By Sarah Schrock
If you haven’t been to the Methow Valley Farmers Market recently, you will be pleasantly surprised by the number of new vendors and farm stands this year. All the oldies but goodies are also still going strong.
Methow Gold, pure raw honey by Blane Rogers, is always one of my regular stops. Blane’s honeybees are busy this year producing lots of great honey, according to Blane. Accrediting the high snow pack and cool temperatures this summer for keeping soil moisture levels slightly higher than previous years, the bees have plenty of natural nectar to slurp up from wildflowers and weeds.
Similarly, fall rains seem to be the key to a great honey year when water saturates the soil column before winter snow falls, allowing for longer, more spectacular wildflower blooms. Blane sells different batches of honey based on what the bees have been pollinating. The spring batch comes from early spring flowers such as apple blossoms, choke cherries and balsamroot. The summer batch comes from clovers, alfalfa, thistles and knapweed and baby’s breath.
Speckle Farm is a new addition to the market this year. It is operated by Emily Swezey, an ambitious young farmer who has started cultivating her grandfather’s 30 acres up French Creek. The property burned during the Carlton Complex Fire in 2014, so Emily is building up the soil on the first 1/8-acre plot from the ground up, working with native soils that have never been farmed.
Future plans will include animal husbandry, but this year Speckle Farm is growing a variety of vegetable and root crops. Radishes in beautiful shades of pink, white and purple and easily the size of golf balls drew me to her table. Her enthusiasm and gracious offering of advice on my flea beetle problems that attack my potatoes in early spring sealed the deal. I sprung for a bundle of her radishes and am rationing them out, one a day, to savor the pleasure of eating them.
Also new to market this year is the mobile pizzeria Manjapizza. The wood-fired, trailer-mounted pizza oven is carted around to markets and festivals by Bo Lo and Kaarin Starr. With vegetarian and meat pizza offerings, Manjapizza is made with handmade dough, rolled and baked to order.
Burton Street residents are losing a great neighbor this week as Sandi Scheinberg and her two daughters Pearl and Lulu embark on a new life in Hood River, Oregon. A work party team of neighbors and friends helped Sandi pack up her U-haul on Sunday morning. With muscle and teamwork, the entire two-bedroom house was puzzle-pieced into the truck in three hours.
Sandi bought and renovated her home on Burton Street nearly a decade ago. A natural and skilled community organizer and nonprofit consultant, Sandi has served the valley’s nonprofits such as TwispWorks, Room One, and Methow Valley Long Term Recovery in a variety of roles in development, programming and outreach during her tenure in Twisp.
Sandi’s move marks a new beginning for herself where she will work with nonprofits in the Columbia Gorge region, and for her kids who will be closer to grandparents who live on the Oregon Coast. It’s a bittersweet departure. Friends and neighbors will miss Sandi’s ambitious and supportive drive but are excited to see the trio thrive in a new community — plus, Hood River is a great place to visit!