Celebrating Eat Local Month: A Conversation with One of the Market’s Original Vendors

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August is New Hampshire’s Eat Local Month, and farmers markets throughout the state are celebrating by doing what they do best—bringing high-quality, locally grown, raised and produced foods to market. Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market continues a 15-year tradition of doing just that, and we’re growing each year to meet the demands of an increasingly savvy local foods community.

We’re taking a break this week from highlighting the market’s new vendors, to hear from one of our originals: Wolfeboro’s Crooked Pine Farm. Brenda and Mark Lush joined the market in its first season—back when just six vendors got together in front of Carpenter School to sell their produce, meats and products. The Lush family had been gradually growing their farm (literally, inch by inch, clearing trees and rocks to create garden space) on Browns Ridge Road since about 1990, when they began with a few chickens and pigs. (They were also growing three fine children, by the way.) Twenty-six years later, they raise chickens, turkeys, pigs and lambs. Their animals are all raised on pasture, along with natural, non-medicated feed. The farm’s chickens are fed organically. This year’s turkey flock (70 strong) is being fed a natural and non-GMO feed; customers are encouraged to get their Thanksgiving orders in early! Though Crooked Pine Farm continues to grow an eclectic variety of unusual garden vegetables, which turn up at the market as available, the farm’s specialties include chicken, turkey, lamb and fresh eggs.

Though Mark is a critical force behind the workings of Crooked Pine Farm, you won’t find him most weeks at the market. During the school year, he’s teaching social studies at Kingswood High School, and during the summer season, he’s working as a docent at the nearby Clark Museum. Market customers will find Brenda at the Crooked Pine Farm tent, along with the best seasonal products the farm has to offer.

Brenda’s true passion is in the creation of fresh-baked goods, both for market and to fill an increasing number of special orders. Using locally-produced fruits and other ingredients as possible, Brenda bakes breads, cookies, granola, pies and specialty items just in time for every Thursday’s market. Regular customers head for her oatmeal bread (lightly sweetened with honey and perfect for sandwiches) and her ever-popular bear claws with cream cheese and blueberries. If you’re lucky, you might get there in time to buy a large bear claw ring, to serve the whole family. Though Crooked Pine Farm does produce cultivated blueberries, Brenda prefers to bake with wild blueberries, which she buys from Eastman’s in Wolfeboro. Popular breads also include anadama and cinnamon swirl, along with what she calls “150% whole wheat”—made with whole wheat flour and bulgur. No matter which you choose, you’ll be enjoying a treat made from fresh, wholesome ingredients, straight from the Crooked Pine Farm kitchen. A rotating assortment of sandwiches are usually available, which customers can expect to transition to hot soups and stews as the weather cools this fall.

Customers who’ve worked up a thirst may find Brenda squeezing fresh lemonade at the market—a tradition that began years ago with the Lush children, who served up lemonade at the market to earn their own farm income. Brenda continues the tradition, commenting that people will stay at the market longer if they’re able to get a cold drink to quench their thirst, and it’s a good item for the kids. “If the kids are happy, their parents are happy and are more likely to stay,” she said. As a long-time board member of the Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market, Brenda’s concerns extend beyond her own success as a vendor. Making sure the market as a whole runs well, providing a diverse and balanced assortment of offerings, as well as creating a vibrant community gathering spot are all important goals.

Now in its 15th year, the Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market has grown steadily and today features more than 30 vendors.

Asked to comment on the changes she’s seen over the years, Brenda talked about the recent addition of lunch vendors to the market. “People are staying longer, sitting at the picnic tables to visit and enjoy lunch, and the live music,” she said. “The market has really good energy these days.”

Our loyal customers, and the always growing tribe of new customers, are an important part of that energy. The community’s commitment to supporting local farms like Crooked Pine Farm continues to grow, with many area residents now heading to the farmers market for fresh staples and specialty items. Though the state may celebrate local food especially in August, the Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market keeps that celebration alive almost year round, with the popular summer market and the growing winter market to look forward to in just a few months.

And don’t forget to order that Thanksgiving turkey soon!

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