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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fast Afternoon at Riverdale

Though it is early in the season and the fields are a week away from first production, I always feel it worthwhile to go to market, if only to keep loyal customers abreast of availability. It was touch-and-go whether I could make it in to Toronto for the Tuesday afternoon market at Riverdale. The garage was waiting overnight on a part crucial to the full fix of the shot brakes on the car. I called first thing in the morning, and, yes, we were on, the part was in. So I pressed into action picking beautiful baby chard, beet greens, kale, lettuce greens from the greenhouse, and made up a mix of spinach, lettuce, bi-colour beet greens, rainbow chard, mizuna, mustards. Thank goodness for the greenhouses! Jerrica and Leigh paused in their fragrant de-grassing of the bushing-up lavender plants and set to washing, weighing and bagging the greens.

On the lovely first true sunny and warm afternoon of the season, I set up our stand midst the trees in Riverdale Park. My colleague Chris was recuperating after surgery so I was on my own. Along with the greens, I had 50 bunches of rhubarb, 10 pounds of sunchokes and some grass-fed grass-finished Dexter ground and stewing beef. The mostly female summery feeders pecked the greens, sunchokes, fresh herbs and rhubarb off the table with abandon and withing an hour and a bit, the table was a greenless desert. The frenzy can be put down to the fine weather and the fact that we, Rolling Hills Organics, were the only vendor with any greens this particular afternoon at market. I explained to the baffled buyers that farmers – ourselves included – are way behind in getting out on the fields planting after this exceptionally cool and wet May that we have just endured. The familiar refrain that I am forced to come out with once every few seasons – we’ll have more next week – was put to good use, before I scooted out of there. Ire was setting in and I didn’t want to be chased out, greenless as I was. Even after snarled traffic on the highways, I was home early to kick back with a hearty carmenère on the balmy deck, to the accompaniment of raucous evening birdsong.