How does a seed become a plant? (video)
By Julia Howard
Summer has officially begun and throughout the state, summertime activities have been re-imagined to ensure safety and to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Saratoga Farmers’ Market’s Power of Produce Club, or POP Club, will continue to offer children nutrition education with new take-home activities and online support.
Beginning on July 8, children can participate in POP Club by visiting the Saratoga Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays with their parents or caregivers. At the market, they will receive an activity bag “to go”. The POP Club activity bag will include a take-home activity, recipe cards, and a $2 POP coin that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market. POP Passports will not be handed out and stamped this year, but families can anticipate nourishing activities with complete directions and supplies. Although the club is open to children, it is especially geared toward those aged 5-12.
In addition to weekly POP Club ‘to go’ bags, parents and caregivers can visit the farmers’ market’s website for video tutorials and photos that pair with each activity. This online platform will give children and parents the opportunity to ask questions, share experiences, and connect with the farmers’ market for additional support.
“We are very happy to host our fifth season of POP Club with the generous support of the Christopher Dailey Foundation,” says Emily Meagher, market administrator. “It’s important that we give children the tools to be involved in agriculture and community, to help them understand that food and farming are intrinsically connected.”
POP Club continues to be a free program and will run for 8 weeks beginning on Wednesday, July 8, and running through the end of August. POP Club activity bags will be available at the green market information tent on Wednesday, 3-6 p.m. at the farmers’ market.
This season’s take-home activities include crafts, recipes, experiments, and information using seasonal fruits and vegetables as POP Club continues to give both children and their parents a chance to learn about local foods and farming in a hands-on way.
Buying produce with a POP coin gives children a chance to meet farmers, learn money skills, and make smart food choices.
This week’s recipe: Lightened Up Strawberry Shortcake
By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
School’s out for the summer. No lunchboxes to fill, no homework, fewer structured activities, and more free time. It’s a perfect time to add a Wednesday family outing to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market for the Power of Produce Club.
Power of Produce, or POP, is a free 12-week program at the market. It begins next Wednesday, June 26, and runs through early September. The goal is to help children learn more about where their food comes from.
Children can join the POP Club by visiting the Saratoga Farmers’ Market with their parents. Each time members visit the market they receive a $2 POP coin that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, children receive a POP passport that is stamped at each visit. After receiving four stamps, children are eligible for a prize. Although the club is open to children, it is especially geared toward those aged 5-12.
Buying produce with a POP coin gives children a chance to meet farmers, learn money skills, and make smart food choices.
In addition to the POP coins, the POP Club features weekly activities and music. The Christopher Dailey Foundation sponsors the program and several community partners host the club’s activities. Opening day will feature music by first-time market performer Jeannine Ouderkirk, a Humpty Dumpty craft activity sponsored by the Saratoga Springs Public Library, and a sampling of Shushan Hydro Farms’ cherry tomatoes.
Julia Howard, formerly the market coordinator, started the POP Club at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market four years ago. This summer, her five-year-old daughter Taiga will be a club member.
“With a climate crisis and pesticide-ridden foods in our present day, it’s so important that children understand where their food comes from,” Howard says. “It’s important that we give them the tools to be involved in agriculture and community, to help them understand the impacts of climate change. The POP Club is a great outlet for children to get involved and to learn how to make changes on a local and worldwide level.”
To join, look for the green POP Club tent at the Wednesday market, across from the market information booth.
By Marley Bonacquist-Currin
A year ago I left the United States in my hiking boots with high hopes of learning to save the planet. Three months later, having learned a lifetime of lessons from a 100 person eco-village in Iceland, I returned to my home country, full of excitement and enthusiasm for doing what I loved and for helping our world by living what I had learned.
And quickly I began to feel as though my dreams were being crushed like a bug.
I walked into grocery stores full of packaging and plastic-looking produce. After a semester of growing everything but the kitchen sink, my heart sank. I felt as though I had fallen into a dream at Solheimar, the eco-village in Iceland, and had been brutally awakened by a harsh reality back home that people don’t care.
Then, an internship with the Saratoga Farmers’ Market popped up. It felt like a match made in heaven, and happily, it was, right here on earth.
This summer, I’ve run barefoot through High Rock Park on rainy days, laughing with the vendors as thunderstorms and torrential showers have hit, sweated on sunny days while sipping real-food smoothies to cool off, and be surrounded by fresh produce and wonderful people.
When I came back from Iceland to my world as a Siena College student, I didn’t feel at home. At the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, I realized home was amongst the berries and beans, mushrooms and melons. The positive energies and fresh local foods remind me that people do care. Packed from open to close, with kids flooding in on Wednesdays to spend their Power of Produce tokens on fresh blueberries and string beans, the market suggests that there is a generation of people growing up barefoot in the grass, eyes full of wonder, who believe that farmer’s markets are the real grocery stores.
