The stand is up. This week, we miraculously finish with 10-15 minutes to spare, so everyone jumps in help weigh out zucchinis, carrots, beets, and cauliflower for restaurant orders. We keep regular accounts with 100 Mile Bakery in downtown Springfield, as well as Ciao Pizza on Gateway Road, and I pretty much always end up filling them last-minute once the market is ready. We choose the highest quality bunches, best looking zucchini, and throw in a few extra leaves of spinach rather than risk short-changing them. On the one hand, these types of orders would be the best candidates to get imperfect produce, since they'll chop it up and cook it before anyone else sees it, but I tend to reserve the highest quality for them since a) they order reliably every week, b) we're selecting it for them-- they don't have the opportunity to choose between bunches like our market customers, c) they could start ordering from other farms if our quality lags, and d) there's just a degree of professionalism and quality that exists in the industry, and I want us to stand out.
So we hook them up. Two packed wax boxes full of beautiful veggies land in the back of my truck. I remember to hang produce bags, update the CSA and price chalkboards, check in with the youth managers one last time, and hit the road. Since Ted's not here this week, I'm anxious to get back to the farm, but instead I send Michael back as soon as we're ready, and I make all the deliveries. To Ciao first. Chat with David, the owner, about dreams of visiting Italy and how to prepare fennel (they use a lot) as he writes a check for us. Then downtown to 100 Mile, where a few employees are as always thrilled to see me walk in the door with a box. They open it up right away and start commenting on all the items: spinach, garlic, cauliflower... They're genuinely in love with the veggies. I consider lingering and eating lunch there, but as usual I want to finish my mission before I take a break. At least today, I can feel the long morning melt away a bit as I walk back into the sun. No more produce to get out of the sun. Everyone back at the farm has projects to keep them busy. I can take my time today.
I drive across town to the giant Willamalane recreation center, where we've opened a new drop site for the CSA this year. Michael delivered the full totes yesterday, and I come to swoop them up on market afternoons so we can re-use them next week. The staff are friendly, let me go through the back door nearest the CSA area, and I get them all into the truck-- only one box is still full of produce. The rest, I imagine, is already in fridges, half eaten, waiting on counters to be washed and chopped. By this time, I'm famished. Some days I hold off to get back to the farm to eat, but today I just sit in the truck, baking in the sun, and plow through my wrap and a couple rice crackers. I had big plans to take a whole hour for lunch on this extra-long day, but I can't sit still for that long. There's too much to do back at the farm, and it's more relaxing to know that they're getting done that just sit here thinking about them. No mind-taming today. I cruise back across town, convince myself to stop for a cold drink on the way, and swing out of the truck with determination: two and half hours to do some farming before I re-enter the Market Zone at closing time.
Stay tuned for the titillating conclusion of this series next week! ;)
Unrelated to market zone, here's Sophie showing off an overgrown specimen of the fascinating kohlrabi: