Are you finding that your grocery choices are inspired by documentaries like King Corn and No Impact Man? While you plan meals, are you taking Michael Pollan’s Eater’s Manifesto or Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to heart? Or do you just want another reason to “be in the neighborhood” and try out the Star & the Shamrock or Dangerously Delicious Pies on H Street? Either way, head on over to 635 H Street, NE for the opening day of the H Street Freshfarm Market this Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Your taste buds, your health and the environment will thank you.
Saturday’s event will also feature Casey Patten of Taylor Gourmet in a Chef at Market program from 10:30-11:15 a.m. Each week there will be at least 10 producers present, with Red Apron Butcher and Dangerously Delicious Pies joining the line this year. That’s right, you don’t have to walk the length of H Street for your Saturday morning pie fix. The producers selling their wares each week will include: Atwater’s Bakery, Blueberry Hill, Cedarbrook Farm, Clear Spring Creamery, Dolcezza Gelato & Sorbet, Garden Path Farm, Keswick Creamery, Quaker Valley F&O and Richfield Farm. Keep an eye on the Freshfarm Market calendar for events; you won’t want to miss USDA’s classroom kitchen on wheels on May 22 or the developing schedule of other Chef at Market events.
Each spring, summer and fall Saturday since 2004, bakers, cheese-makers, and farmers have gathered in the parking lot to sell their wares, eager to give you a taste of their locally-grown food. The H Street Freshfarm Market, one of 11 sites managed by the non-profit, is producer-only, meaning you’ll be buying directly from the individuals who’ve grown, raised, caught or hand-crafted what’s going on your dinner plate. Not only can you put a face with your food, but the faces are generally attached to friendly people who think nothing of you sampling a few kinds of gelato, cheese or heirloom tomatoes. Buying directly from these farmers lightens your carbon footprint as you eschew the gasoline, packaging and other environmental costs of shopping from chains and even many of the purveyors at Eastern Market.
I’m getting hungry just thinking about braving the construction on H Street to fill my larder come Saturday. Sure, food that’s direct from local independent farm costs more, but to compare mass-produced brand name products to the treats for sale each weekend is to miss the point of the quality these local producers offer. These owners don’t cut corners or pick too early; they bring what’s ripe and ready. The Camembert cheese from Clear Spring Creamery is definitely an example of the value of patience as well as some serious ripening. Buttery, stinky and worth every calorie, the cheese’s creamy yellow center is evidence of the Seibert family’s dedication to making quality dairy products in Washington County, Maryland, for more than 100 years. Paired with some crusty caraway rye from Baltimore’s Atwater ‘s Bakery, it screams for a picnic. Sure, whole-grain flour and sourdough starters give Ned Atwater’s hearth-baked breads and pastries their cache, but the crust alone keeps me coming back. I’ll top the meal off with Clear Spring’s delicious chocolate milk. That is if I don’t have a double serving of Dolcezza’s gelato before I even make it out of the parking lot. The white peaches from Quaker Valley won’t ripen for a few more months, but I have no doubt they’ll be juicy and perfect when the time comes, much unlike their distant cousins at Safeway. Mmmm….fresh peaches and gelato. It’s going to be a tasty summer.