Amish Country

Photo: Rosemary Covert

Photo: Rosemary Covert

Lodi is situated in an area populated quite heavily by people of the Amish and Mennonite faith. Ever since I can remember it was a common occurrence to pass a horse and buggy on the country highways around Lodi.

In recent years there has been an influx of even more Amish and Mennonite families to the area and so the chances are very good that you will need to make a wide pass around a buggy carrying a couple, sometimes with curious little ones peering out the back window, their young faces framed by the traditional bob haircut and black-banded straw hat.

This increase in the Amish population of our area has meant nothing but a boon to local food and gardening aficionados. Among many different kinds of businesses that serve the Amish and non-Amish populations there are several excellent produce sellers that grow a lot of their own fruits and vegetables in greenhouses powered without use of electricity.

We’ve been buying fresh produce from our local Amish produce stand for many years but last year we also relied on them heavily for the plants that started our garden. In addition to having excellent quality produce and plants their prices are often the most reasonable you’ll find in comparison to grocery stores and farmers markets.

Last year we were thrilled when our garden tomato patch was spared the blight that was sweeping the countryside. Many of our friends and neighbors had their tomatoes wiped out completely but our tomatoes were blissfully unaware of any of that nasty blight business.

The story we heard was that the blight affected plants that went through the industrial food chain and were purchased at places like grocery stores and Wal-Marts. Since ours came from small independent greenhouses we were in the clear and enjoyed many pounds of tomatoes. (It actually wasn’t the best year for tomatoes blight or no blight, but that’s beside the point).

The population of Amish fits the rural farming landscape perfectly. Teams of six to eight Clydesdale horses farm on properties adjacent to those farmed by the most technologically advanced farming equipment. Seeing them at work in the fields gives us a glimpse at how perhaps our ancestors lived on and worked this land.

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Local Food and Farmers’ Markets




Tomatillos

Originally uploaded by j-co

Lodi could be considered a hub of the local food movement, only because there’s always been a local food movement in this area. It’s just never been cool before.

Of course I’m exaggerating: Lodi’s not really a hub of too much, to be honest, but there’s no exaggerating the vibrancy of local produce growers and farmers’ markets in the Finger Lakes.

There’s a lot of agriculture around Lodi, but the large industrial crops are almost exclusively soybeans and feed corn. In recent years small farms offering CSAs have boomed, and more farmers markets have developed offering people the chance to feel closer to the food they eat and who produces it.

Throughout my childhood during the summers in Lodi you could count on the farm stands that dot the country roads and highways providing much of your summer meals. With delicious sweet corn that explodes in your mouth to perfectly ripe peaches whose juice drips down your chin to the ubiquitous zucchini, there has never been a shortage of great local produce. It’s always one of the best things about being in Lodi in the summer.

The Ithaca Farmers Market has been around for years and never disappoints with the great variety of produce as well as the diverse international food vendors and live music. This summer I became enamored of the Trumansburg Farmers Market which is much smaller by comparison but is off the charts when it comes to friendliness. Almost all of the vendors, which range from a goat dairy to cinnamon buns to specialty garlic in addition to the requisite produce are happy to engage in conversation, offer advice to novice gardeners and actually want to know what you think of their food.

One of the best produce finds of the summer were the tomatillos from the Ithaca market pictured here. I had no clue what to do with them but the kind vendor offered me a salsa verde recipe which was to die for. Now I’m hooked on tomatillos and am determined to grow them in the garden next summer. Salsa verde for all!