Last weekend, Maine escaped the wild storm that hit much of the Eastern Seaboard. The storm dropped freezing rain on North Carolina, where Shannon and Mike now live, and headed north to dump over a foot of snow in places such as New York City, where Dee lives. Then it went out to sea, leaving us unscathed.
Therefore, on Saturday, we went to Longfellow’s Greenhouses for the winter farmers’ market they host from January 9 to February 27, from 9:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is held in their “mall”, a long strip, covered like a green house, that connects the retail store to the actual greenhouses.
Our own Farmer Kev was there, and we stocked up on potatoes and carrots, two essential winter vegetables. (In the fall, I had already stocked up on his winter squash.)
We chatted with Farmer Kev for a bit, and we learned he has his very own farm now in West Gardiner. Quite an accomplishment for a young man who isn’t even thirty and who doesn’t come from a farming family, from whom he will inherit land.
When we were done talking to Farmer Kev, we wandered up and down the mall, looking at the various products. So many good things to sample and see, but we were especially taken with Zen Bear, which sells honey and honey tea. We talked with Frank Ferrel, formerly of Maine Public Broadcasting fame and currently one of the owners of Zen Bear. (He and his wife Lisa run the business.) He told us that the honey comes from Amish farmers in Aroostook County in Maine.
We sampled some of the teas—“a gently infused herb, spice, honey and tea mixture…” All were delicious, but the one I liked the best was the Mocha Chaga, made from cacao, honey, Maine sea salt, chaga, and lucuma. According to Zen Bear’s website, chaga “is a medicinal mushroom that grows on decaying birch trees.” According to Wikipedia, lucuma “is a subtropical fruit native to the Andean valleys of Chile, Ecuador, and Peru.”
Quite the exotic drink for central Maine in January, but the cherry on the sundae, so to speak, was when Ferrel told us about how chaga was extremely high in antioxidants. (He had some tested at the University of Maine.)
All right, so Mocha Chaga is exotic—for a Mainer—and high in antioxidants. But how does it taste? I am happy to report that it has the delicious taste of hot cocoa, albeit one that has unusual ingredients and is high in antioxidants. I bought a jar of Mocha Chaga and had a cup this morning for elevenses. It was very good indeed.
Potatoes and carrots, honey tea made from chaga and lucuma. You never know what you’ll find at a farmers’ market.