a new year

It is well past the new year, and I haven’t written a single post. I have been writing, to a degree, but the blog has left me unsure. I have no strong feelings, one way or another, about exactly what my next step should be.

I have been reading a lot of blogs – David Lebovitz being my personal favorite at this time. They have made me realize I am not entirely sure what I am trying to say right now. At one point, I had a very clear picture of the message I intended to share with people. But I have pulled back, rethought, and feel I need to repurpose.

There are a few thoughts keeping me up at night:

  • Do people even care? I was talking to my boyfriend after he came home from grocery shopping. He told me a long story about how there were apples that were more expensive than all the other apples. The reason given by their sign was a big “made in the USA” label. But on closer inspection, all of the apples in the USA bin had little stickers with the word “CANADA” in bold print. In fact, most of the apples surrounding the falsely labeled apples were from New Hampshire, and were being sold for a much more reasonable price.

“I never would have cared until you started talking about all this stuff.” My                            boyfriend said. That touched me. But it also made me wonder if just maybe I                    have become somewhat of a nag. I’ve pulled back on the blog and in life.

  • Where am I headed? I love writing, and interviewing, but I am starting to realize, I have no ultimate goal. I think perhaps I should. I do know that my main fuel comes from a real belief that “We All Do Better When We All Do Better.” Thom and I found a print of this slogan when we were in Minnesota a few summers ago. We unintentionally planned our vacation the same week as an all night art happening. Whole blocks were shut down just for artists and performers to showcase their crazy stunts. There was a printing press that printed off original letterpress to give away every hour. We went back every hour, all night, for six hours straight. I think we still have most of them.

So I think about all these things, and ultimately what it comes down to is, while I like doing the recipe posts, I believe this blog should be meant to showcase more of the community. We should be supportive of our neighbors, for who else would be there for us when things get hard.

This has really hit home recently since our move. Thom and I are now living in Durham, in a sort of garret apartment, semi attached to the owner occupied house. I was really nervous at first, living so close to the people we rent from. I wanted to like them, and I hoped very much that they would like us.

They remind me of the neighbors I idealize. I am always happy to bring them little gifts, or things that I think they might like. They share with us their extra fresh produce from their CSA, and flowers that might bloom while they’re on vacation.

This is what Local Courage is about. It is about food, because that is what keeps us going. Food brings people together and fills people up with strength and good feelings. But more than food Local Courage is about people. Neighbors who are there for each other, and don’t think twice before generously giving a smile, a bit of their time, or a part of their lives.

So however this new year progresses, that will be the direction of Local Courage. People. Why we should care.

Newmarket Farmers Market

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“Are you a Newmarket girl?”

I get this question a lot from the locals. My answer is complicated – mostly because what they’re asking is complicated. They are sort of asking if I live here now. They are also sort of asking if I lived here as a child. They are sort of asking if I want to live here for the rest of my life.

They want to know if I am a part of the structure of Newmarket, a piece of it’s history and legacy. I am sorry to say that I am not. Not yet, at least. My grandparents didn’t live here. My name is nothing special. I don’t have any cousins, second or otherwise, in town. I moved here with my family when I was thirteen. My Newmarket legacy hasn’t even begun.

Newmarket is all about tradition and it’s personal history.

I do have the benefit of knowing the important family names in town. I did go to the middle school and high school. I’ve walked the same halls as the old women who want to know whether I’m really a “Newmarket girl” or if I just live here.

I have really tried to align myself with this town, because I love it here. It’s beautiful. The people are friendly and nosy and sweet. I want to be a “Newmarket girl” because being synonymous with this town is a wonderful thing. There are a lot of people who feel the same way, and I think you will find that they all agree on one thing.

Newmarket is a very special place.

It was about three weeks ago that my boyfriend, another Newmie-phile, pointed out that I’d never gone to the Newmarket farmers market.

“If you’re trying to promote local, you should really just go to the market in your town.

He had a valid point. About two weeks after that I was talking to Steve from Mildred’s Drumlin farm about doing a piece on his farm. We weren’t halfway in to our brief conversation when he said.

“You should come to the Newmarket Farmer’s Market. It’s not doing as well as it should. I think you should write about it.”

