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Summer Abundance Hits Great Falls Farmers Market

Local farmers offer an array of healthy, tasty, fresh produce.

Summer is upon us. Our bountiful “local” earth is birthing forth a stunning array of healthy, tasty, fresh produce for our nourishment and good health—just picked the day before they are brought to market. Farmers-market devotees know the difference between a fruit or vegetable that’s been “flown in” —no matter the growing process—and produce that is still full of life.

We welcome Leopoldo & Dora Beltran of Penn Farm, Gonzalo and Alma Diaz and their son of Diaz’s Berries & Veggies—Gonzalo Jr. sells at our market—and Sergio Izaguirre (fondly known to us as “Junior” when he used to sell at our market for his Aunt Dora several years ago) and his parents, wife, brother and sister-in-law who own Crazy Farm, so named because everyone thought they were crazy to try to make a living at farming. They rented two acres to start with two years ago, and have added another few acres since. Dora, Alma and Sergio’s mother are all sisters, so all the local production of fruits and vegetables from these three vendors are among aunts, uncles and cousins. They differ in farming practice, however. Penn Farm is a 60-acre farm that plants with a tractor, and selectively sprays—only as needed—to resolve specific pest problems. (You can ask what has and has not been sprayed, when, and with what.) Gonzalo Diaz, on the other hand, works 5 acres in Westmoreland County, and tends peach orchards in Maryland, planting everything by hand, selectively spraying a fungicide as needed after heavy rains.

HIS SPECIALTY is growing fruits and berries. His dream is to have $50,000 in his pocket to purchase 10 acres of land so that he can fill it with fruits and berries of all types. (Can we help him make his dream come true?) Sergio has not sprayed at all this year. When his potato crop suffered with potato beetles, his entire family went to the field to hand-remove the beetles from his plants. Their farm is small enough and their family is large enough to use a “manual removal” intervention. He has been learning about and adapting integrated pest management techniques, and is definitely interested in and working on learning organic practices.

On July 11, Jean Pope, a resident of Great Falls and long-time farmhand of Potomac Vegetable Farms, will join our market to sell fruits and vegetables from that farm. First certified organic by the state of Virginia in 1991, they decided to not seek federal certification in 2004, but continue the same practices—which they call “eco-organic.” PVF is as local as can be, being situated just down the road on Leesburg Pike. They fully trust the design of nature and follow the practices of organic composting, use of fish fertilizer, crop rotation, crop diversity, use of cover crops, etc. which minimize the emergence of pests that must be dealt with. They have been reluctant to join our market, as they participated in a Great Falls Farmers Market 20 years ago and found that local Great Falls residents are not supportive of their local farmers market. We have convinced them to give us a try and we sincerely hope that you will make our local market your top priority destination. Without your specific personal decision to support our community’s local farmers market, it is very difficult to persuade vendors to come our way.

We are just delighted to celebrate all of the local small businesses owned by Great Falls residents that have been formed specifically to participate in the Great Falls Farmers Market.

LAST WEEK, Plain & Simple, LLC launched their organic muffin company at the market. Caro’s Creations, a craft company owned by Carolyn Amano, a 10-year-old resident of Great Falls, sells duct-tape wallets, purses and phone cases of all colors, sizes and shapes handmade by Carolyn. Aliya Pandolfi, owner of Al-Kareem Foundation, launched Kashmir-Rose at our market to sell scarves, jackets, dresses and purses made by a coup of 150 families from Kashmir. The profits from the sales go to train a new generation of crafts people in that region. Emily Doerman, registered dietitian and certified chef (daughter of Dr. Randall Doerman of Colvin Run Road), has launched a nutritional counseling business that advises on eating right and living a healthy lifestyle including controlling cholesterol and blood sugar. She demonstrates healthy recipes and provides tastes at our farmers market. These local businesses are in addition to Amalthea Ridge Farm’s goat-milk based soaps, lotions, and bath fizz made from the milk of local goats; and Backyard Eden Honey, locally cultivated and owned by Jeff Rainey.

Each Saturday, think of the Great Falls Farmers Market as your starting place for grocery shopping, buying a gift, a place to meet your friends, have conversations, enjoy the vendors, have a snack, delight in the local music, try new tastes, watch a cooking demonstration, while purchasing the finest local ingredients. During the month of July, we will be raising the “sustainability” question: How can we preserve our summer crop for nourishment in the winter? How can we ensure that very little of what is locally grown goes to waste? How can extra food go to those in need? The market will focus on the techniques of canning, preserving, pickling and drying the many “fruits” of summer abundance for your winter fortification and nourishment. Please check our website at www.greatfallsfarmersmarket.org for the schedule of events, and please like us on Facebook: Great Falls Community Farmers Market for timely updates.