Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eating Locally

It is such a labor of love for us, and worth all the shoveling, weeding, and mucking about in manure.” ~ Tim Ruddenberg, Camano Island backyard farmer
(picture courtesy of Jodi & Tim Ruddenberg)

Today we got to indulge in one of our favorite summer activities, the Tacoma Thursday Farmer’s Market. The bulk of our time this summer has been spent on my beloved Long Beach Peninsula and been busy caring for extended family and their pets and home improvements. Coming back to Pierce County this week has been more relaxing and when Dave suggested we take a trip across the bridge to Tacoma’s Farmer’s Market that happens every Thursday during the summer.
We were gratified to see lots of people taking advantage of buying right from farmers, butchers, bakers and candle makers. After checking out a few of the stalls and deciding what we’d come back and get, we made a beeline for something to eat. There is a whole section of food vendors on the plaza next to the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, but we chose two down along the street. Dave got Mexican from a taco truck and I had a turkey-cream cheese-cranberry sandwich on a rosemary bagel. Yum!

When our lunch was finished we got a cookie to share from the bagel man and then strolled the rest of market, stopping to listen to a street musician doing Cab Callaway tunes. On the way back up Broadway we stopped and bought organic raspberries and beets before heading home.

On the way home we talked about living locally. It is Dave’s and my belief that the best way we can spend our limited income is in purchasing straight from the folks producing the products we want. Imported products, particularly Chinese products, are inescapable, but whenever we can we prefer to keep our money in the community because it fuels the local economy and makes for a smaller footprint on the Earth.

(picture courtesy of Jodi & Tim Ruddenberg)

Another activity that we believe is important to the environment, health and finances are backyard gardens. Our house in Gig Harbor is surrounded by Doug Firs which makes for a cool house in the summer, but for little in the way of garden. Nevertheless, we admire those who can and do grow much of their own food. An example of our food heroes are Jodi and Tim Ruddenberg on Camano Island. “I have always raised food for the family, not to sell. We give away virtually all our excess to family, friends, and neighbors, “says Tim, a photographer by trade.

“It is such a labor of love for us and worth all the shoveling, weeding, and mucking about in manure. Living, farming, buying locally is dear to us, but our concern is always price. I suppose that is why we give our garden away. Seems that those who need it the most are the least likely to afford it. My interest lately has been longer term consecutive crops, late Fall and early Spring crops, and overwintering crops. We really don't need to buy anything during the season.”

Local farmers know each other and while “chatting” with Tim he mentioned that their friends Don and Elaine had just stopped by and he’d chatted with him about gardening. They own Open Gate Farm on Camano, have a roadside stand and Don bakes. If you get up their way, check them out. I’m itching to get to Camano to see Jodi and Tim and when we see them at our high school class picnic I may try to wangle and invite for this fall.

The Ruddenbergs keep chickens as do our friends Sydney and Nyel Stevens of Oysterville. We have chicken envy and this year Dave attended a chicken workshop at the Proctor District Farmers Market and there may be chickens in our future. We have a good safe spot behind our garage and living outside the city limits of Gig Harbor should not have trouble with ordnances.
picture courtesy of Jodi & Tim Ruddenberg)

(In her blog Sydney of Oysterville, Sydney Stevens recently wrote about an editable garden tour on the Long Beach Peninsula and a conversation she had with the educator in charge of the Career and Technical Education of the Ocean Beach School District, Mark Simmons, and possible sustainable gardening projects for students. That got my educator juices flowing and so I asked Tim Ruddenberg what he thought about creating more backyard farmers by teaching it to students. “I am in favor of as much exposure as possible. I work with homeless kids on the weekend, and we have started a garden for them. Most kids don't have a clue,” Tim told me.

I believe that Americans need to change their relationship with food for the sake of their health, pocketbooks and the environment. The activity at the Thursday Market certainly gave me hope and the idea of creating a new generation of backyard Victory-type gardeners is exciting. There are farmers’ markets all over the country this time of year so get out and get up close and personal with your food!


Jo said...

A thought-provoking and hunger stimulating blog! Jodi's rhubarb looks fantastic. You know how I love rhubarb. You've inspired me to try to get a Thursday off to enjoy the Tacoma market. Many thanks.

Stephanie Frieze said...

I am hoping she brings some to our class picnic for me. They raised five boys on their garden. And truly, I'd love it if Dave and I could spend a day with them. Besides being great gardeners, they are excellent photographers!