Friday, November 11, 2011

Street Markets in Hong Kong - where fresh is not directly from the farmer

Rochester Public Market vendors, Jay and Dick Haberger with shopper
Have you ever met the live chicken you later eat for dinner? Chad Amsler of Oldhome Farm in Walworth, and Jay and Dick Hayberger of Hayberger Farm in Hamlin sell live chickens at the Rochester Public Market. However, they do not process them on the spot for you to take home to eat.

Recently I was in Hong Kong and met the chicken we ate for dinner that evening. I was visiting our daughter and her family.

I went to the local street market daily with their helper Lisa who bargained and bought fresh produce, fruit, fish, meat or chicken for each day's meals.

To buy a chicken for dinner, first Lisa selected the price she wanted to pay, determined by the cage in which live chickens were stored. After thrusting the chicken almost in our face, the butcher dunked it, feathers and all, into one of the holes in the machine to the right of the cages. That I couldn't watch. When we returned 15 minutes later, the dressed chicken, feet and all, was ready to leave.

There were the vegetable stalls—variety of   vegetables like Chinese cabbage, choy sum, Japanese eggplant, bok choy, bitter melon, Chinese broccoli, mustard greens, daikon, taro . . .

And the fruit stalls . . . mango, pineapple, banana, Asian pears, apples, watermelon, kiwis, oranges . . .

And the fish stalls, whole or fillet—dead or alive, big or small . . .

Whether shopping for food, clothing, household supplies, hardware or shoe repair, there is a vendor there to meet one's needs.

Wherever I turned, there were people, cars, construction or carts. Often I went to the market with Lisa and my grandson. Even though he is only two years old, he's right in the midst, meeting the vendors from whom his dinner comes. What an amazing experience for him as well as for me!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Farmers' Markets are a Way of Life: From Turkey to Washington, DC

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer years ago, I shopped at my town's local farmers' market. I lived in Eastern Turkey, far from Istanbul. Women wore colorful baggy pants called shalvars, squatting on the ground where they spread out their produce to sell. Men wore black shalvars and ragged sports jackets. They sold products like hot peppers from burlap bags, feta cheese from five gallon tins, dried eggplants and oranges in season.
In 2001 I returned to Turkey. While visiting a former student in Istanbul, I visited their local Monday  market.

Everything was available - from shoes and melons, grilled meat and grapes, clothes and kitchen wares. The market traveled going from one local area to another throughout the week.
Ten years later in 2011, the Peace Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary in Washington, DC. When I was there for the festivities, I saw an empty parking lot on the corner of Independence and 12th Street. On that rainy Friday, there was a Farmers' Market run by the US Department of Agriculture.
It was not nearly as colorful or big as that market in my town in Eastern Turkey or in Istanbul. However, the farmers were selling produce they grow or products they make like honey, cider or apples, pickles, pastries, or beef. The farmers come from nearby farms in Maryland or Virginia. The market is open on Fridays from June to October. Its operating instructions are available at

Next to the market is the People's Garden, a USDA project, showing the relationship between what is grown and what is eaten. Even in late September, several raised beds were filled with herbs or lettuce. Others had been harvested and looked as if they were prepared for winter.                                                         
The purpose of the People's Garden is

  • to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for those in need or native trees, shrubs and flowers for wildlife.
  • to demonstrate sustainable practices that nurture, maintain, and protect the health of our soil, water and air. To provide a beautiful place in our neighborhood to gather, learn, share and enjoy.
To find out more about the People's Garden and its initiatives, log onto:

Today farmers markets, big or small, are an important part of many people's lives.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2012 Calendar - Celebrating Diversity at the Rochester Public Market

Fall is just around the corner and soon the holiday season will be here. What better gift than a 2012 calendar celebrating Rochester's rich agricultural and cultural diversity?

Featured on the calendar are photographs of over 40 farmers and vendors, with the products and produce each sell depending upon the season - winter, spring, summer and fall.

In winter, Alex Flowers, Flowers Farm in Red Creek, New York.

Year-round farmers Carol and Wally Liese of Liese Farm, Holley, New York.
In spring they brighten life with flowers.

Summer's glory - fresh corn from Meisenzahl Farm Honeoye,
brought by Milt Smith and Bill Marshall

Grapes from the Fingers Lakes vineyards are a Rochester speciality!

Included in the calendar is a short history of the market dating from its opening in 1905. Calendars are available locally at Parkleigh on Park Avenue (800-333-0627), High Falls Gallery at the Center at High Falls Visitor's Center on Brown's Race (585-325-2030) and the gift shop at Rundel Central Library on South Avenue (585) 428-7300.

 For more information, please contact Margaret Miyake,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Flowers in her garden

She designs her garden with color - flowers of intense pinks, cheerful yellows, deep purples and bright oranges. Dark greens set off the blues and reds. No flowers, however humble, is neglected - the daisy, phlox or day lily.  

