Friday, October 26, 2012

Author Homegrown Book Signing At Long Beach Farmers Market October 27

Bernadette Martin is a force of nature.
A homegrown hero ready made for a Sundance documentary.
A Future Farmers of America (FFA) who made good on the dream.

Martin’s passion and knowledge of horticulture and local agriculture is what fuels the success of Nassau County’s Long Island Farmer’s Markets.

After years of dedicated work as a farmer’s inspector with the New York City Greenmarket network and credentialed practice within the burgeoning field of horticulture therapy, Martin returned to her roots in Long Island only to find to her great distress, that there was “nothing to eat.”  

Something had been lost. In 2008, she found the area more “food challenged” than it’s true pedigree of homegrown.

Foodstuffs grown in the unique soil and terroir of Long Island had long had a reputation for the flavor it imparts to the vegetables and fruits. Same with the waters.

So what’s a foodie to do? Martin called her legislator in town to secure support in order to establish a local farmer’s market.
“That was in March. By July – we were up and running as Long Island Farmers Market,” Martin recalls with justified pride.

For anyone who has not worked in agriculture, it’s worth pointing out that in this geography and growing zone zip code – even up and down more than a few numbers on the scale, there isn’t a busier time on the farms except for the harvest. 
The fact that Martin helped coalesce the local food market is a huge accomplishment – and within such a small window of precious seasonal spring -- is nothing short of a miracle...

And the accomplishment also reveals her personal relationship to the land and the water – and to the professionals who yield food from nature here.

“You have to know them,” noted Martin, explaining how she was able to get the local farmers on board – and so quickly.
“You have to be someone they respect, “she added.

Basically, through networking and persistence, Martin single-handedly called the producers, starting with a clutch of New York’s favorites, including Red Jacket Orchards (LOVE their Tart Cherry juice!), B&J Organics, fishermen from Oceanside and Freeport, and Bread Alone
From there, it was word of mouth that encouraged other producers to join the ever-growing greenmarket.
Today, the Greenmarket provides a cornucopia of food including certified organic vegetables and greens, Long Island corn, heirloom tomatoes, potatoes, squash and onions, fresh fruits and juice, cheese, milk, wine, pasta, pickles, regional shellfish and fish, and baked goods.

Rob Carucci, a second-generation Mattituck, Long Island farmer whose Carucci Greenhouses & Farm produces mouth-watering, organic food in just about every season, offering a vast variety, including pumpkins, leeks, bok choy, radishes, eggplant beans, eggs, squash, and of course, Long Island corn and the Carucci specialty: tomatoes.    

A certain fast food company may lay claim to a special sauce but Rob says his father has a truly special way with food. 
“If he’s not farming; he’s in the kitchen cooking,” he says with a smile.  “And he loves to share his recipes with our customers.”
Rob goes on to say how his father has a way of working with the already unique Long Island soil.  “It’s a family secret that all our customers swear makes the tomatoes so flavorful,” he explains
“Everyone loves them,” claims Carucci.
The eight varieties of Carucci tomatoes include Pick Red, plum, several varieties of heirloom, grape, tomato, cherry and Sun Gold.

The Carucci’s have been part of Martin’s circuit of greenmarkets since she launched them in ’08. 
“She fantastic,” said Carucci.  “Bernadette runs one of THE best Greenmarkets.  They are professional; she knows how to market them; and there is great camaraderie, “ he explained, noting that prior to working with her in Long Island they had worked the NYC greenmarkets.

His father bought the farm 33 years ago and the expanded family continues to nurture the 37-acre farm -- and seven very large greenhouses  -- that supply homegrown food to Island residents and nearby chefs. They’ve even grown specific items when chefs ask them to.  “We had a local pickle company ask us to grow things for them too,” he commented.

When asked how to describe their customers, Carucci said “Greenmarket customers are more educated, more sophisticated, health conscious and very loyal.”
“They want to connect with the farmer.”

He was quick to point out they don’t use any herbicides or use any GMO’s.  “We eat this too,” he says by way of explaining their commitment to organics.

There is sense of discovery at greenmarkets.  The unmistakable, “What is this?” that prompts a conversation. So too, do the seasons.
The market offers recipes from the growers.
A registered dietician on Martin’s staff produces healthy homegrown recipes that shoppers can get free from the newsletter.
And culinary conversations abound within the shoppers themselves. Mothers conferring with other mothers about dinner or a lunch to make for school.
Romantics seeking out that special, savory ingredient sure to please their loved ones.  

And there are endless, local twists on a recipe or seasonal menu drivers. 
Carucci notes the difference in the local markets and the diversity of food traditions just within his circuit of food markets in Nassau County.
Moreover, Carucci confirms there is a palatable sense of community the Farmers Market foment.

The farmers markets invigorate the local economy,

There is a reverence for food that permeates a greenmarket that cannot be overlooked.
Embrace it.

If culinary art wasn’t enough, not too long after the Farmers Market’s initial success, Arts in the Plaza a local organization that showcases creative fine artists was sharing the Plaza with the farmers market.

Arts in the Plaza features artists, art for sale, and the stories of inspiration that fuel their art. 

Not unlike this Examiner’s book, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook that tells the good food stories of locavore, pasture-to-plate chefs -- their work and passion, along with the local food artisans, farmers and fisherman who inspire them

Farmers Market Special Event

A market-driven cooking demo and author’s book signing, is scheduled for Saturday, October 27th 11:00am to 1pm at the Long Beach Greenmarket, located at:
1 West Chester Street, Long Beach, NY adjacent to the LIRR.

There is one scheduled for Sunday, October  28th too.  Please check the website for a final on this event. The pending severe storm watch may cause the Sunday Kings Park Farmers Market to be rescheduled for the following weekend.  Stay tuned.

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