The open forum of a marketplace provides a refreshing getaway from shopping aisles. Each venue offers a unique setting that may include activities for children, live entertainment and an array of foods. The curious shopper discovers she has direct access to fresh and locally grown fruits, herbs, flowers and vegetables, dairy-based products, proteins, homemade goodies and artisan-based, handmade crafts. In addition, the welcoming man, woman or couple behind the table provides a small sampling of popular items. Whether you are a first-timer or repeat customer, take the time to introduce yourself, ask questions and inquire if owners receive visitors, offer a produce box or have a farm store. Most likely, the answer is “yes” or “it’s coming soon!”
Supporting local farmers, growers, ranchers and artisans is the motivation to rise early Saturday morning and attend regional and new markets. For anyone wishing to experience a pastoral, scenic drive, which passes by a Christmas tree farm, consider attending the annual Mistletoe Market on Saturday, December 4th, just across the Virginia state line. You’ll find ornately designed, well-crafted toys, ornaments, candles, wreaths and other unexpected treasures! Residents of Winston-Salem are fortunate to have two diverse year-round farmer’s markets, whether it’s at Winston-Salem Fairgrounds or on Marshall Street. Cobblestone, open every Saturday from 8:30am-12pm, is where you can visit a local farmer, Ana Gonzalez of Sassafras Family Farm!
The Family Farm
Along a busy road, drivers pass by family farms every day, not realizing what lies beyond the house. Stepping onto Ana Gonzalez’s back patio is a paradise led by stepping stones and pathways to several native plant and vegetable gardens, an orchard and multiple greenhouses. Engaging in a no-till method, which implies layers of compost feed nutrients to the soil without disturbing the earth, the farm provides ample produce to the family and business. “We draw from sustainability, biodynamics and regenerative design to collaborate with nature,” writes daughter, Sara Gonzalez. “We compost, build our soil, practice slow agriculture, grow native and forgotten plants, maintain a larder, raise animals and carry out countless other activities that contribute to the health of the systems and cycles on a farm. We envision the farm as an ecosystem, as ambit, like a dinner party, as meditation and medicine, as a place for a different way of life. Our products speak for themselves because they also speak for the environment in which they were raised — happy and healthy.”
Arrange the Flowers
Walking through rows of dahlias, Ana shares, “I assess each plant for certain attributes. For example, cut flowers need to be vigorous, produce harvestable stems and have a good vase life or dry well. We also look at the color of the bloom! I collect a wide variety of flowers, including native plants and herbs to create whimsical, rhythmic and wild floral arrangements.” Concluding the fall season, flowers, herbs and berries are dried and selected for their brilliant, appealing colors to create wreaths and arrangements for select holidays.
Spicing and Blending
In the thrill of growing medicinal herbs, the gift arrives during the harvest season in the form of flower petals, leaves, seeds and roots. Once dried, Ana creates small batches of international blends amply described as warm and aromatic, tangy and spicy, or bittersweet and toasty. Try the Moroccan “Ras Al Hanout” or the Egyptian “Dukkah” for a new, sensational family meal! Perhaps you enjoy or know others who love exotic to comforting flavors, such as Chile Morita or Pear Chutney, or one of the many herb combinations infused in pink Himalayan sea salt.
Bath and Body
Medicinal health of herbs and spices extends through SFF’s handmade soaps, therapeutic lip balms and healing salves. Each product has a luxurious, creamy texture comprised of beeswax, oils, butters and essential oils.
Through the e-commerce website, www.sassfrasnc.com, you can shop from the comfort of your home, selecting appetizing or beneficial topicals or requesting a floral arrangement, such as a wreath. You’ll have an easy time shopping at Sassafras Family Farms!
Next Month: Farm Girl Arts