Today I visited the Farmer's Market at the corner of Maxwell and Broadway. That market is open Tuesdays and Thursday. The 7:00 start time is great because there is so much parking available and the produce is so fresh.
Watching people stroll rapidly to the market with their tote bags gave me such pleasure. I imagined the good smells coming from their kitchens this evening and the enjoyment their family and friends would have sharing such healthy food.
I only had about an hour this morning and visited with three different vendors. I felt rushed even then.
I was especially intrigued with Bill Best and his tomatoes. Bill is a retired Physical Education teacher but has been farming for nearly 40 years. Having farmed and taught most of my career I felt almost an immediate kinship with Bill. Bill is the founder of The Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center near Berea. He sells only tomatoes at the market but also has an on line business selling his tomato seeds and 50 varieties of beans. I tasted a few of his Rosalita's and was most impressed with the deep rich taste. It is almost a grape sized tomato. Not real sweet but very flavorful. I usually prefer a very sweet cherry but couldn't resist buying some of the Rosalitas even though we give away about three pounds of tomatoes every day from our own garden.
Bill's web site is http://heirlooms.org/ . I learned more about heirloom beans in the half hour spent with Bill than I could have ever imagined possible. Bill is passionate about helping save heirloom bean varieties. I am very eager to visit Bill at Sustainable Mountain Agriculture.
Carl McMaine a third generation farmer from near Bybee Kentucky about 45 minutes south of Lexington grows very a large variety of peppers, cucumbers, squash and more. Carl's tomatoes got hit by the late blight.this year and he lost all of his tomato crop. The first evidence of late blight usually shows up and within less than a week your tomatoes are wiped out. A recent opinion article in the New York Times blames the widespread blight on the increase in large numbers of starter plants that are shipped without good monitoring for diseases. Read Dan Barber's article at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/opinion/09barber.html
Carl starts all of his own tomatoes from seed on the farm. It may be possible though that another nearby farmer or small gardener bought their plants and the disease spread to the McMaine farm.
The perils of farming can only be endured by men and women who are passionate about their work. Where would we get our good food and knowledge of how to continue growing food without the Bill Best and Carl McMaines of Kentucky? Thank you!
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