For months I have been trying to get to the local organic farmer’s market Cooperativa Organica Madre Tierra at La Placita de La Roosevelt in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
I was told that it might have the leafy greens I was looking for by several folks such as our friend Gabriel, Isa, and Stephanie from Peace N Loaf. So we packed up the baby on last Sunday morning and drove up to San Juan. We talked to our friend Zuleyka and she was going to meet up with us there.
When we got there the place was already buzzing with folks. Some were just setting up food and tents. We walked over to what I thought was spinach at a table sponsored by local farmers Siembra Tres Vida. I had encountered their name on localharvest.org and found out through Isa that their products make up the boxes of ElDepartamentodelaComida who were recently part of a TEDxSanJuan conference.
I had researched Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes months ago on their site and saw they sell local veggies along with Isa’s artesanal bread. These boxes are sold for a fee from certied, local, organic farms. They are filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables and some farmers even have animal protein that you can purchase. If you go to Local Harvest, put your zipcode or state and see what farms are closest to where you live. Some farmers will delivery to your home or you can go and pick it up. There are some farms that will allow you to pick your own fruits and vegetables. The idea is two fold, you pay the farm for their produce and they inturn use that money to purchase more seeds to plant and grow crops.
We were greeted by a young man who helped exposed us to a new green called Tatsoi . I had a taste of the leafy green and decided to grab a bag along with eggplants. Raul told him about our blog and the young man proceeded to tell us how we could get in touch with the farm in Aibonito (close to our home) to visit and possibly pick our own vegetables.
As we went to other tables to see what they were selling, I was looking out for collards and kale. We saw what Turmeric looks like raw. I have read about the properties of the plant and how good it is for arthritis. We went to another table that had all sorts of plants, herbal, vegetable, and medicinal.
We asked the farmer if he had greens and he said he was sold out. So we did the next best thing and picked up some collard green seeds. He told us they germinate quickly so I will have to find a spot in a pot to plant them. We bought fresh celery and a roselle that can be prepared similar to cranberries and be made into a beverage better known as Hibiscus tea.
Peace n Loaf
We also encountered Stephanie who along with @Isasbread make vegan/vegetarian pizza at @Peacenloaf and artesanal bread. We have been following @Isasbread on twitter for several years and we finally tasted some of the bread she makes. I can tell you that the bread was enjoyed by the entire family.
We had hempseed and a chocolate/orange bread and as Isa had explained previously on Twitter, they put their bread in the CSA boxes for El Dept de la Comida. Stephanie explained to Raul about keeping the bread fresh in little sack they gifted us which hand made locally in Puerto Rico. We need to fill our new natural bread bag more often.
As we were lingereing around, we did see people selling food and setting up. The farmers had a cooler and inside of the cooler was my pot of gold. The ever elusive Collard Greens and Kale!
The farm is called Bikai located in Camuy and they also provided CSA boxes for a reasonable price. You can get your box in Camuy or meet up with them in San Juan or in the Rincon area. Frances and Rolando were so helpful to us about the service they provide. Rolando helped me sort out what was kale and collards and I grabbed bunches. They also were selling vegetarain food and oatmeal cookies.
Raul ordered the food and it had great flavor. He said he should have ordered another plate to take home. Rolando also showed us another plant that was for consumption called Moringa. The farmer we had encountered earlier was actually looking for Raul to tell him that Rolando had greens. He told the farmer that I picked up a bunch from Rolando and that was great to see them helping each other out.
The ambiance was familiar and Puerto Rican Christmas folk music was great. They have a schedule out for next year of when they will be getting together to sell products at this particular market. They local growers meet the first and third of every month. If you go, you will not be disappointed with the committment these farmers have to growing local organics.
When we got home, I cooked my kale with aubergine and celery along with other spices. There is a big difference when you are eating store bought aubergine and celery as oppossed to the local organics. It tastes fresh and it smells divine.
Do you shop at local organic farmer’s markets near your home?
Do you participate in CSA boxes? How has your experience been?