I think it was a Saturday morning of the Fourth of July weekend when I saw Carl Hegerhorst look up to the sky in response to the same call I was hearing. It was during the quiet before the market bell rang and before he had settled into his chair. He was still unpacking his eggs and wood crafts when we heard geese passing over head. “That is the sound of freedom.” he noted, just loud enough for me to hear. The sound of freedom. I still hear Carl saying those words with his touch of a Dutch accent just about every time I hear Goose music overhead.
Carl is a keen observer of nature and human nature, and has a deep love of history and of the land he shares with his wife Pat in the upper watershed of Pena Creek. He also has many years of experience raising chickens, turkeys and vegetables in his hills of the upper Dry Creek Valley, and is a wealth of information. Learning from him was much more interesting than reading about “Protecting your chickens from Predators” in a book. Carl had warned us about the predators that are out there, and the need for secure housing for our hens, but we had to learn a lesson about such dangers the hard way.
When our Dominique hen was attacked by two stray dogs in June, my second thought was, “Why didn’t I ever ask Carl about what to do in this situation?” She was on her back, motionless, and blood and feathers were everywhere. I thought I would have to put her out of her misery, but when I picked her up and put her on her feet, she started scratching for food. After many trips to Ben and Laurel Baldwin and turning my bathroom into a cool and clean recovery room, she was laying eggs again within a month. She and Rosie now live in Fort Clucks, and are only free-range under supervision. What other wisdom has Carl been sharing with me that I should be paying better attention to?
For the past two years the market table has been Carl’s neighbor, and I have enjoyed listening to his stories. I also enjoyed the peace and quiet that he maintained under his blue, yes blue, SF Giants cap. Last year one market customer described Carl as “the Buddha-like figure of a man”; there is also the side of Carl with a wonderful laugh and knack for telling jokes, which kept many of his friends returning for more than just his fresh eggs every Saturday.
I gave Carl a call to ask if he would be joining us for the Opening of the Market on May 5th this year; he responded that it is time for him to have even more peace and quiet in his life. I will miss having Carl as a neighbor at the market; he has been a regular for many years. At one time Carl grew a wide variety of vegetables and brought them all to the market. He also would dress out sixty turkeys every year, and many chickens. Yet, with all the husbandry and cultivating happening at Pine Fall Ranch, he and Pat have learned to live with the native animals that surround them. Deer, mountain lions, wild pig, black bear, birds of prey, bobcats, and raccoons…all have created challenges, but the only creatures that Carl has had to raise a gun to are wild dogs. “I had to shoot twelve of them last year.” Carl told me. “What about the other animals?” I asked. “We just have to smile when they visit. Not too long ago, Pat walked out to the feed bin, and as she approached it she found herself thinking, “We don’t have an orange cat.’ The visiting bobcat had a feast that day.”
Carl’s stories about co-existing with nature often brought to mind the wildlife manager and conservationist, Aldo Leopold. I went to the website for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames, Iowa, and found the following:
“That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.
That wildlife is merely something to shoot at or look at is the grossest of fallacies. It often represents the difference between rich country and mere land.
In dire necessity somebody might write another Iliad, or paint an Angelus, but fashion a goose? …If, then, we can live without goose music, we may as well do away with stars, or sunsets, or Iliads. But the point is that we would be fools to do away with any of them.
A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.”
For many years, Carl and the bounty he brought to the market were living proof of the rich country we live in. As long as we can still hear goose music, Carl Hegerhorst will always be with us at the market.
Who and what will be new at the market this year? Who or what will be missing from the market? Opening Day is always full of surprises, most happy, a few sad. Here is a list of some of the fresh produce the farmers will truck into town this Saturday for the beginning of their twenty-ninth year.
There will also be tomato, basil, and other vegetable starts as well as pomegranate, thornless blackberries, and other plants.
Eleven Good Reasons for Supporting Our Local Farmer Markets
“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country, and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.”