So I made a point to go because both men were right. Newmarket is my home, and thus the market is my market. It takes place every Saturday in the summer. I’m ashamed to say that I was a little taken in by the hustle and bustle of the Portsmouth Market. Prior to this summer I haven’t had a Saturday off in three years, but this year I’ve had no excuse. I just kind of forgot about the market happening right in my town. I wondered if that’s why it’s not doing as well as it should. Maybe everyone just forgot.

When I arrived to the market on Saturday I was immediately impressed – there was so much free parking. I’m used to scouring parking lots or getting to markets an hour early just to find a spot for my car. If Newmarket were a busy market, they would still have plenty of parking. You can park by the side of the building or across the street at the high school. It was awesome.

The market, admittedly, was small. But it wasn’t that small. I think I counted eight vendors and the market manager Rob Carpenter said that they usually had four more. There were only two true produce vendors, but they had the essentials – greens, potatoes, eggs, beans and garlic. Rob mentioned that they had lost two of their long-standing produce vendors this year to various life and business circumstances, and were actively seeking more. It seemed like a really welcoming place to have a stand, especially for newer farmers who want to try a market without sinking a lot of money into a booth in Portsmouth or Exeter.

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The two produce vendors, Mildred’s Drumlin Farm and The Root Seller were right in the front of the horseshoe shaped market. Steve from Mildred’s Drumlin, of Lee, NH was ever the gracious farmer, mellow and friendly. He had plenty of greens, potatoes, radishes, and other yummy locally grown bits. I was really impressed that he had duck eggs for sale, which are my favorite eggs to cook with. He explained that at the end off the week they sell the leftover eggs from their CSA, and duck is nearly always there. This alone has made Newmarket Farmer’s Market a staple for me now.

The Root Seller was also impressive to me. This family that farms is out of Nottingham, NH. They are exactly what they say – sellers of roots, beans, and maple syrup. I was especially excited to see the dried beans, which I’ve been keeping an eye out for at every market I have gone to this season. I also really liked that they had Grade B maple syrup. I find that Grade A to Grade B is like Skim to Whole milk for me. There is a lack of complexity in flavor in the Grade A, and you tend to get more out of Grade B. Maybe that’s why all the chefs that I know choose Grade B when they buy maple syrup.

The rest of the stands were either artisanal crafts or prepared food, but Thom and I took the time to visit every one. We were their around 11, when a steady influx of customers began milling about. However, I found that all the vendors were nice in a noticeably genuine way. The prices were incredibly fair, a few vendors admitting that at this particular market they sell using their wholesale prices.

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There were more vendors than I can write about in one post, considering the distinct personalities of each. Cracked An Egg Farm, a staple among Seacoast Markets, was the place to get a variety of different meat. There were a group of women who make jellies out of fruits and wines (I fell in love with their Earl Grey jelly,) Hickory Nut Farm sold finely crafted goat cheese, linens, honey, a potter who made beautiful functional wares, a few vendors sold soaps, a baker, a crepe maker, and  a couple that built birdhouses and beautiful jewelry boxes. What impressed me most was the balance of goods. It was clear that Rob Carpenter put a lot of thought into who was at the market.

I left feeling uplifted. This market really fit in the town of Newmarket. It was small, but personable. The vendors were outgoing, and it didn’t feel overly weighed down by one particular type of good. While there were fewer produce vendors than there could have been, I could tell that they were strong and seasoned.

But, you could tell in the conversations with the vendors that the market had been suffering. There weren’t as many people as in the previous years. This year in particular has been really rough on Saturdays – either raining or scorching hot. The Stone Church has also opened a Saturday Market, not a farmer’s market, that has thrown a lot of confusion into the mix.

I encourage you to support this market. It’s well established and close to most of the major Seacoast towns. Folks from out of town should take advantage of everything Newmarket has to offer. It has been expanding so much in the last several years. Strong new businesses have started growing downtown and in The Mill’s. There’s good food to eat, and the Newmarket Farmer’s Market is worth a visit.

Newmarket residents should learn to appreciate all of what the market at Carpenter’s Greenhouse is. After all – she’s a Newmarket Girl.

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The Newmarket Farmer’s Market takes place every Saturday from 9 am – 1 pm at Carpenter’s Ole English Greenhouse, 220 South Main St, Newmarket, NH. They are actively looking for more diversity and produce vendors, so spread the word and contact Rob Carpenter at newmarketfarmersmarket@gmail.com for more information.