Slow flowers arrive at Rye farmers market

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By NICOLE REED

Did you know there’s a slow flower movement? 

According to the June through August 2014 edition of The Valley Table, “in 2012, Americans spent $27.8 billion on floriculture items, the vast majority of them grown in industrial greenhouses, swaddled in several layers of plastic, refrigerated in coolers and flown thousands of miles to the states…80 percent of the cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported.”

The slow flower movement, in echoing the well-known beacon of the slow food movement, aims to celebrate the blooms that grow here in our home region. By buying from area flower growers, we spend our money with local business owners who, in turn, can keep growing their beautiful products on regional farm land.

Here’s the great news.

At Rye’s Down to Earth Farmers Market, we can support both the slow food and the slow flower movements. Take Newgate Farms of Windsor, Conn., for example. This five-generation family farm on 65 acres dedicates two acres solely to cut flowers. Newgate’s field is full of gladiolas, dahlias and sunflowers, just to name a few.

Newgate Farms was founded as Sedor Farms in 1933 and, for a long time, it sold mainly to the wholesale market. In the 1970s, during the first wave of farmers market interest in the U.S., the family started selling directly to customers at local markets and soon saw they preferred it. Their new approach brought the new name, Newgate Farms, and now they’ve been a popular vendor at the Rye Farmers Market for years.

Farmer Judith Sedor says Newgate’s flowers and produce grow in “very rich, rock-free soil, known as Windsor soil.” She said Windsor, Conn., has long been called The Capital of Tobacco Valley; the area used to attract numerous tobacco farms with its hospitable soil.

“That’s all changing now because people don’t want tobacco,” Sedor said. “So some of our neighboring farms are transitioning into orchards or wine vineyards, for example.”

For the Sedor family, in addition to their gorgeous summer bouquets, their Windsor soil is home to all the crowd favorite crops of the summer harvest. During July, their market tables overflow with greens, herbs, berries, currants, green and yellow beans, peas, squash, beets, tomatoes and more.

Take it from the farmer herself: Judith’s favorite summer dish is a simple, from-the-hip squash recipe. She takes a yellow squash or a zucchini—or a patty pan squash—and slices it thin like a cucumber. She also cuts a scallion into small pieces. From there, she adds a couple of tablespoons of oil and a little butter to a warm pan on the stove. She adds in the scallion, stirs it up for a bit and then adds in the squash. Saute the foods “to your liking—some people like really soft squash and others like it to keep a bite.”

When she’s done sautéing, she turns off the burner and crumbles some of her family’s favorite cheese over the squash mixture. Then she puts the lid on the pan and lets it sit for three minutes, so the cheese melts over the veggies.

“It’s so easy, yet everyone loves it,” she said.

With farm fresh dishes like this, it’s inviting to imagine the Sedor family at the dinner table after a day of working on the farm together. It’s a regular scene, as all five of the Sedor children work with their parents on the land.

“We’re a family pulling together to keep on farming,” Judith Sedor said.

Rye’s Down to Earth Farmers Market offers seasonal produce and flowers from Newgate Farms and other local producers, as well as pasture-raised meat, poultry and eggs; artisanal breads and baked goods; pickles; pies made with seasonal fruits; prepared foods to go; locally roasted nuts and coffees and much more.

The market is open every Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the parking lot behind the Purchase Street stores. The Rye farmers market season runs through Dec. 7, 2014.