A morning at the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market begins at 7:00AM on Saturdays with the arrival of those cultivators of the Jeffersonian ideal. I wave “Buenos dias,” across the empty parking lot to Senor De La Herran. The only other sound is the chattering of a Kingfisher along Foss Creek. Within the next two hours, twenty-five or so additional farmers will arrive, along with about twenty producers of agriculturally related products. Before the bell rings for the opening at 9am, this lot one block west of the Plaza will be transformed into a colorful, community gathering place.
Most of the Healdsburg farmers come from a ten mile radius of the market. Ramon is one of the exceptions; he farmed in the Healdsburg area for most of his life before moving to the San Joaquin Valley to be closer to one of his daughters a few years ago. We still reserve a stall space for him every year, the same one he has had for many years, and he makes the trip back to Healdsburg every week, May through November. The market wouldn’t be the same without him, and the many other familiar faces that customers expect to see in their usual stall spaces. He is one of many keepers of local agrarian wisdom at the Farmers’ Market.
Next, Myrna and Earl Fincher arrive from their “Early Birds’ Place” on Chalk Hill Road. “Did you see any Kingfishers on the way in?” A really good day begins with a sighting of three during our caravan into town: The first, where we have crossed the Russian River in Alexander Valley; next, at the north end of Foss Creek entering town on the Old Redwood Highway; and then the one on Foss Creek. Like most of the farmers, the Finchers live within a ten mile radius, as the crow flies, of the market.
The Finchers have counted more than forty species of birds on their land, and they farm with a concern for the long-term health of their soil, waterways, as well as the wildlife. I mention the birds because they are an indication of the health of the land resulting from traditional, ecological, sustainable farming, as opposed to the “Silent Spring” described by Rachel Carson in her book about the effects of industrial agriculture.
Although only about a quarter of the Healdsburg farmers obtain “organic” registration and certification through the State, most of the farmers, like the Finchers, use the best possible sustainable practices. As Wendell Berry put it, Jefferson’s cultivators “have lasting bonds…that are not merely those of economics and property…but that come from the investment in a place and a community of work, devotion, knowledge, memory, and association.”
When it comes to a concern for food safety, the best a customer can do is to look for “Locally Grown” sources and get to know the farmers who grow the food. The County Agriculture Commisioner’s Office provides certification to the market and each farmer to assure that the farmer has indeed grown what he is selling. That is probably the best certification a customer can look for in our sources of food.
Jefferson’s agrarian conviction to sustain as many farmers as possible in a democracy is my main reason for supporting, and now managing, the Farmers’ Market. There are many other good reasons for us to come together to buy our food directly from local farmers. In the country that invented the sterile, supermarket chainstore, we are seeing a resurgence of interest in purchasing food directly from the farmers, especially at a market owned by the farmers themselves. It is simply a return to the way farmers always sold their food, and the way customers purchased their food for thousands of years before cheap energy changed the distribution systems.
The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, or CUESA, put together the following list of reasons for shopping at a Farmers’ Market, which I have modified slightly.
Taste Real Flavors: The fruits and vegetables we buy at the Farmers’ Market are the freshest and tastiest available. Produce is allowed to ripen in the field and brought directly to us, thus eliminating the gassing to simulate the ripening process, and weeks of storage involved in long long-distance shipping. This food is as real as it gets –food fresh from the local farm. No wonder chefs and gourmets are the first to arrive at the market!
Enjoy the Seasons: The fresh food you buy at the farmers’ market is seasonal. It is harvested when it is ripe, so it is delicious and reflects the truest flavors. Shopping and cooking from the Farmers’ Market helps us to reconnect with the cycles of nature in this bend of the Russian River Watershed. As we look forward to enjoying asparagus in spring, savoring sweet corn in summer, or baking pumpkins in autumn, we reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the natural cycles of the year.
