Check out some really fabulous shops I found scouting out Cleveland, Ohio. This midwest city has a vibrant craft community and you can find out more about activities in and around Cleveland as well as the artists that call it home at the Cleveland Handmade group website.
I would be remiss not to mention that this week, August second through the eighth, is National Farmer’s Market week. Declared by Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, National Farmer’s Market week has been giving growers and local food junkies something — or some time, rather — to celebrate since it was originally recognized by the USDA in 2000.
I personally celebrated by plunking down just over twenty dollars at our local market on ten pounds of blueberries and five more of green beans. The green beans — aside from those that barely made it home before being eaten straight from the bag by my daughters — now reside in my freezer, a reminder that a long and cold winter is quickly approaching us here. And the blueberries, you ask. As I type this the blueberries are gracing every part of my kitchen. Three nine by thirteen trays are covered with them in the freezer, two trays of my food dehydrator are graced with their pureed goodness hoping to become tasty fruit leather by tomorrow morning, two more trays are dehydrating whole berries for trail mixes and the refrigerator shelves are covered in five more pints awaiting distribution to family, friends, and yes, my morning yogurt.
These days our market is like our second home. But I also realize not everyone has such an intimate relationship with their local growers and remember the feeling of intimidation and sheer confusion the first time I stepped foot in a city market. So, in honor of National Farmer’s Market week, I’d like to offer a few tips for successfully shopping a farmer’s market. If you’re a newbie on the handmade and homegrown scenes I hope they’re of help. If you’re an old pro, consider sharing your tips in the comments.
1. Bring a bag. Or if you’re a heavy shopper like me a few bags, a wagon, and a helper for when your arms get tired. In fact, consider bringing containers and small bags in addition to your bigger bags. These will help you corral the five peaches, three carrots, loaf of french bread, block of goat cheese, and pint of blueberries you go home with, rather than just tossing them all together and having to sort them out later.
2. Spend Time If it’s your first visit, or even if it’s not, don’t rush. Go early and plan to spend a few hours browsing the offerings. You may be surprised to uncover more than just tomatoes and cucumbers await. Plus, there’s nothing better than being surrounded by fresh, local produce and soaked in morning sun.
3. Be Friendly Make friends with the vendors. Ask them about their products. Most are happy to answer your questions and excited to get to know the people whose homes their produce will be consumed in.
4. Seek Out Deals If you’re a repeat customer and not looking for the morning experience, consider going at the end of the day. Near closing time many vendors will mark their goods down for quicker sale. It’s better they go home with someone who will eat them than have to be carted back to the farm and potentially go to waste, after all.
5. Above all have fun! Shopping for groceries at the Farmer’s Market isn’t the grocery shopping we’re used to; the grocery shopping we dread. There are no flourescent lights poorly lighting the aisle, no wilting over-priced lettuce, and for the most part no surly cart-wielding consumers. Enjoy the moment, your fellows shoppers will be doing the same.
I’ve been busy getting ready for my very first craft fair–The Renegade Craft Fair–which is next weekend in Brooklyn. Renegade travels to multiple cities each year–it kicked off in Austin in May. Here are two of the lovely crafters who were at the fair in Austin.
Lora of b.bags began her business in 2008 with some experimenting, which I am very familiar with. I’ve been thinking lately about how sewing (and crafting in general) is 90 percent trial and error. Just finding the right design that works for you can take a long time. But if you stick with it, like Lora, you can find your groove. Every b.bag is handmade using upcycled materials, which is the practice of taking useless items and creating something new. This purse is extra eco-friendly because it serves two puposes at once—you can wear the bangle around your wrist, and the purse is both a place to put your trinkets and a stylish way to hit the town. I like the way the linear stitching on the applique. I also appreciate that Lora takes care to ensure each item she designs is durable and will last for a long time. For more information about b.bags please check out Lora’s Facebook page and her blog.
Jenny Rinzler,owner of Ciuccio Baby, realized early in life that it’s actually easier to learn how to make things that you want. Jenny started making clothes for her dolls (so did I!) and it evolved from there. After years of experimenting–a hippie dress made out of butterfly pattern sheets that didn’t quite make the runway–Jenny decided to try her hand at making a full size quilt as a wedding gift for her best friend. Well that project was so labor intensive Jenny thought perhaps the first quilt would also be the last. But then inspiration struck—she’d just make smaller quilts. She calls her mini-quilts “loveys” and they are just that–a perfect perch for a baby, a comfy blanket for a toddler, and a sweet soft memory of a loving childhood. Exactly what you want in a first-rate security blanket.
P.S. If you’re in Brooklyn June 5th and 6th, stop by to see me! I’ll be at a booth I’m sharing with my childhood friend (next door neighbor! Jennifer Cooke of Raeburn Ink… Jen also has a new book coming out soon about customizing t-shirts.
We all know about the 3 Rs – reduce, reuse & recycle. When it comes to plastic bags, though, the last option is generally not a viable one. First of all, there is virtually no market for recycled plastic bags. Glass, paper and metal are all commonly recycled, while plastic bags are literally left to blow in the wind. We all need to take personal responsibility and place our focus on reducing and reusing to combat the bag issue.
Reducing is easy; we can all minimize our personal consumption simply by making reusable cloth bags part of our regular shopping habit. Reusing, on the other hand, sometimes takes an artistic eye and some innovative thinking to come up with a solution. It’s a good thing that there are some clever, crafty people out there willing to take on that challenge on our behalf.