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May 9th, 2011

Emmaus Farmers’ Market

nancy-80x80I hated to miss the season opening of the Emmaus Farmers’ Market last Sunday. It’s becoming the social gathering place of our community from May through November, attracting larger crowds every year. Car troubles grounded me in town yesterday, which had the bad effect of keeping me away from a family celebration but also the good effect of allowing me to get to the market for its second Sunday. That’s one of the things I like best about the market: I don’t need a car to get there (though sometimes I have to remind myself not to fill my shopping bags too full lest I collapse on the walk home).

Another thing I like about the market is that many people bring their dogs. In fact, I think that may be the primary reason some of them come, with fresh produce being secondary.

HappyDog

Chillin' at the market

The market’s managers obviously strive for a balance of farm products. Here are some of the early-season offerings.

A wide variety of vegetable, herb, and flower starts, many heirloom:

Seedlings

Seedlings2

Beeswax candles handcrafted with wax from the hives of the Stagecoach Orchard Apiary:

Beeswax

A bison skull representing Backyard Bison, which sells products made from pasture-raised bison, including all parts of the animal—from meat and bones to hide and wool (softest yarn you’ve ever felt!):

BisonSkull

Farm-canned spaghetti sauces and ketchup:

Sauces

Symbols of spring:

PussyWillow

Keith Hausman of Hausman’s Fruit Farm arrives at the market each Sunday pulling his produce truck behind this vintage John Deere tractor (yesterday, he brought asparagus and homemade baked goods):

Tractor2

Tractor

Since this Sunday was Mother’s Day, Melanie DeVault of Pheasant Hill Farm offered an imaginative selection of “found” containers filled with lovely plantings. They ranged from petite…

WallPockets

Teakettles

CoffeeUrn

Truck

…to more statuesque:

Tricycle

Chair

This year the market has added more prepared foods to the mix. I may be lunching here after church until the snow starts flying.

I’ll be taking photos throughout the season as more goodies come to market!

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May 2nd, 2011

Tenacity

Sprouting in crevasses in asphalt parking lots. Dangling from freeway overpasses. Thriving in poisoned brownfields. Plants are much, much tougher than we give them credit for. I saw proof positive last week when I visited the newest attraction in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley: The ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

As I approached the site, I craned my head skyward in awe at the antique Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces that form the backdrop for the ArtsQuest Center, snapping pictures along the way:

Bethlehem Steel Corporation blast furnaces

Bethlehem Steel Corporation blast furnaces

Bethlehem Steel Corporation blast furnaces

Bethlehem Steel Corporation blast furnaces

It was then that I noticed something odd: About three-quarters of the way up several of the rusting metal furnaces were sizable trees, receiving their nutrients from who knows where. They look tiny in my photos, but that’s because I was shooting from below, and the furnaces are more than 100 feet (about 8 stories)  tall. I’m guessing the handrails on the catwalks shown here are about 3 feet tall, and the trees look to be at least twice that height; probably 8 to 10 feet:

BlastFurnaces2

BlastFurnaces3

The trees were probably “planted” by birds that carried the seeds aloft in their crops, or by the wind. The question is, what keeps them alive? Is there enough bird guano up there to fertilize them? Have other animals, such as rats, helped in the effort? It would be interesting to get up there for a closer look. Maybe when the furnaces are repainted, as is the plan, the workers can take some photos for us.

The area surrounding the once-loud and hot furnaces will soon resound with a multitude of musical performances as the former brownfield at the Bethlehem Steel site is transformed into a cultural destination for the community and tourists. It will be a model for other communities looking to redevelop similar brownfields.

In the meantime, my hat is off to Mother Nature for showing us that she will revegetate almost any human-built environment, if given half a chance.

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