Support Family Farmers and your Local Economy: Family farmers are becoming increasingly rare as large agribusiness industries take over food production in the U.S. Small family farms have a hard time competing. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their hard work and gives them a fighting chance in today’s economy dominated by industrialized agriculture.
Protect the Environment: Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), while contributing to pollution and creating trash from excessive packaging. Industrial agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture, and its petrochemical by-products pollute our water, land and air with toxics. Food at the Farmers’ Market is transported shorter and grown with the most sustainable farming methods possible.
Nourish Yourself: It is a well proven fact that the less food is processed, and the fresher it is, the more nutritional value it contains for our health. Our farmers bring the freshest produce to the Farmers’ Market.
Discover the Spice of Life…Variety: At the Farmers’ Market we find an amazing array of produce that you might not see in your supermarket: a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, white peaches, stinging nettles, green garlic, prunes (fresh French plums), persimmons, and much more. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience first hand the diversity (and bio-diversity) of our planet, both cultivated and wild.
Promote Humane Treatment of Animals: At the Farmers’ Market, we can find meat, cheese, and eggs from animals that have been raised on natural diets without hormones or antibiotics. They have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of so many of their brethren raised in industrial feedlots.
Know from Where Our Food Originates: Farmers themselves sell their produce at the Farmers’ Market stalls. Purchasing food directly from farmers helps us reconnect with the source of our food, and the people who work so hard to bring us the most delicious and nutritious food available.
Learn Cooking Tips, Recipes, and Meal Ideas: Farmers, ranchers, and vendors at the Farmers’ Market are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to prepare the foods they are selling. The markets also hosts cooking demonstrations and. In Healdsburg, we collaborate with Toyon Books in hosting book signings with authors who are experts on culinary and agricultural topics.
Connect with Your Community: Strolling among outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day makes shopping a pleasure instead of a chore. The Farmers’ Market is a community gathering place—a place to meet up with our friends, bring our children, or just get a taste of the country in town.
Paula Downing, who manages the Sebastopol Market, told me that “the connection with all this humanity every Sunday morning, whether I know them or not, is one of the big reasons why I do this work. The other reason is the food of course.”
Paula grew up in farm country surrounded by mostly apples and peaches. She says that, “There is something profoundly important about good food…personally I feel that I am making a contribution to the greater good of the planet by managing the market-my work is meaningful…You can’t ask for much more than that.”
Maureen Miller gave me a good reminder a few years ago: “As the crops grow, the market grows.” Compared to the last two rainy springs, there was quite an abundance for the opening this spring, and in the coming weeks there will be more varieties of produce arriving.
I asked some of the market’s customers to reflect on their experiences of the Opening Day of the Market, and here is what they had to say:
We were glad to see Dave (Legro) the fish guy (with his wild salmon), as well as friends we had not seen in a while.
It felt so good to be strolling around the market again on Opening Day, enjoying perfect balmy spring weather and saying hello to friends. Bob and I brought my mom Willie along. She was cured by Dr. Toffee and bought some delicious garlic quark from Spring Hill Jersey Cheese. She also treated us to a lovely bunch of fresh parsley from Bert and Mary Villemaire, but alas, we late sleepers missed out on their delicious lettuces which no doubt disappeared quickly after the bell rang. Oh well…there’s always next week! It will take us awhile to get back into our Saturday morning routine of arriving before the bell sounds at 9! John Youngblood’s music set a cheerful mood for the day, and as always we ran into people we don’t see often, except at the market. We knew going in that it was early in the season and expected there might not be much in the way of tomatoes and other summer goodies, but it leaves something to anticipate as the season goes on and other delectable produce arrives. We look forward to all the bounty our great county has to offer and to seeing our friends enjoying their Saturday mornings. Having just returned from Italy, this was just what the doctor ordered for a mellow re-entry into Healdsburg life. If only the market happened all year…sigh.
