Farm in the Spotlight. What's at the Market?
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Saturdays to September 28th | 8 am to Noon
Beargrass Christian Church, 4100 Shelbyville Road

Farm in the Spotlight 
Valley Spirit Farm

Valley Spirit Farm is in the Spotlight this week. They joined us for their first season in 2017. No stranger to the market, Joseph Monroe farmed at Ashbourne, a founding St. Matthews Market farm, before starting Valley Spirit with the Fiechter family. In  2015, the Monroe and Fiechter families embarked on a shared farming journey living and working together on 118 acres in Henry County, Kentucky, the families strive to grow exceptional produce, mushrooms and pastured meats. The Fiechter Family: Caleb, Kelly, Judah, and Rebekah and the Monroe Family: Joseph, Abbie, Angus, and Ruth, are dedicated to growing nutritionally dense, chemical free and ecologically responsible food.  By empowering their families to steward the earth, they strive to enrich our lives, our community and your dinner table.  

Valley Spirit currently offers diversified vegetables, grass-fed beef, pastured pork and a selection of fruits, berries and mushrooms.  The farm hosts a black angus cow-calf herd, and they custom graze black angus cattle for other local producers.  They manage the cattle based on rotational grazing principles and work hard to not only provide high quality forage, but to build precious organic matter within the pastures through frequent moves of the herd.  This keeps their grasses in a vegetative state and encourages root development, thus improving soil quality and quantity.  Along with ecological benefits, purely grass-fed cattle have healthier fat content, a higher quantiity of omega-3 fatty acids and elevated levels of antioxidant vitamins.

The Farm also raises pastured pork.  Like cattle, pigs who can express their natural behavior on pasture are healthier and happier, thus producing healthier meat. While forage does provide nutrition for pigs, it is necessary to supplement and they feed their hogs non-GMO grain sourced from a local feed mill (Bagdad Feed Mill).  They do not use antibiotics.

​They utilize tillage as little as possible in vegetable production and strive to nourish the soil food web, our most valuable resource.  Their produce is grown without chemicals or synthetic fertilizers and they strive to use biological controls when resisting pest pressure. Any resources used are OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listed and organic.  ​Their shiitake mushrooms are grown on inoculated hardwood logs that fruit under the shade of a Chestnut tree. 

Valley Spirit Farm offers a Community Supported Agriculture membership (CSA) as a method of partnership between a local farmer and community member.  The community member agrees to purchase a seasonal "share" and in return is provided with a weekly (or monthly with meat) amount of farm products over a period.  To learn about their CSA with pick up at the St. Matthews Farmers Market, please visit their stall or their website at

What's at the Market this week?

Squash, watermelon, and corn are in season and so are green beans, peaches, tomatoes, heirlooms, and greens.  Apples, blackberries, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, celery, cherries, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and rhubarb.  All variety of pork, beef, and chicken are for sale and eggs. Wild Flour Bakehouse has their exquisite breads, muffins, and cinnamon knots. Dave Garey has honey sticks in all flavors. Our alternate vendors are Kandies of Ky, Maya Connection, Horseshoe Bend Winery, and the Daily Cake. Make sure to walk the aisle bounded by Gallrein Farms on the Shelbyville Road side of the market, some of our alternate vendors are located there.

Featured Recipe
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Sapori d' Italia Cheese

It’s tomato time in Kentucky and a fresh heirloom tomato salad is just what the doctor ordered. Our market is also blessed to have Sapori d' Italia cheeses as a long time vendor. His cheese loving father taught cheesemaker Giovanni Capezzuto sausage, salami and cheese making as a child. Sapori cheese is crafted one wheel at a time using ancient Italian procedures including aging in a cellar on wood boards. Mold on these cheeses is an essential part of developing the flavors and texture desired. Giovanni’s cheeses change with the seasons as the temperature and humidity change in the cellar. His oil cured Agri is from an Italian Swiss Alps recipe, and is hand rolled into small balls then cured in extra virgin olive oil with herbs and red pepper.
Other Kentucky Proud cheeses he makes are Tosacana, semi-firm cheese with a crumbly texture and a rich, savory tangy finish. Cacio Fiore is sweet on the opening and finishes with a savory punch. It is sometimes compared to Fontina and a very clean Taleggio. Creamy and crumbly, Alpina is coated in a mix of Italian herbs. It has a rustic look and a taste of tanginess. Giovanni makes three rusticas, one with black pepper, another with red chili pepper and Rustica Alle Noci with minced walnuts. This cheese is used in desserts or with fruit and a drizzle of honey. 

Most cheeselovers love the fresh, neutral bocconcini mozzarella-like balls that are now so ubiquitous you can find them on supermarket olive bars but Capezzuto’s delectable little cheese morsels are soft, creamy, a little salty, bathed in an herby olive oil and made with Kentucky cow milk. Any of these cheeses would be wonderful on an heirloom salad.

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 lb mixed heirloom tomatoes, quartered if small or cut into 1/4-inch-wide wedges if larger
1 lb cherry tomatoes
1 lb very small mozzarella balls (1/4 inch; sometimes called perlini) or any cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups loosely packed small basil leaves or torn large leaves

To Make:
 Whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar, and pepper in a large bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until dressing is emulsified. Add tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.

Don't forget that many of our farmers sell homemade mustard. Granny's Delights, Triple J, and Garey Farms' are delicious. Also, Primo Oils and Vinegars is the place to get your olive oil and vinegar for this recipe.

Maker in the Spotlight
The Arrow Fund

The Arrow Fund:  Targeting Animal Cruelty is our featured volunteer organization this week.  The Arrow Fund provides medical treatment for animal victims of extreme cruelty, abuse, and neglect.   Through selling a variety of pet related items and handmade pet treats, these dedicated volunteers are making a real difference for animals in our community.  Visit www.thearrowfund.orgto learn more.

Berry in the Spotlight
Aronia Berries from Coulter's Good Earth Farm

Poised to hit the nutritional spotlight as a world class super berry: Aronia.
Commonly found wild in woodlands and swamps, aronia is also known as chokeberry, due to its astringent flavor. The berries come naturally in three colors – red, purple and black-purple. Aronia melanocarpa, the black-purple species, has a much deeper purple color than blueberries, which are also North American natives. The berry is now cultivated, and that cultivation is expanding in anticipation of the berry’s impending popularity.
The deep purple color of Aronia melanocarpa has attracted a lot of scientific attention. Purple fruits by virtue of their color are rich in the category of antioxidants known as anthocyanins. These pigments demonstrate potent cell-protective properties, and are also anti-inflammatory, helping to reduce systemic inflammation – a key factor in the development of chronic diseases.
But this is just the start of the benefits offered by aronia. Digging more into the compounds found in this native berry, scientists have found a number of more specific agents, including caffeic acid, cyanidin-3-galactoside, delphinidin, epicatechin, malvidin, and many more. You’ll likely never have to remember these names, but to health researchers, the presence of these compounds in aronia is big news.
Combined, these specific agents in aronia are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-diabetic. They fight the formation of arterial plaque and lower serum cholesterol, and they protect the liver against a host of insults and toxins.  In our ever-increasingly diabetic society, aronia’s compounds help to lower blood sugar and improve the body’s own natural production of insulin.
Several of the compounds in aronia are natural cancer fighters, and protect against the development of tumors of the bladder, breasts, colon, lungs, ovaries and skin. In addition, these compounds fight Crohn’s disease, inhibit HIV, reduce uncomfortable symptoms of PMS and fight herpes. Preliminary studies have also shown that aronia may prove helpful in slowing the growth of glioblastoma – a form of fatal brain cancer.
Since the 1940s, aronia has been commercially cultivated in Russia, and since the 1950s, it has been a commercial crop in Europe. In 2009 the Midwest Aronia Association formed in Iowa to provide information and resources to farmers who wanted to get involved with commercial farming of this super berry. According to the association, members are now found in California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.
In the world of berries, antioxidant activity is a major factor in the endless jockeying for position as top berry. Aronia has greater antioxidant activity than cranberry, blueberry, strawberry, cherry, pomegranate, goji and mangosteen. You can think of aronia as the King Kong of antioxidant berries. This awesome antioxidant power gives growers of the berry confidence that super-stardom for aronia is close at hand.
Aronia berry products are already in the marketplace, and some have received coveted USDA Organic certification – the highest standard of agriculture purity in effect today. Unlike strawberries and many other fruits, aronia is naturally pest-resistant and does not require the use of agricultural toxins. This spells good news for those who do not want unhealthy chemicals in their fruits.
In the contest for ever healthier foods, aronia is surely a winner in the making. With science demonstrating significant benefits to health, farmers planting large acreage and the media increasingly boosting its fortunes, it’s only a short matter of time before aronia, the North American super berry, leaps to prominence in juices, jams, jellies and many other products.

Stop by Coulter's Good Earth Farm today and learn all about aronia berries. Take some home and add them to your smoothies!

It’s Tomato Time -- Let the Seasonal Feast Begin

Photo by Dan Dry

By Art Lander Jr. 
Early August at the St. Matthews Farmers Market means vendor tables will be piled high with vine-ripened tomatoes of all sizes, shapes and colors.  In celebration of this wonderful time on the gardening calendar, let’s take a close look at the history of the tomato, a plant that grows well in our local soils and produces such a bountiful crop.
It may come as a surprise, perhaps a shock, that there are about 7,500 varieties of tomatoes worldwide. Botanically, the tomato is a fruit because it is seed-bearing and grows from the flowering part of a plant. But in 1893 the Supreme Court ruled that under U.S. customs regulations, the tomato should be classified as a vegetable. A member of the nightshade family, the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) originated in Central America and western South America. Its use as food can be traced to Mexico. Following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the tomato was introduced worldwide. Conquistador Hernan Cortes may have been the first to bring tomatoes to Europe after he captured the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, in 1521.
The earliest reference of tomatoes being grown in Colonial America dates to 1710, in modern day South Carolina. Tomatoes were likely introduced to North America from the Caribbean. By the mid-18th century, they were cultivated on plantations throughout the region.
Two of the most popular heirloom varieties at the St. Matthews Farmers Market are the Brandywine and Cherokee Purple, past winners of tomato tasting contests. The Brandywine has become one of the most popular home garden cultivars in the U.S. This variety has potato-leaved foliage and bears large pink beefsteak tomatoes, weighing up to 1 1/2 pounds each. It’s a slow maturing variety that requires 80 to 100 days to vine ripen. Even when fully ripe, Brandywine tomatoes may have “green shoulders.” Brandywine has been described as a “sweet tomato that is offset by a wonderful acidity.” The origin of the Brandywine is unclear. Burpee offered Brandywine seed in their catalogue as early as 1886. Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds, noted that Ohio gardener Ben Quisenberry received the variety from a woman named Dorris Sudduth Hill, who could trace Brandywine tomatoes in her family for over 80 years.
The Cherokee Purple is another popular heirloom, distinctive in color and taste. These tomatoes have a dark mahogany-red color, with a somewhat greenish hue near the stem when mature. Cherokee Purple tomatoes are beefsteak in style, with a dense, juicy texture, and small seed locules (compartments) irregularly scattered throughout the flesh. The dark interior color is enhanced by the tendency of the seeds to be surrounded by green gel. Craig LeHoullier, who has a collection of over 1,000 tomato varieties, including many old commercial releases previously thought to be extinct, named the cultivar, claiming it was an heirloom originating with the Cherokee. The variety was thought to have been carried west of the Mississippi River on the Trail of Tears, a series of forced relocations of Native American nations in the U.S. following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
The arrival of local, vine-ripened tomatoes at our market signals the beginning of a seasonal feast.There ’s nothing quite like a Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato (BLT) sandwich made with thick slices of tomato, or a plate full of big chunks of tomato, drizzled with a homemade vinaigrette dressing.
It’s tomato time, enjoy it while it lasts.

THIS SATURDAY August 3 is Tomato Tasting Day from 8 a.m. until they run out! Vote for your favorites.
September 7 is Beekeeping Day & Honey Tasting. Join us!
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