The Zen of March

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. (Lao tse)

March is the month that teaches us patience. While we yearn for lush, leafy trees, golden daffodils and warblers singing their hearts out, March meanders to its own rhythm and time table. One day it is regressing back to February and on another day it boldly leaps toward April. We admire the plucky perseverance of the crocuses poking up through the frosty ground and the resilience of the wood frogs breeding in icy-cold ponds, making their appearance known even before the trilling of the spring peepers. The one   constant is the ever increasing length of daylight. As the earth’s orbit angles toward the sun and achieves the sweet spot we call the vernal equinox (March 20, 6:29am) the days start to become longer than the nights. Daylight Savings on March 12 will result in the sun setting at 6:50 pm. Let there be light!

The sugar maples may appear to be dormant, leafless sentinels in the forest but the pulsing, irrepressible life force of sap flows  inexorably from the roots all the way up to the towering branches. Some of that sap is being tapped and collected at Harm’s Farm sugarbush in Brookfield. It will take 40 gallons of sap evaporated down to one gallon of luscious liquid to produce their fine   Worcester County maple syrup. Of course it’s great on pancakes but try a splash in a cup of yogurt, a bowl of oatmeal, in a marinade or New England BBQ sauce. Back Roads granola (Brattleboro, Vermont), available in our bulk department, uses Vermont maple syrup and honey as unrefined sweeteners in their original and gluten free varieties.

Two new gems from the Emerald Isle: In addition to our usual assortment of classic Irish cheeses including Cahill Porter and      Wexford Cheddar, we are bringing in two new varieties that have won much acclaim as well as awards in Ireland and the British Isles. Milleens is a washed rind soft cheese and is considered to be first “modern” farmhouse cheese in Ireland, created by the late     Veronica Steele in 1976. Friesian cows, grazing on the pastures of the rugged, windswept Beara peninsula of West Cork in         southwestern Ireland, provide the rich milk for this pungent, aromatic cheese. Veronica’s son, Quinlan, now runs the farm and cheese-making operation. Paddy Berridge produces Carrigbyrne Farmhouse Cheeses in Wexford County, near the coast of        southeastern Ireland. Humming Bark is one of his newer cheeses and has been heralded as one of the finest cheeses in all of      Ireland. The milk comes from a herd of Friesian cows crossed with the Jersey breed resulting in a cheese with a higher protein and fat content. The washed rind cheese is wrapped and aged in a strip of spruce bark, with a hint of resinous character delicately     permeating the cheese. This bold, pungent cheese is not for the faint-hearted but those with adventurous palates will be rewarded with a full bodied, flavorful taste of Irish creamy goodness. Humming Bark has won numerous awards including Reserve Champion at the British Cheese Awards in 2014 and the Great Taste Award in 2015 and 2016.

The High Mowing Seed Rack features a selection of over 50 organic, non GMO seeds to choose from including many heirloom,   hybrid and open pollinated varieties. High Mowing is based in Wolcott, Vermont and specializes in organic seeds that are especially adapted to New England’s relatively short growing season. Now is time to start your tomatoes, peppers and eggplant indoors to give them the head start they need before being transplanted in May after the threat of a frost has passed. Hardy varieties like peas can be planted in mid-March while hardy greens such as kale and collards can be planted outside in early to mid-April. If you can’t wait for fresh greens to grace your table, dig out your sprouter jar and do some indoor gardening. Alfalfa, clover, radish and fenugreek seeds will all sprout within several days and provide a nutritious addition to any salad or sandwich. Chickpeas, lentils and wheat berries are also easy to sprout. If you’re not inclined to do your own sprouting, check out Rob’s selection of Farming Turtles sprouted organic micro- greens. They are harvested within 13 days after germination and recent research has found microgreens to be 4 to 40 times more nutritious than their mature counterparts. Farming Turtles, Inc. is a New England company based out of   Exeter, Rhode Island on the west side of Narragansett Bay. Kermit the frog once said it wasn’t easy being green but the Farming Turtles and Rob’s produce case sure make it easy to eat your organic greens!