As my last semester at Siena College begins, I look forward to helping businesses realize the planet is worth saving through farmers’ markets. I want my generation and others to know that it’s time to get started.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is at High Rock Park, 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through October. We move to our winter location at the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park on November 4.
By Julia Howard, Saratoga Farmers’ Market Director
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market has wrapped up its first-ever Power of Produce Club for the summer. However, as fall approaches, market vendors, volunteers, and staffers encourage parents and their children to continue the journey of connecting the food they eat to the farmers that grow it.
The club began in June with support from a $500 grant from Stewarts Shops, and took place during each Wednesday market from June 1 through August 31. Children between the ages of 5 and 12 received a passport and a $2 POP token to spend on fresh produce. They participated in a range of activities that included tasting and planting herbs, creating fruit cone snacks, using the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office’s bicycle blender to create a smoothie in a blender powered by a bicycle, preparing granola balls and fruit kebab rainbows, going on vegetable scavenger hunts throughout the market, and talking with farmers to learn about healthy food.
“We loved it,” said one mother, Courtney, whose three-year-old daughter Althea was a regular POP Club participant. “It’s teaching kids about eating local and about eating fruits and vegetables.”
Another participant was Anika, age 6. “Anika loved using the tokens and getting to buy her own fruits and vegetables,” said her mother, Marketa.
Children who participated in the POP Club received a stamp on their passports and prizes each time they earned four stamps. They included BPA free water bottles, baseball bats and balls, jump ropes, herb growing kits, and sidewalk chalk. More than 25 children received these prizes over the course of the summer.
“This has been our favorite thing to do on Wednesdays,” said Stephanie, the mother of four-year-olds Xander and Lydia. “We love coming and getting a stamp on our passports.”
As a mother myself, my goal was to educate children about healthy eating first. I also saw the program as a way to build stronger connections between the market and the communities we serve. I was delighted to welcome Stewarts Shops, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Serendipity Arts Studio as participants. We look forward to continuing to see parents and children at our market, and will continue to offer healthy eating tips in our online newsletter every week.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market takes place 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at High Rock Park.
Adapted from www.tasteofhome.com
This healthy snack is as fun to make as it is to eat! We found this to be one of our favorite POP Club activities and we hope you enjoy it too.
*Ingredients available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
• Fresh seasonal fruit (blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, raspberries) *
• Vanilla or maple yogurt *
• Small ice cream cones
Prepare fruit by cutting or scooping into bite sized pieces. Small fruit such as berries may be left whole. Fill ice cream cone with fruit and top with a scoop of yogurt.
By Carolyn Shapiro
Located in Salem, New York, Blind Buck Farm is home to a variety of fiber-bearing animals, whose fleece is hand-collected, made into yarn and roving at local mills, and returned to the farm to be dyed with metal-free, nontoxic dyes. “By keeping our own flocks, we can guarantee that all of our fiber is natural,” says owner Lubna Dabbagh.
A favorite yarn produced at Blind Buck is their Signature Blend which combines Merino mohair and Leicester longwool. Dabbagh notes that the fun part of yarn production is choosing a variety of colorways for the finished product. Inspiration comes from the abiding colors on the farm as well as from nature itself, including flowers, exotic fish and birds. The result is a delightful combination of tones from earthy to bright.
The farm is home to 25 purebred Angora goats, 30 Merino sheep, and seven Angora rabbits, all of which produce rare and exceptional fibers. In 2014, Blind Buck also acquired a flock of four Leicester Longwood sheep, an acutely endangered species. According to Dabbagh, contributing to the propagation of a rare and endangered species is one of the farm’s proudest accomplishments. All of the animals on the farm are naturally raised, spending the summer months in pastures. During the winter, they are fed a diet of organic hay and grain.
In addition to fiber products, Blind Buck Farm cultivates many uncommon vegetable varieties. Among these are chocolate bell peppers, chocolate tomatoes, Delmonico squash, and watermelon turnips, all grown from organic and heirloom seeds, and never treated with chemical pesticides. Dabbagh also raises turkeys and chickens which are housed in pastures and fed organic grain. Eggs produced by the hens are a colorful array of blue, brown, and white, which customers call “the Easter egg collection.”
Back to the land is the sustaining principle of Blind Buck Farm. Conscious of the impact of high quality goods on the sustainability of community and environment, Dabbagh advocates the purchase and use of local products to nurture and support local economies. As Dabbagh says, “I always point out that during this last economic downturn if communities had been more self sufficient, with more exchange of local goods and services, many families would have suffered less than they did.”
Open all year, Blind Buck Farm has a store on the farm which carries their full line of yarn products and produce. Dabbagh encourages visitors to tour the farm, sample produce, and taste the fresh farm eggs. A special delight of a visit to the farm is letting children gather their own eggs from the chicken coop . In addition to the farm store, Blind Buck’s products can be found at the Saratoga, Bolton Landing, and Warrensburg farmers’ markets where Dabbagh also offers free knitting instruction.
Visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market at High Rock Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays.