Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bailey's Buying Club - sweet potatoes not so sweet

Hi Folks,

Are you sitting down to satisfying meals these days? We've moved into
soup and stew mode. The winter mode. I discovered a "Brunswick Stew"
that is full-bodied flavour. I think the key ingredients are the
Worcestershire sauce and sweet corn. I used a vegetarian recipe from
Sundays at Moosewood and added that lovely turkey sausage from Miriam.

Naamon called me yesterday and asked "So, how are the sweet potatoes?"
I told him that mine were turning black very quickly and even the
non-black parts had a bitter taste sometimes. I thought I had stored
them in too warm of a location. No, he said. It's blight. After
selling us our sweet potatoes, they did not sell anymore because they
saw that they were rotting before their eyes. If you haven't checked
your sweet potatoes, please do so you don't end up with a slimy mess.
Naamon only charged $4 for a half bushel in hopes that you were able
to eat $4 worth before they went bad. He wants to make sure that you
know that local food IS good quality (not black sweet potatoes). With
blight, the plants look fine, the tubers look fine at harvest and then
they rot quickly. It is the second year that they've grown sweet
potatoes so they are still learning. The first year this did not
happen. It is a big loss of time and labour for them. Just think of
all the work of planting those rows, hoeing, harvesting, washing,
sorting and packing. The $4 a box will cover the cost of the cardboard
box and then a little extra to go toward all that work (as well as my
mark up to pay for transportation and costs).

Now, how to refund you the $11 dollars?! For the sake of simplicity,
I'd like to suggest that we donate that money to St. John's Kitchen.
With 33 orders for half bushels of orange sweet potatoes, that comes
to $363 I can donate on your behalf. If any of you are uncomfortable
with this suggestion, please don't hesitate to email me and I'll
propose another solution. If I don't hear from you by Dec 1, I'll
assume you're okay with me donating the money.

Some of you were asking about returning jars to Naamon to be reused.
He is willing to wash and reuse them so if you drop them off here in
our little side porch beside the driveway, I'll collect them and take
them back to Naamon. You can drop them off anytime but if it is Monday
or Friday, I'll probably be home with the kids.

I was talking to a dedicated local food enthusiast who refuses to open
any of her/their canned or dried foods until Winter solstice. Such
discipline! We can't seem to stop eating these peaches - and the pear
apple sauce is going quickly too. I used our dried grape tomato
halves on top of quiche yesterday and they are amazing especially with
sweet corn in the quiche.

I was feeling so rich and so blessed with a houseful of local food so
I wrote a list of everything that we have with some estimates of
quantities. I put that on the fridge along with a list of meal ideas
(and a few page numbers for recipes) that include these ingredients.
It's been helpful when my mind is blank on what to make for supper.

What is happening next year with the buying club? Still a big
mystery. I've been laying low and recovering from a buying club
season that was like a ride on a frisky horse. Exhilarating while also
stressful, exhausting, and a bit out of control. But VERY EXCITING!
Whew! And fun. Did I mention fun?! I'm ready to start wheels turning
and brainstorming now with other folks. I've been stewing over it
everyday, of course. One thing I'm feeling clear about is that I
don't want to lose the residential connection. If this moves to a
commercial location, it really loses something important. To try to
describe that "something important" I'd say it is walkability and the
value of neighbours connecting. I may send you a survey via Google
Docs to bounce a few ideas off of you again and get your feedback. I
did that in June and it was really helpful. That was how I learned
that many of you did NOT want a user fee or a requirement of a minimum

If you've got an idea for how this buying club should or should not
continue, please email me. No idea is too crazy to consider!

I hope you and your families are enjoying each other.
I miss seeing you all.

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