BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
Farmers and the farmers markets they attend have been quite resilient for the last six months, despite the restrictions that the coronavirus pandemic has forced upon them.
But fall is here, winter is coming, and many farmers markets are beginning to close for the season. There are still many farmers markets that remain open year-round, and other sources for them to sell their product, so all is not lost. These small local farms are undeniably important to the economy and to local food systems. That’s why we ask that you support these small farms and shop local farmers markets as much as you can.
There’s a bright side to the slowdown of fall which is when families visit farms that offer pumpkin patches, hay rides, U-pick apples, and corn mazes. This time of year, along with roadside farm stands and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription boxes, many local farms enjoy a fairly lucrative agribusiness with these activities. Many times this can help sustain a farm until spring. Even with COVID-19 restrictions, many farms will still open for these fall activities.
The way we go about participating in these fall activities will undoubtedly change this year. A pumpkin patch or corn maze can be safe if you wear a mask and observe social distancing. Being outdoors can be safer than being indoors, too. Swank Family Farms, located in Hollister, is famous for its fall activities and they are going ahead with all of their usual events with a long list of safety measures. Check with your local farm to ensure they are open during the pandemic and are following safety guidelines, and then enjoy one of your favorite fall activities.
Now in season: At the Martinez market you’ll discover pears from Martinez very own Alhambra Valley Beef and Pears, tasty Buckeye Gala, Fuji, and Pink Lady apples from Guzman Farm in Denair, more apples from Rainbow Orchards in Camino and Smit Farms in Linden, and Brussels sprouts and squash from J&M Farms out of Hollister. The farmers market is the place to shop for fresh-from-the-farm produce in varieties you won’t find anywhere else !
Crispy Pumpkin Spice Cookies
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
11 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2/3 cups pumpkin purée
1 large egg
White sugar for dusting
1 to 3 dashes cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and black pepper
2-1/3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
Whisk together the dry ingredients. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add molasses, pumpkin, and fresh ginger and mix for two minutes. Add egg and mix for one more minute.
Form two 1 -1/2-inch thick logs in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours. Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice log into 1/3-inch slices and place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the top with white sugar. Bake for 8 minutes, then drop the temperature to 200°F. (The temp is turned down to avoid a cake-like cookie. The pumpkin purée makes the dough moister than regular cookies,) Bake for ten minutes until crispy. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve.
The Martinez Farmers Market is open every Sunday year-round, 9am to 2pm, on Main St. and Estudillo with street parking.