A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Monday, August 07, 2006

P is for Produce ....

Local, that is!

We are in the midst of the season of glorious, riotous abundance here in California, as evidenced by this pile of massive tomatoes at the Oroville Farmers' Market Saturday morning. The California of my childhood was the breadbasket of the nation, and even though we now import much of our food, I can still drive past fields of rice, sunflowers, beets, tomatoes, strawberries, orchards of almond, peach, plum, nectarine, pluot and more trees, all favored by the hot summers of our Mediterranean-style climate.

The Sacramento of my college days was in the process of renaming itself "River City" , trying to get away from the "Sacratomato" moniker that resulted from the strong smell of cooking tomatoes that lingered over the city throughout August and September each year as the canneries put up the harvest... I still get nostalgic smelling blanching tomatoes or cooked pasta sauce.

Farmers markets and small market gardens and family farms cannot compete with the large-scale industrialization of agriculture, but have definitely gone through a resurgence in the past decade, with every medium-sized town having at least one designated morning or evening a week when fresh produce markets are set up. Chico, Nevada City and Grass Valley have expanded this concept to host an evening of entertainment each week in conjunction with the farmers market, bringing people and culture back together on the streets.

A vendor arranging flower bouquets, for sale next to a large pile of pattypan squash.

The small growers are working to preserve and bring to people unusual and heirloom varieties of tomatoes, and speciality items not found regularly at the mainstream grocery chains. I saw lemon cucumbers, yellow watermelon, japanese eggplant, and six different heirloom tomatoes, along with a variety of herbs, at the various farm stands, and chatted with a young man who is growing 20 different kinds of vegetables on his one-acre plot, which is about what one person can manage to tend to alone!

Summer is also about babies, as evidenced by these two swallows, about to fledge from their nest above the door to my friend Cheri's antique shop in downtown Downieville. I know it has nothing to do with the letter "P", but couldn't resist sharing the shot.


Anonymous eva gorman said...

Such beautiful photos of our Sacramento Valley's bounty. I love driving through all the orchards and farms watching the growing seasons as I drive up to our home. Why, even in the tiny town of Indian Falls has a wonderful farmers market at the Dawn Institute Saturday Mornings. We are so fortunate to have such beautiful produce and fresh fruits right at our doorsteps!

8:58 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Gorgeous photos!

I hear you about the boxes...I am contemplating buying more for my yarn that is starting to take over my office & closet.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Neena said...

Oh wow! How did you keep from buying everything at the farmer's market? :-) That's one thing we SO don't have here, and I REALLY want.

Love the parting shot.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

I wanna come visit you!

1:14 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

What lovely produce! Yummy.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Tactless Wonder said...

What Neena said...you gave us a "P"arting shot of "P"roduced lil' birdies :).

5:59 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

The produce is gorgeous. I always buy more than I can eat at those. Lucky you~

8:16 PM  
Anonymous sheepshepherdess said...

I love the farmers markets. Growing up on a fruit farm myself. We try very hard to support our local farmer. We are so fortunate to be in such a wonderful area that it is so easy to eat seasonaly with incredible variety. Thanks for stopping by it's nice since I am a new blogger. I will attend the N.C. Fairbut on Thursday, my favorite fair. Still has the old fashion feel.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Vicki Knitorious said...

Mmmmmm. I can't help but think SALSA!!

5:36 AM  
Anonymous susan said...

I am so envious of the wonderful selection of produce you have available. The weekly Farmer's Market here is very *eh*

8:09 AM  
Blogger margene said...

Yum,yum, yum...love the swallows, too. We had a nest in our carport that the neighbor took down as he found bird poop on his car.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Carrie K said...

I always thought Sacramtomato was Dr. Don Rose being silly.

Our tomatos are in full swing. Salsa. Gazpacho. Pasta Primavera. My favorite time of year.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Purple Fuzzy Mittens said...

Those tomatoes look so beautiful! I want socks that color. And maybe even a sweater. At the least, they've inspired me to go make a tomato sandwich.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Oh those perfect sunkissed tomatos. I am making some salsa today with our farmer's market tomatos.

Birdsong, your nest is good luck you know. My irish grandmother always says someone you know will have a baby soon.

6:47 AM  
Blogger The Purloined Letter said...

Excellent post. Did you knit it is National Farmers Market Week? (http://www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/)

9:54 AM  

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