It's berry season now and blueberries get top billing this week, although strawberries and raspberries will be backing them up. You'll also find a great selection of spring and summer produce, from broccoli to zucchini, as well as farm fresh eggs, milk, meat, fresh-baked bread, and all the great diversity of locally grown and hand-crafted products that our many different members contribute to the market.
This week we've got a special treat in store for you. One of Bowling Green's local treasures, gospel great John Edmonds will be performing at the SKY Farmers Market beginning at 9am, so allow yourself a little extra time at the market to be moved by the spirit this weekend.
The most precious treasures are not things but connections. Relationships. Every week at the SKY Farmers Market we celebrate our strong and personal connections to our local community and to you, our friends and customers who count on us to provide the best quality food and farm products for your family. Thank you for that opportunity.
We've got food, friends, and fun at the SKY Farmers Market this week.
See you there!
Live Music this Weekend at the SKY Market:
Gospel Legend John Edmonds
Bowling Green’s own John Edmonds began his professional gospel career at the age of fifteen, and has been going strong ever since. His repertoire includes tunes drawn from the golden age of gospel and popular songs given an inspirational twist, as well as his own compositions.
The John Edmonds Gospel Truth has toured throughout the US and five continents, delighting audiences with their vigorous arrangements, exciting vocals, and John’s own remarkable keyboard stylings. John has shared the stage with such greats as Clara Ward, James Cleveland, Ricky Skaggs, Della Reese, and Dottie Rambo, among many others. He has released 14 recording projects, most recently the CD A Word from Heaven, produced by Zachary Tichenor.
He now makes his home in Bowling Green, where he continues to pursue an active agenda of musical and literary projects, teaching, and work with Mt. Zion Baptist Church. He is a familiar face at SKY Market.
He will be joined on June 2 by his student, Erika Brady, professor in WKU’s Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology and senior producer/host of Barren River Breakdown on WKU Public Radio.
Just what does local mean, and why is it important to YOU, the customer?
“Local” is one of those words that has many shades of meaning, depending on the conversation. When I read Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life”, I was thrilled by her effort to eat “local” for a year, and inspired to do a better job of “eating local” for our own meals. But, just how is “local” defined?
For many, local is defined in terms of a certain number of miles from their home. For others, it is defined as within a particular county, state or even country. Our own definition is something grown as close to us as possible. Even more importantly, we prefer to purchase something that is grown by a person we can actually talk with.
The ability to look a farmer in the eye and ask about growing practices is one of the ways SKY Farmers Market is different from many farmers markets. In many farmers markets, the vendors may “buy in” some or most of what they sell, and it can come from out of state, or even out of the country. But, from the beginning, we designed SKY Market to be a “producer only” market. It is so important to us that farms are inspected each year, and in random re-inspections during the season, to assure that the produce being sold is produce being grown by that member. So, your produce purchases at SKY are indeed “local” in the best sense of the word.
But wait, what about those items that are available really early – like when the market opens, really late – like after first frost, or are even tropical in nature? How are those items being grown “locally”?
The answer is in “protected production”. More and more farmers in our area and across the nation are using row covers (covering on hoops over a row in the field), High Tunnels (essentially unheated greenhouses) and greenhouses to grow produce earlier, later, and in some cases, year-round. It has allowed SKY market to have a very nice selection of produce from opening day through closing day. And, each year, the selection variety grows.
So shop at SKY, on Fifth and High, where you can get the best of both worlds: assurance of locally grown produce and produce that is often earlier than outdoor production. First of June tomatoes, anyone?
Farmers and gardeners have a wide range of choices for extending the productive season of local crops, thereby reducing our reliance on mass produced and globally shipped food commodities. There are very real social, environmental, economic, health, and even national security concerns with the global food market, so it's well worth the effort to understand and take advantage of these season extension methods in local agriculture.
Protecting tender plants with cold frames and greenhouses is not a new idea. But in the last thirty years or so the widespread use of agricultural plastics has completely changed the nature and extent of what's possible. Instead of heavy wooden, brick, and glass buildings, modern structures are made from lightweight metal or plastic hoops and plastic sheeting or even lighter materials. Large areas can be covered quickly, easily, and inexpensively, making protected growing areas much more versatile and economical.
Floating Row Covers or "tobacco canvas" are the simplest type of covering for protecting plants from the cold. Made from spun-bonded polypropylene like extremely thin felt blankets, floating row covers are even thinner than plastic sheeting, allowing air, light, and water to pass through. It's designed to lay directly on top of plants, which easily lift it as they grow. Row covers provide a minimal amount of protection against frost, but create a warm, moist, gentle environment around tiny seedlings and young plants that allows them to get off to a good start several weeks earlier than unprotected plants.
Low Tunnels are short hoops only a few feet high that hold clear plastic sheeting or floating row covers, like a miniature greenhouse. Low tunnels provide better frost protection than floating row covers as well as a protected environment where plants can grow to maturity, allowing for strong growth of even earlier crops.
High Tunnels are tall, walk-in structures formed from hoops anchored to the ground and covered with clear plastic sheeting. They provide a large protected area that's semi-permanent, easy to work in, and much cheaper and easier to build than a traditional greenhouse. High tunnels can be very simple unheated structures or fitted out with double walled plastic, ventilation fans, heaters, evaporative cooling, lighting... all the trappings of the most high tech greenhouse. They provide extraordinary versatility limited only by the creativity, energy, and desire of the grower.
As useful as these new crop protection technologies are, they can have their drawbacks. Because of dirt and chemical residues, agricultural plastics aren't being recycled and are a quickly growing source of plastic trash. What's more, the indoor environment requires more irrigation water, energy to run fans, heaters, and other devices, and often higher inputs of fertilizers and pest management compared to outdoor production. On the other hand, when compared with food produced and marketed by the global commodities market, protected local production offers considerable benefits.
One of the simplest and most natural methods of extending the growing season is to simply grow a wide range of crops suited to different seasons and conditions. Spring, summer, fall, and even winter each have their own unique seasonal foods that are best suited to the time of year. While season extension techniques make it possible to grow popular foods out of season, smart shoppers have always known that the best foods are the ones in season. Adapting to local and seasonal foods is one of the best ways to enjoy a more healthy, flavorful, and varied diet.
By combining protected production with a diversity of seasonal crops, local growers in our region are capable of providing a great selection of fresh, seasonal foods throughout the year.