I was wondering if my Thanksgiving foraging wasn’t a bit like the retail Black Friday games. I mean, I got up early so I could get to the New Haven Wooster Market before Trinity Dairy ran out of butter and cream. (Because I have pies, mashed potatoes, and whipped cream to think about!) Though the market was crowded with the usual bustle this market gets, it didn’t get down to a street fight over the last celeriac from Yale Farm.
So what’s different from the retail experience? For the most part, the cashiers at the farmers markets ARE the farmers or had some participation in the growing and harvesting of these products. I don’t think many clerks at Walmart worked in China, making the merchandise they ring up for you.
It’s highly likely that the retail shoppers don’t know their producers or the folks staffing the check-out. I don’t get to New Haven often (it’s city driving!) and it was fabulous to catch up with Patrick of Waldingfield, the folks from Stone Gardens Farm, Sankow’s Beaver Brook, and others.
As I’ve said here before, the Thanksgiving holiday is between the grower, the eater, and Provenance. It is very gratifying to thank these folks personally for putting food on my table all year long. And 2011 was an extraordinarily challenging year for us. Between Irene (with a six-day power outage that claimed 2/3 of my food stores), Lee (giving two weeks of on and off rain with no sun or wind), and Alfred (the pre-Halloween snow storm that also brought a six-day power outage), my food stores just weren’t up to their usual peak Autumnal levels.
My Thanksgiving forage took place over several days. In addition to the New Haven Market, Saturday was my day to go to Sport Hill Farm where Patti had several new rows of escarole growing. In fact, Patti has lots of new things growing, safely snuggled under row covers. I also went to New Morning Natural Foods on Saturday to get my milk and yogurt and various other sundries. The place was jamming because it IS a food holiday and they are predominantly a food store. It was great to see a number of produce items from Fort Hill Farm and Riverbank Farm and I scarfed them up. I was glad to get the Woodbury chestnuts, brought by a neighbor with some chestnut trees at this time every year.
On Monday, I set out bright and early for Pleasant Valley, NY to get my turkey from Quattro Game Farm. I was hoping to get one of the heritage breeds like Bourbon Red, but due to my size requirements, I got the broad-breasted white. Still, this baby was pastured and pampered and I love it just the same.
Quattro’s Game Farm is a family farm started by Camilla Quattrociocchi and her mother over 50 years ago. More here. Quattro Game Farm is related to Migliorelli Farm by marriage—how cool is that! (The Migliorelli’s are from Lazio, Italy which is not far from Tivoli, Italy and their farm in America is in Tivoli, NY—coincidence?)
The Quattro farm store is fabulous! Imagine an Italian specialty import shop crossed with a game farm crossed with a fresh produce farm in an area with even more local growers. Italian locavore mecca! I scored in the bounty department big time!
A little ways up the road, is Clinton Corners, NY, home to Wild Hive Farm Cafe, where we can get locally grown grains, among other things. Don’s cafe is an exceptional example of farm to chef, farm to table, and farm to consumer implementations. I stocked up on my grains and some other goodies available in this area.
Finally, no Thanksgiving forage would be complete without a stop at Holbrook Farm in Bethel, CT where John and Lynn (and friends) have been keeping it going for 34 years. John is a community resource. With his famous Rolodex, he pointed me in many good food directions over the years. In fact, it was John who introduced me to Quattro Farm and encouraged me to make the trip because he was certain I would love it. He was right!
Holbrook’s has also been busy with late season planting in an array of hoop houses. He’s brought on Jaqueline as the winter farm manager and expects to be able to provide fresh greens for several months through the winter.
Though I’ve said it many times before, I think it’s okay to be redundant in this regard: To all my farmers and farmers helpers, Thank You.