This post originally appeared in the Bloomington Herald Times on January 25, 2006
Linda Chapman is a farmer, and her body telegraphs her outdoor life from the moment you meet her. She is tall, lithe, and strong, with her streaky gray-blond hair pulled back from a face deeply tanned in summer and her blue eyes crinkled with laughter and sun. Though she looks born to it, a farmer is the last thing Linda planned to become. Growing up in suburbia, she thought “farmers lived on some other planet” – and yet, here she is.
Thirty years after they bought a barren cow pasture out in Owen County, she and her partner, Deryl Dale, have transformed it into the lush and gorgeous Harvest Moon Flower Farm. Walking on to their property in summer is like that moment when Dorothy steps out of her black-and-white Kansas house and into a Technicolor Oz – dazzling color blazes from row after row of wildly beautiful flowers and berry bushes. What does she love best about being a farmer? “It’s waking up and walking out my front door and seeing beauty all around me. … It’s a good life” she says.
You probably know Linda, even if you don’t know you know her. If you are a Farmers’-market-goer, you’re sure to have seen her selling her striking floral bouquets. If you eat out in Bloomington restaurants, there is a good chance that the flowers on the table came from Linda’s farm. If you’ve attended a local wedding, it may have been Linda who decked out the church in floral splendor. And if you’ve been pining for fresh produce and local food products all year round, it is Linda you have to thank for the fact that the Bloomington Winter Market is launching its second year from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday in the Harmony School gym on Second Street.
As a member of Slow Food Bloomington, I’ve worked with Linda on the Winter Market for two years now, though it makes me blush to use the word “with,” since really Linda has done almost all of the work herself.
This year she has confirmed 24 vendors who will come to the Harmony School gym on alternate Saturdays to sell their fresh produce, meats, eggs, cheeses, breads, pastries, honey, mushrooms, herbs and dried flowers, as well as prepared foods – soups, salad dressings, heat-and-eat meals, and a hot prepared-on site breakfast.
Having a winter market is a boon for Bloomington shoppers- an off-season place to buy the good local products we come to depend on during the summer months. But the market is also a benefit for farmers, stretching the season from which they can expect to make money and encouraging them to find new ways to grow produce.
At Harvest Moon, Deryl constructed hoop houses – greenhouse-like structures with plastic stretched over a framed space big enough to work in – that allow Linda to keep planting and harvesting throughout the winter.
But that changes the cycle of her work year. She says, “Growing for winter harvesting entails the continuation of succession plantings thru September, October and November. Most farmers get to take a breath from this weekly activity by mid-to-late August if they’re just growing for the warm months.
“Not so for winter growers. We have to take advantage of the last warm and longer daylight months of September, October and part of November to get crops large enough and established enough to be productive in January, February and into March.”
Last year’s market was light on fresh greens and winter vegetables as area farmers hadn’t been able to plan ahead, but this year expect that to change. Join us on Saturday morning for a hot breakfast, some fresh bread, good local music and great winter farm produce.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Curry and Lime
At last year’s Winter Market, there were sweet potatoes galore. These addictive sweets are as easy as can be and work as a side dish, a snack, or, tossed with a little oil and lime juice dressing, as a salad.
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder (to taste – depends on your own preferences and the spiciness of the curry powder)
Sea salt or kosher salt
2 limes, cut into wedges
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the curry powder and set aside.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into small wedges or cubes, about 1 inch square. Toss potatoes with the curry butter so they are thoroughly coated. Spread on baking sheets no more than one layer deep.
Roast potatoes for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden. These will be soft – if you like a crispier potato, try running them under the broiler for a few quick seconds (watch carefully!)
When potatoes are done, remove to a serving platter. Squeeze limes over them and sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve hot, with additional lime wedges.
Serves about 6.
Winter Farmer’s Market
The second annual Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Market will begin its season Saturday when it will be open 9 a.m. to noon in the gym at Harmony School, 909 E. Second Street. The market will continue every other Saturday through March, open Jan 28, Feb 11 and 24 and March 11 and 25.
There will be salad greens, spinach, micro-greens/shoots, elk/venison/bison meats, eggs, squash, garlic, lamb, beef, gourmet goat cheeses, baked goods, fresh breads, kale, sweet potatoes, potatoes, maple syrup, honey, mushrooms, grist mill products, herbal products and plants, and prepared-to-eat foods.
The market is sponsored and supported by Slow Foods Bloomington. Parking is available in the Harmony School parking lot.
Curried Squash and Mushroom Soup
Excerpted from The Moosewood Cookbook
(Butternut squash, garlic and exotic mushrooms available at the market this week.)
2 medium butternut squash
2 1/2 cups water or stock
1 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 medium clove of crushed garlic
6 ounces exotic mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of cayenne
Bake squash face-down in 375-degree oven until soft (30 minutes). Scoop out insides (about 3 cup’s worth). Blend with water or stock until smooth. Combine in kettle with orange juice.
Melt butter and saute garlic, onion, salt and spices until soft (add a little water if it sticks). Add mushrooms, cover and cook 10 minutes.
Add saute to squash. Heat together gently. Serve topped with yogurt and chopped toasted almonds.
• Yeager Farms Produce: greens, carrots, onions, culinary herbs
• Biltz Green Houses: butternut squash, spaghetti squash, crooked neck squash
• Heartland Family Farm: eggs, greens
• Bloomingfoods: coffee, breakfast pastries and bread
• Bobbi Boos and John Byers: maple syrup, garlic, dried tomatoes, fresh herbs
• Harvest Moon Farm: greens, fresh/ dried herbs, wreaths, micro-greens, plants
• One Sky Farm: salad mix, various greens, sweet potatoes, herbal teas, soap, tomato sauces, jellies
• Seldom Seen Farm Inc.: greens
• Hobbit gardens: fresh herbs dried herbs, tea blends, wreaths/swags, herbal creams/salves, vinegars/oils, plants
• BLU Culinary Arts: handmade chocolates, pastry, brioche and other fresh breads
• Linnea’s Greenhouse: plants, herbs, some produce
• Grabow Orchard: baked goods, apples, cider, lettuce
• Indian Creek Farm: kale, spinach chard, collards, green onions
• Hunters Honey Farm: honey, beeswax products, pollen
• Pete Johnson and Leslie Smith: greens, potted herbs, winter squash, garlic, potatoes
• D and K Produce: sweet potatoes
• Middleway House: soups, salad dressings, ready-to-heat-and-eat-meals , dukkah, cookies
• Royer Farm Fresh Beef and Lamb: steaks, chops, roasts and ground meat – all pasture raised, no hormones/antibiotics
• Capriole Farm: goat cheeses
• Homestead Growers: exotic mushrooms
• Melody Acres: greens, root vegetables
• Double T Ranch: venison, elk and bison products
• Chris Vosters: grist mill products, kettle corn
• Harvest Lodge Traveling Cafe: hot prepared-on-site breakfast items (crepes, pancakes, frittatas), organic roasted free trade coffee beans, hot soups, tamales