Seaside Farmers Market Features Henderson Farm
February 19, 2012 by Chandra Hartman
Henderson Farm started vending at Seaside during the summer of 2010 when they had an excess of delicious, spicy off-season arugula in the garden. Their friend, Celeste Dick, an enthusiastic supporter of the Seaside Farmer's Market, suggested that we try offering our extra produce there. And so it began...!
How long have you lived in the area and where are you from?
I (Carl) grew up in DeFuniak Springs. I moved away in my teens and lived for about 25 years in Milwaukee, WI before returning to the homestead in 2005 to help care for my mother, Mildred, who supports our Market endeavors by cutting out and attaching all of the jar labels. Mildred taught Gena to make blueberry marmalade even before we were married. Working in a small, non-air-conditioned kitchen in the middle of July 1981, with the stove burners blasting away...well, it's a wonder Gena ever came back! We have been working hard to make Mildred's property more self-sustaining and have added more fruit trees and vegetable gardens, as well as cows (for meat), goats (for milk and goat cheese), bees (for honey), and chickens (for meat and eggs).
How far do you travel for the market?
Our trip to the market from DFS takes 45 minutes, which Gena utilizes for long phone calls to relatives back in Wisconsin.
What products do you offer?
We offer seasonal fruit and vegetables from our farm, and like many who sell at Seaside, do not use herbicides or pesticides and do use natural fertilizers. We are probably most sought for what we make with fresh produce: salsa, pickled vegetables, and wonderful jams. Some are hard-to-find items such as pickled okra, watermelon rind pickles, chow chow and homemade Bloody Mary mix. When we can't supply our own ingredients, we turn to Paul and the other Seaside vendors for fresh, locally grown produce.
What makes your items special or unique?
You cannot buy most of our products at the supermarket...and if you can, you will not find the same freshness and flavor. Our products often remind people of things they enjoyed when growing up. And if we don't have what they are looking for, we will try to make it. For example, the sweet, hot, garlic-y Cajun Pickle we offer came about through interaction with one of our customers!
Every batch of produce is a little different, so we make minor batch-by-batch recipe adjustments until the product tastes good! We believe a jam should taste like the fruit that is on the label...not just sweet. Gena learned from Mildred, who created a very tasty Fig/Lemon/Apricot jam (appropriately abbreviated to "FLA") that it is OK to experiment. Resultant creations include "H4," a pear/jalapeno/habanero pepper jam which is wonderful on cream cheese and also great as a fish or chicken baste, Pear Chutney, which makes a wonderful pork marinade, and Cranberry Tart Strawberry/Jalapeno/Garlic Jam, which when carmalized slightly over baked chicken is "to die for."
A special concoction of powdered vegetables and spices added to salted diced tomatoes perfectly mimics our fresh canned salsa...and you can take it on an airplane! Consumers appreciate the freshness, the variety of offerings, and the chance to taste before purchasing. We also enjoy introducing folks to things they may not have eaten before such as luffa gourd and winged beans. Last fall we taught people to recognize and use the common weed, purslane, perhaps the highest-potency vegetable source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Is there anything new on the horizon? New products, seasonal items or specials?
Blackberry jam and lemon marmalade are new this month. Watermelon rind pickle and pickled okra will be back very soon! This week, Gena will be making a Southern Chow Chow which has corn and lima beans in addition to cabbage and cauliflower. Yum! Currently, you will also be introduced to chickweed at our table. This plant, which is growing abundantly now, is very nutritious. It tastes like corn when raw and cooked spinach when lightly steamed. And it's free if you have it in your yard! You just have to learn to recognize it. In response to customer requests, we are also seeking approval to bring non-organic free-range farm eggs.
What do you like most about the Seaside Market?
The great variety of absolutely delicioius offerings and the social interactions! Dairy, bakery, vegetables, granola, organic products, fresh produce from wonderful vendors who are all enthusiastic about what they are doing. The Seaside Farmer's Market is a "must" experience for our out-of-town visitors!
photos courtesy of e.m. marcus | photography