Artist (designed market banners which hang from the lampposts)
It was wonderful to see the returning vendors and all their spring produce. And I also enjoyed seeing my fellow co-producers, some I have not seen as regularly as I do during the market season. I was most interested in getting the beautiful flowers which I needed for my Saturday evening dinner. I purchased three bunches… one from the Kiffs, and two from the Villemaires. I can now expand my menu considerations because I know I will get good, high quality, fresh produce at the market. Yesterday I got turnips from Yael, snap peas from Mary and Bert, and onions from from Ramon.
Leader of the our local Slow Food Convivium
….we had a delightful visit with the “Lavender Man” (Joe Armstrong). We were looking for more lavender for the garden and appreciated the vendor’s knowledge of the various types. During the course of our conversation I mentioned the beautiful fields of lavender in Provence to which he replied that his daughter had visited some of them. Another topic of discussion was the versatility of lavender, how it can thrive in Britain, a place not known for its long periods of hot, sunny weather, where its roots are often quite damp and, conversely, how well it does in the warm, dry Mediterranean climate.
It’s wonderful to see the variety of goods – the wide range of fruits and vegetables (even at this early time of year), the fresh salmon, cheese, bread, flowers, pottery, baskets, gardening advice and medicinal toffee, so well and humorously presented. All combine to create a colorful and stimulating appreciation of the earth and the handiworks related thereto.
Everyone I spoke to, farmers and patrons alike, seemed genuinely thrilled to have the farmers market back. Most folks were as excited to see the food as they were to catch up with the farmers! Oh, the fragrance from all the lovely flowers………..
Farmers’ Market Volunteer
Bob came home with wonderful lettuce and arugula and my most essential strawberries! I wait all year for Ramon to bring his berries to market – nothing as good as those fresh berries with my morning granola.
Sharyn Barney Sarquis
Lovely day. Even though I see many of the same people all year, it felt like “home” again, seeing them at the market, stopping to chat. Loved seeing the stalls and people I hadn’t seen all winter: Eric & Pascal of Pugs Leap (goat cheese), all the beautiful flowers, the fabulous bread, the music…. I bought one head of lettuce from Bert and Mary Villemaire, who always have big, beautiful heads of lettuce, and some mixed greens from Tom Noble…for a food & wine pairing dinner I hosted that night. Our out-of-town guests were envious when I told them the salad greens had just been picked that morning.
….I was in need of honey from Hector’s, and it was so nice to see his wife and daughter and try the creamed blackberry honey, which of course I couldn’t leave without. The music and smiling faces of the children as you make your way down the aisles sampling wonderful fresh cheeses, olive oils and not to mention the Doc selling his medicinal chocolates. And then a future farmer named Emma, selling worm castings for her (Westside) school ….that gives you so much hope for the future. I couldn’t wait to get home and cook with my fresh spring onions, garlic & fava beans and will continue to look forward to each Saturday morning.
Mary Pat Moore
In Season at the Market:
Tomato, basil, and other vegetable and herb starts. Pomegranate, thornless blackberry, and lavender plants. Dried lavender and fresh cut flowers.
Stop by the market table and share your discoveries. The farmers are donating a space next to the market table where you can sit and enjoy your coffee and food and conversation. An umbrella for shade will be provided by Mike Snowden, as well as straw bales delivered by Paul Kaiser and donated by Jon Wright’s Feed.
Mary Kelley is the manager of the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market. The Saturday Market takes place from 9:00 to Noon. The Tuesday market on the Plaza will begin June 5, and will take place from 4:00 to 6:30
Hypermiling and Reducing Food Miles 7-15-10
by Mary Kelley
It didn’t take tens of thousands of dollars to come up with a tagline for Art Read’s 1978 Farmers’ Market logo…. just a phone call to Renee Kiff five years ago. I asked her if we might have a contest to come up with a saying, and before the conversation continued any further, I heard her suggest, “What about ‘Trucking Produce to Town Since 1978?”
