Let’s begin with lovely Lulu’s gardening class before we get to Farmers Market Haul.
Shelley, Lauren, one of Lulu’s co-workers and Lauren’s husband, Chris, along with me, were students in Lulu’s backyard for her first-ever gardening class. Lu has been gardening since she was a child back in her homestate of Pennsylvania. It was always one of her aspirations to create an edible garden where she could cook and share her plantings. Since she purchased her home over 8 years ago in the PicFair District of Los Angeles, she has fashioned a dozen raised beds where many varieties of home-grown edibles have ripened to seasonal perfection. Being an urban/surburban kid and thinking for many years that vegetables came hidden in a supermarket’s underbelly, I’m massively awestruck by her cultivation of cantalopes and watermelons…. along with being supplied gifts from her seasonal harvests which have included lettuces (romaine, red leaf, and green leaf), tomatoes (some which she has used for canning and I used for sauces), cucumbers, artichokes, eggplant, basil, spaghetti squash, raspberries, blueberries, lemons, limes….and on and on. In each one of the approximate 2 1/2 feet by 6 feet areas, the soil has been tilled, rested and loved to reap some of the most deliciously edible gems I’ve had. There is nothing like direct farm to table to do a body good.
In this class, Lu’s immense knowledge was demonstrated when she dug up her compost turning out a dark, rich and thoroughly alive concoction with do-gooding worms (pictured). The class was a fully active hour and a half experience. For this city slicker, it still shows the difficulties of being a 21st century farmer. Farming is an arduous task. It’s about the right amount of water, sun and nutrients but I can absolutely see it’s rewards for the grower as I was rewarded cuttings from Lulu’s hardwork such as baby kale, zucchini, squash blossoms, and fresh mint.
All of this, on this Memorial Day weekend, brings me to Farmers Market Haul. Today, it was tiny Japanese bell peppers (Yakatori Farms), purple baby artichokes (SunCoast Farms), beautiful frisee, mizuna and baby chard (Windsor Farms), green Zebra Rita’s and baby spinach (McGrath Family Farms), small sweet Maui onions for grilling (Can’t remember the farm…), and rosemary (ABC Rhubarb).
(It was a small shopping excursion as I had the vegetables Lulu gave me from the class.)
I love the Hollywood Farmers Market. A weekly Sunday ritual like heading to church without the pie bake off at the end. It’s reminiscent of NYC’s Union Square Market. I prefer HFM before 11:00am, before my shins are black and blue from the strollers, wagons and pushcarts but still appreciate that families bring their kids to learn about food and its production. I love the urbanity of it: hipsters with their multiple canvas bags; the mid-thirty parents, who gave their nanny the day off, and are clutching too many children and too many vegetables; the single women holding onto lattes and the bottom of their maxi-dresses; the married gay men, leering over organic zucchini and the street musicians giving the market it’s soundtrack.
There’s no competition between farmers. One of the farmers didn’t have Bloomfield spinach, a fave lovely lettuce, and pointed me to another canvas stall ala “Miracle on 34th Street”/Macy’s vs. Gimble’s sort of way. I feel like this is the way life should be, simple, uncomplicated, free of CNN’s ticker tape, which is located around the corner.
One of the great things at HFM, I get to learn about my food and ask questions of the individual purveyors. I get to know them, they know me. They become a constant. I like that. It’s a small village atmosphere in a metropolitan city. The market is there to serve and keep me, in my mind, safe…that’s why I go. Its one of the few times in my week…when out of my car and out of my apartment… I feel sheltered and we are there to buy nourishment and feel nourished.
And…no matter what I think of war or our politicians, it’s people whom I’ve known such as the farmers who had many children go to war, who help feed the young men and women who have served our country….to both, I salute you.