Smile Politely

Next best thing to the Farmer’s Market

T. S. Eliott was wrong. April is not the cruelest month. Somewhere in late January we run out of potatoes, carrots, cabbages, and squash at our house.

Sure, we can coast for a several weeks on our stash of frozen broccoli, green beans, corn, and cauliflower, and jars of canned apple sauce and tomato sauce. Yet, inevitably before May, we will find ourselves in the produce aisles of the local grocery stores and this is always disappointing.

But this year, things are looking up. Thanks to unheated high tunnel polybarns, cold frames, greenhouses, and refrigerator and freezer storage, several area farmers are offering produce, cheese, meats, and poultry direct for in town pickup.

In mid-January, Greg Runyon of Claybank Farm of Olney delivered produce to a central pickup site in Urbana for his die-hard farmers market customers. Among the offerings for pre-order were savoy cabbage, spinach, green onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, oyster mushrooms, and fresh herbs, including rosemary. If you are interested in ordering produce for the February pickup, call (618) 927-3872.

Last Saturday marked the first week of winter orders for Blue Moon Farm and Prairie Fruits, which featured spinach, carrots, kale, fingerling potatoes, cilantro, and turnips, as well as cheeses like chevre and sheep’s milk mouton frais. If the weather cooperates, the farms hope to offer produce and cheese every two weeks. Use Blue Moon’s email form to request to receive email about the upcoming order. In the email, you’ll find a link to a survey order form on the SurveyMonkey website. Make sure your order is completed by noon the Thursday prior to pickup. Then, pickup your produce and cheese on Saturday between 9 a.m. and noon at the indoor eating area outside of Common Ground Food Coop in Lincoln Square Village (around the corner and up the hallway from Cardinal Fitness) in Urbana. The farmers ask that print your order to help expedite pickup.

Moore Family Farm is now in its sixth year of delivering meat, poultry, and eggs to Champaign-Urbana for winter/spring pickup. Pickups are the second Saturday of the month: February 13, March 13, and April 10 for 2010. Orders must be received no later than the Wednesday before pickup. As with Claybank, Blue Moon, and Prairie Fruits, the Moores bring only what has been pre-ordered. The farm is newly restocked on pork. Chicken and duck also are plentiful. However beef is limited and lamb brats are the only lamb available. You can also preorder pastured eggs for winter delivery. Call the farm at (815) 432-6238 to place your order. If you reach the answering machine, the Moores will call you to confirm your order and provide the central delivery location.

If you are up for traveling a few miles out of town, you can pre-order produce and flours for farm pickup at Tomahnous Farm near Mahomet. The farm currently has chard, vitamin green, mint, parsley, chives, thyme, sage, hardneck garlic, cippolini onions, and fingerling, red, and russet potatoes, as well as whole wheat all purpose and pastry flours. The offerings are updated regularly on the farm’s website. To order call, (217) 586-5632.

Speaking of ordering, now also is the time to order a community supported agriculture share from local CSA programs. For those in and near C-U, both Tomahnous Farm and Prairieland CSA still have a few shares available. For those south of C-U, Claybank Farm also has shares available.

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