Monday, October 3, 2011

Cider pressing and mountain music at final Joseph market

Accordionist Lorraine Ragsdale
Visitors to the Wallowa County Farmers’ Market in Joseph on Saturday, Oct. 8, will witness the old-fashioned practice of pressing apples into cider against a background of live old-time music. 

A cider press built by Mike Hamman of Enterprise will be used to make cider from donated apples. The press was inaugurated at the Farmers’ Market last year and proved to be a big hit, according to Beth Gibans, the market’s board president. 

Music will be provided by the nine-member Homemade Jam string band, specializing in “old-timey” mountain music. 

This will be the final Farmers’ Market of the season, and many of the market’s regular vendors will participate, selling produce, beef, soap, bakery goods and crafts. The market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Main and Joseph streets. 

The Homemade Jam band first formed to play at the Maxville Gathering in 2010. Although the band has been organized only since spring 2010, the original four members – Lorraine Ragsdale and her husband, Mike Ragsdale; Lorraine's daughter, Sandi Richerson, and her husband, Larry Richerson – have been playing together for many years.

 “The band's focus is on old-time, fun mountain music that people recognize and love,” Sandi says. “Toe tapping and smiles is what it's all about.” 

Lorraine plays the accordion and other instruments, Mike sings and plays lead guitar, Sandi plays autoharp and Larry plays rhythm guitar. Fiddler Caleb Samples soon joined the band, along with Rusty Woods on bass. 

Word soon got out about the kind of music the band was playing, and Laura Skovlin brought her banjo and sweet voice to the group. Later, Sue Juve joined the band with her strong voice, rhythm guitar and fun personality, followed by Ryya Fluit, who sometimes joins the band with her fiddle.

 All members live in or near Joseph. 

The band has performed at various events, primarily within Wallowa County but occasionally in nearby venues. Performances have included the Bowlby Bash and Watershed Festival in Enterprise, the Wallowa Valley Arts Festival, Eagle Cap Sled Dog Awards Dinner, Mutiny is Brewing, Ember's Brewhouse, antique fairs, flea markets, barn dances, the farmer's market and private parties. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Where's the beef? Here at the market with the wine

Matt Gilstrap talks wine
As our farmers' markets expand, wine tasting and local beef have joined our regular produce growers and other vendors. And beef gets explained at the Joseph market on Saturday, Aug. 6.

Gilstrap Brothers Winery from nearby Cove has offered tastings and sold wine by the bottle for several weeks now, and has been a popular feature at the markets in Enterprise and Joseph. Gilstrap will be joined by Lathrop Country Wines this week at both markets.

Lathrop is owned by winemaker Scott Lathrop and his wife, Ruby, who also is manager of the Enterprise branch of Sterling Savings Bank. Lathrop recently opened a tasting room in Joseph and, like Gilstrap Brothers, will be offering tastes and wine by the bottle.

Wallowa County grassfed beef similarly has been represented at the Enteprise market for several weeks now by Alpine Acres, the Lostine ranch of Blake Carlsen, who raises "petite beef" with big flavor.

On Saturday at the Joseph market, local grassfed beef – leaner and more nutritious – will be discussed by Sara Miller of Magpie Ranch, from where Bunchgrass Beef comes. Her presentations at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. will be accompanied with tastes.

A tender steak and some great wine – what could be better?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Salmon vs. Salmon at the Farmers' Market in Joseph

Cherries and strawberries have arrived, garlic scapes (the green tops) were the subject of a great presentation last Saturday and now . . .

Salmon vs. Salmon! It's wild native salmon pitted against farm-raised salmon – which should you look for?

Mary Edwards and Mellie Pullman will answer the question this Saturday, July 9, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Slow Food Wallowa County booth at the market in Joseph. Come and join us. Here's the news release we sent to local media outlets:

Farm-raised salmon? A no-no for environmental, culinary reasons, 
says Joseph expert

JOSEPH – Scrutinize that seemingly good-looking salmon fillet at your grocery store. If the label says it was farm raised, buy something else.

That's the suggestion of Mary Edwards of Joseph, an expert who will advise on buying salmon at the Wallowa County Farmers' Market in Joseph on Saturday, July 9.

Edwards, a Nez Perce Fisheries research biologist who studies Pacific Northwest salmon, and Mellie Pullman, a Portland State University food chain authority who also knows her salmon, will speak at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the market, Main and Joseph streets in downtown Joseph.

Wild Pacific salmon are preferable for flavor and because of the environmental damage caused by salmon farming, according to Edwards.

"Fish farms are detrimental to native fish and the environment," she said. "Most of the farmed fish are Atlantic salmon because they grow faster. They rear the salmon in net pens. Their concentrated influence is detrimental. Their feces releases ammonia and causes a 'dead zone.' The poor critters that live on the ocean floor are decimated."

Some fish escape and compete with native fish for habitat, she said.

Atlantic salmon naturally have pale flesh, Edwards noted. As a result, the farms feed them a supplement called astaxanthin to mimic the bright pink or red color found in wild fish, she said.

To find fresh salmon, Edwards recommends going fishing or shopping for wild sockeye, chinook and coho salmon, available at least occasionally in chain supermarkets.

Don't be a salmon glutton, however, she suggests, because native salmon stocks have a limit. That's why the Nez Perce tribe and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife work to hatch and release native salmon species.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The 2011 Season is Under Way!

Despite the cool, wet spring, the 2011 season has been heating up at the Wallowa County Farmers' Market.

From our start with the annual Spring Planting Festival on May 28, we've had vegetable plants, greens, radishes, asparagus, spring onions and other early-season vegetables from Beth Gibans' Backyard Gardens and Sherrie Currie's Produce. Recently, strawberries and cherries have appeared, and we expect a much wider variety soon with more vendors. (Remember, we're at 4,000 feet.)

Additionally, of course, there are flowering plants from The Flower Peddler, Wildflour Bakery goods, Sally B. Farms' rich, handmade goat milk soap, bath and body products from Whispering Pines Bed and Bath, Wallowa Lake Fudge Co. goodies, woodworkers' handcrafts, the ever-popular Kettle Korn, that temptingly fragrant, slightly salty, barely sweet popcorn, and more.

You'll also find a series of demonstrations and presentations from Slow Food Wallowa County (click on the Special Events tab above), kids' activities at the Enterprise Market led by Building Healthy Families and information on the student-tended Magic Garden at Joseph School.

It's all at the Farmers' Market.