A few people have questioned the appropriateness of having an old truck in the logo as a symbol of our “green” market. It carries that huge ear of corn, and I drive the Market Truck, a ‘69 Ford Ranger, to transport parking barricades, tables, files, first aid kits, tool kits, etc. Both the cartoon truck and the real truck come from a time when fuel economy was not as much of a concern, and they both go fewer than 15 miles on a gallon of gas.
The market truck is only driven 30 miles per week, but when the cash for clunkers program was removing older vehicles from the roads, the market board had a discussion about the Market Truck. I will never forget Russ Messing saying, “That’s not a clunker, that’s a classic!” The board agreed that sometimes the greenest thing is working with the materials that already exist, rather than discarding the old and building something new. Thanks to mechanic Eric Compton, the truck is well maintained. The Market Truck carries a load that two smaller vehicles might otherwise have to carry.
Last Saturday, Heidi Herrmann and Scott Knippelmeir joined the market from Strong Arm Farm, and I was happy to see them arrive in a ‘73 Ford. Our market also has the Jimtown Store’s ’55 Ford, Sharon Vyborny’s ’49 Ford, and Russ Messing’s ‘89 Ford, among others. I also admire the old and smaller Toyota pickups that Emmett Hopkins, Yael Bernier, and Bert Villemaire pack so efficiently. Old trucks are weathered and they don’t have a blinding glare. They are also reminders of durability, something our market will celebrate this weekend at our 32nd Birthday.
In the big scheme of things, the Farmers’ Market is giving us a way to reduce “Food Miles,” a term that refers to the number of miles required to transport food from the field to the dinner table. The often quoted number from the Aldo Leopold Institute is 1,500 miles. Yes, that’s right; food travels an average of 1,500 miles, and our conventional food distribution system depends on the availability of cheap oil, and the burning of fossil fuels. On the other hand, 90 percent of the food at our Farmers’ Market comes from within a 10 mile radius of the Plaza. By purchasing a head of lettuce grown near Chiquita Road rather than one shipped from the Salinas Valley, or cheese from Petaluma rather than Italy, or garlic from the Dry Creek Valley rather than bulbs shipped from China, or local honey rather than cane sugar processed in Hawaii, or meat pastured locally rather than fed on corn grown in Kansas, we are collectively reducing our reliance on oil, and drastically reducing the carbon burned during long distance transport.
If you look carefully at Art Read’s drawing, there is a content looking farmer driving his truck. He is not in a hurry. He is Hypermiling. That was the Oxford English Dictionary’s new word of the year in 2008, and it refers to driving methods that maximize fuel efficiency. The best way to improve our Miles Per Gallon, to Hypermile, is to drive the speed limit…especially 55 miles per hour on the highway. Driving 70 miles per hour rather than 55 mph reduces fuel efficiency as much as 17 percent.
A few more Hypermiling tips:
Inflate your tires properly and keep your engine well tuned.
Don’t brake unless you have to
Leave room between your car and the car in front of you to allow for braking slowly
Don’t accelerate (too quickly)
Plan your route and do as many errands as possible in one trip
Empty the trunk
Avoid drive-throughs (lots of idling in a drive-through)
Drive shoeless (to have a better feel of the accelerator/brakes; if your windows are up and your air conditioning is off this will also help keep you cool!)
Drive the speed limit (or even a little slower on the highway)
Watch the crosswalk signs (to know if the light is going to change soon so you can slow down)
This weekend we will be celebrating the Farmers’ Market’s 32nd Birthday, so please join us for Carrot Cake baked by Carrie Brown, with roasted walnuts and real carrots and cream cheese frosting. We will be singing Happy Birthday and cutting the cake after the Cow Bell rings at 9 A.M. The farmers will also be providing free coffee. It is our way of thanking you for greeting us in town for 32 years, and purchasing our produce so we can Hypermile back to the farm with an empty load after the market.