Monday, May 6, 2013

You can quote me on that

Did you catch last week's Food Section in the Post?

I almost missed it, busy as I have been, but luckily Kenton's mom sent me a copy. She thought I'd get a kick out of the feature article on the wacky world of DC-area farmers' market newsletters. I did enjoy reading about some of my market friends' fun and quirky weekly updates. Just below the second page of the article, my eyes fell on a short piece on new markets opening this season... one in which I am quoted. Extensively. I am pleased that the reporter contacted me a few weeks ago about including the soon-to-open Suitland market in a piece about innovative new community farmers' markets. I am just a little anxious about the details.

It is true that I will be the market manager. It is true that the market will benefit the neighborhood and nearby federal workers. It is true that we will have awesome local farmers from Maryland and Virginia... What is not exactly right: the market doesn't start until next month. (To be fair, back over the winter, the community had discussed an April start date, but we'd still much to work out, so we moved the opening to June.) And there were a couple of things that I had tried to emphasize that were completely left out. In particular, the amazing partnerships that brought the whole thing about.

Reading the piece, it sounds like I am putting this market together all by myself. That is hardly the case. The lion's share has been handled by my friends and colleagues, Jessica and Janet, who have been working with farmers and other small food producers and extension officers over the cold weather months. Where is the mention of the STEER Center -- the driving force behind the market that "has been in the works for several years"? Yes, yes, I am sure there are character and column limitations, so the friendly reporter couldn't include everything I wanted. (She was writing the piece -- not me -- and to her credit did hit on a number of the key details.) Me, while I am very much looking forward to opening day on June 4th, I am hardly a veteran in the neighborhood. I only got involved with the Suitland community a year and a half ago, when I helped some middle schoolers start a garden. True, I do love those students, and am elated that the program has since evolved to include a hoophouse -- the source of the "hyper-local produce" mentioned in the Post article -- but the idea of a market in the Suitland community had been discussed for years before I came on the scene.

What reporters decide to include can be funny. Just the other day I was laughing out loud while reading a chapter of my friend Forrest's (excellent) book that touches on a much more extreme interaction with the local media. (Not much time to myself lately, so it's taking me awhile to get through the preview copy Forrest gave me, er, wow, over a month ago. And now it's available on Amazon. Shoot. I'd better sign off of the computer and get back to reading Gaining Ground before Forrest comes out with the sequel!) There's a great scene in chapter 10 where a reporter comes to interview Forrest as he's just starting his first season of selling free-range meat on the family farm in rural VA. The young farmer walks his guest around the farm, pointing out the happily grazing animals, answering questions, and clarifying -- he thinks -- any confusing points. The article comes out, and Forrest stares disbelievingly at the selective interpreted quotes taken out of context in the local paper. His explanation of the complexity of flavor that comes from the unique blend of grasses and clover, the terroir, in the resulting beef is printed as "You can taste dirt in the meat." I don't want to give away the whole take on manure management -- you're just going to have to pick up a copy of the book for yourself. It's too funny.

Luckily for Forrest, "[e]vidently, weed-fed cattle with meat that tasted like dirt had a certain appeal after all." And luckily for me, a lot of other good details were included, but I want to make sure that the official interwebs record clearly states that I am not single-handedly starting up a farmers' market in Suitland. It is very much the labor of love of quite a few people, unmentioned in the final article. It is for you that I write. Thank you. For everything. Looking forward to our grand opening in a few weeks!

(Did I mention the market starts on June 4?)

1 comment:

  1. Keep up the good work, Ibti! Of course it takes a whole team to put on a market, but it's important to have an inspiring, aware and connected individual who can represent such a project. Let's celebrate market openings soon with some good food whose tastes remind us of its origins.


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