Farmers Market

Five Questions for Gade Farm

These are the greenhouses in mid summer, full of bedding plants and hanging baskets grown on the farm.

These are the greenhouses in mid summer, full of bedding plants and hanging baskets grown on the farm.

Last year I asked my CSA farmer for advice on starting seeds indoors. He looked a bit sheepish and replied that he bought his seedlings from Gade Farm. That’s good, I thought, so do I! Gade is located near the junction of Route146 and Route 20. Situated on a busy road in the center of Guilderland they’re well positioned for retail but still grow most of what they sell on 100 acres and in their extensive greenhouses. My garden is stocked with Gade perennials and I usually pick up annuals and lettuce plants in the spring as well.

The photo was taken March 1. Can't wait for retail operations to start on March 20!

The photo was taken March 1. Can't wait for retail operations to start on March 20!

Produce is labeled by origin, which helps me support local farms.                                                     

Produce is labeled by origin, which helps me support local farms.                                                     

Started in the 1990s, the farm stand carries Gade-grown fruits and vegetables along with other locally grown food – all labeled as to origin. Prices are typically better than supermarkets and the food is always peak freshness. You can also find Meadowbrook Dairy milk, bacon from Oscar’s Smokehouse, local eggs, meat, cheese, and sausages. My neighbor swears by their raspberry pie. And because they also carry foods they don’t grow (you can get lemons and avocados) I’m often able to skip the grocery store altogether!

Gade Farm is a NYS Century Farm, which means that the Gade family has been farming here since 1878.  They support local food vendors and carry on a lively schedule of classes and other activities. You can find out more on their website: gadefarm.com. I caught up with a busy Jim Gade, who’s managing the farm now with his two brothers and getting ready for opening day on March 20.

1. How/when did you become a farmer? 

I grew up on our farm, and have been farming all of my life. I became a partner in the business in 1987.

2. What kind of farming do you do? 

We grow vegetables out in our fields, and in our greenhouses/fields we grow all sorts of bedding plants, vegetable starters, herbs, hanging baskets, perennials, and we have a large selection of roses, trees, & shrubs in our nursery.  We have about 1 acre in greenhouses (from cold frames to fully heated), where we grow all of our bedding plants, vegetables, hanging baskets, pots, perennials. Many start there and move outside, where there are about 3 acres for growing perennials and mums outdoors.   

3. What gets you up in the morning? 

Depending on the day, either the sunshine or my internal clock. Though some days when I’m really tired it’s my external alarm clock!! On market days (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) I get up at 4:30 a.m. to get to the Menands wholesale market to sell our product.

4. What keeps you up at night? 

The weather!  Especially when I hear that it is supposed to get really cold, I worry about the greenhouses staying up to temperature.  Also, when there is supposed to be a hail storm, too much rain, (or not enough), too cold, too hot... And it’s worse because these are things I have NO control over!

5. Do you have a favorite recipe to share? 

Some of my favorite foods are eaten best fresh out of the field -- watermelon on a hot summer day, corn on the cob, a fresh sliced tomato. Delicious!

Asparagus grown at Gade. © Laura Shore 2014.

Asparagus grown at Gade. © Laura Shore 2014.

Disconnecting from the industrial food system has been a fairly gradual process in our house. Our grandson still prefers Little Debbie brownies to Nancy’s homemade… and we still crave citrus in winter. But for the most part our food now has fewer frequent flier miles than we do and we couldn’t have done it without our farm CSA, the Schenectady Greenmarket, the Gade Farm, and the Honest Weight Food Co-op.

 

Bridging the Food Chasm

I'm about half way through Closing the Food Gap by Mark Winne and getting really mad. So many of the issues in the news today were identified so many years ago. Mark and his confreres started working on food and community issues in Hartford, CT in the SEVENTIES and were developing creative solutions to food deserts and food insecurity in urban areas. How is it possible that we would still be dealing with the same issues today?

In his book, Mark is candid about successes and failures — like a community co-op that closed after 19 months because of a lack of management expertise and financing. But beyond financing, he says, co-ops and farmers markets succeed when they appeal to a “well-educated member/customer base with a highly evolved food consciousness.” What lower income communities want is easy access to an up-to-date chain supermarket with broad selection and lower prices. 

While our region does have fairly good grocery store representation in our cities, there remains a food chasm between local food producers and low income consumers. The chain stores carry token amounts of local produce but to eat local/organic you must go to the co-op, farmers markets, or invest $450 in advance in a CSA — all of which are barriers to busy, cash strapped families. 

So this morning my frustration dissipated just a little when I read what the Capital District Community Gardens is doing. Since 2007 Community Gardens has been hosting Veggie Mobiles, which deliver fresh, locally grown produce to low income neighborhoods. On Wednesday, they launched an online marketplace — a "Virtual Veggie Mobile" — stocked by more than a dozen local farmers from around the region. This wholesale marketplace will serve group homes schools, hospitals, day care centers, restaurants and convenience stores. It’s an ambitious and holistic approach to bridging the food chasm. To learn more, or sign up your organization to purchase whole foods wholesale, visit market.cdcg.org.