can eat any of it, at least I don't plan too, but I just thought I'd include the information here in case anyone is curious. All of these will probably be for sale at the local markets as they fare well here, are often pollinators, and are not usually eaten by deer. The surrounding pictures were her recommendations for perennials. She also recommended Spirea and Spirea Japonica for shrubs. I can attest that the grasses and Spirea Japonica do not get eaten by the deer. I have both flourishing in my yard. I am hoping to be able to purchase the rest at the garden sale. I was told there would definitely be iris plants there. I look forward to being able to have some flowers!

If you are interested in other places to get seedlings, especially for vegetables and herbs, then you probably should check out Garden Dreams, in Wilkinsburg. Their seedlings are also sold at the East End Food Coop and Whole Foods if you can't get to the farm. It is worth the trip to the farm, though.  It's not far at all if you are in Pittsburgh. They have many plants available right now! They also have fruit trees and flowers and more. They have so many varieties as well. I know that a lot of our local farm markets sell seedlings as well. I have used Garden Dreams seedlings for the most part. I stick to growing herbs and lettuce (from seed) in planters up high on my porch because they have been the most successful for me. It is so great to be able to pop outside, pick some herbs or lettuce and add them right to whatever food you are eating or cooking. 

If you have a favorite place to get seeds or seedlings, especially if it is not by mail order, please share it in the comments.