Thanks for sharing your passion for color, design and flowers with all who walk by your urban garden.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Celebrating Diversity at the Rochester Public Market

Celebrating Diversity
at the Rochester Public Market

The Rochester Public Market is a mosaic of diversity, a vibrant mix of cultures and nationalities where Rochester natives and recent immigrants come to shop among colorful displays of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and to celebrate our area's agricultural and ethnic diversity. 

Celebrating Diversity is an exhibit of photographs I have taken documenting Rochester's ethnic, cultural, social, and agricultural diversity at the city's downtown market. The exhibit opens on Monday, July 18, with a reception from 5 - 7 PM in the Lower Link Gallery, Rundel Library, 115 South Avenue, Rochester, NY. The exhibit will be on display from July 18 to August 31, 2011 during regular library hours.

I have been photographing at the Rochester Public Market since 2006. Also included in the exhibit are photographs of visits I made to several local farms. The exhibit is free and open to the public. Please check the library for its summer hours.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

growing your own

Although Flower Sundays have passed at the Rochester Public Market, there are still many farmers from whom you can buy seedlings and plants for your home or community garden.

While I can buy almost any herb or vegetable fresh at the market, growing them in our garden at home is quite a treat for me. Merle and Shelia Palmiter, Palmiter's Garden Nurseries, Avon, grow a huge collection of herbs. I was thrilled to find shiso, a green leaf type herb used as a garnish with sashimi. I enjoy putting several shiso leaves on a fresh tomato sandwich.

Other necessary plants I've planted are tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers and even broccoli if there is enough space. One summer, Ginny Eaton, Eaton Farm, Ontario, planted seeds from a tomato I had grown the previous summer. Here is the result—a full six pack of tomato plants grown from those seeds! Where else in the world, could you find such an amazing farmer to go to such trouble!

Paul Watson has several greenhouses on his farm, Paul Watson Greenhouses, Rush. Even in mid-summer. he has herbs and plants available, like rosemary which I encouraged to grow until the first frost last year.

His sister, Sue Watsonworks full-time during the week, but helps Paul at the market on the weekends.

Flowers are always wanted. Since our small space is shaded, we can mainly plant impatiens, begonias, and perennials like sedum, hosta, lady's mantel, valerian, primrose, and the peonies that were there when we moved in. Hugh Stevenson and his wife Genny, Hu-Gen Greenhouses, Wayland, have flowers that I wish I could grow—lupines, lilies, lilacs, besides hundreds of annuals and other perennials. 

We have only a small space behind our townhouse, but I've planted several herbs to have at any time I need a pinch in a recipe—like parsley, basil, or thyme. Each summer we've enjoyed fresh herb plants which I've bought from Jeff Werner, Werner Farm Market, Rush, the happy guy in the center of this pictures.

If you don't have space at home, there are several community gardens in the city where you can rent a spot. Here is a link to

Whether you grow some local produce on your own or just come to the market to support our local farmers who do all the dirty work, enjoy all the local produce soon flooding our market.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

welcome back to the market

Welcome back to the market - farmers and vendors who are only at the market for 6 months, May to November. I've nicknamed them the "6-monthers". There are other farmers and vendors who are at the mnarket year-round, getting my nickname of the "12-monthers."
It's great to have the "whole market family" back together. Some of the 6-monthers I saw in early May are:

Hugh Stevenson, Hu-Gen Greenhouses, Wayland 
Hugh and his wife Genny didn't head South this winter as they have in previous years. They fired up the greenhouses in January and have a huge selection of flowers and bushes to bring to the market.

Paul Navarra, Navarra Farm Market and Greenhouses, Albion, NY

Diane Kemp, Stan's Quality flowers, Holley, New York
Shelia and Merle Palmiter, Palmiter's Garden Nursery, Avon, New York
Maureen Wilson, Herson Hill Winery, Keuka, New York
Lukas Mazerbo, Mansion Market Farms, Honeoye, New York

Charles Kopp, Kopp Farm, Corfu, New York

Gerti and Sam Pitti, Pitti Farm, Hilton, New York
The Pittis spent a few weeks in the Caribbean, staying warm!
Bob Peters, Peters Farm, Fairport, NY
It's wonderful to have Bob back at the market brining his llucious red rhubarb. Later in the season he'll have broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage - some heads as big as baseballs!
Carolyn Czarnecki, Maxon Farm Estates, Rush
Jeff Werner, Werner Farm Market, Rush
Carolyn was busy tappping maples trees in her farm's sugar bush this winter. They had a record season with over 800 gallons.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

hard working farmers love their jobs

Farming is hard, but from the enthusiastic responses of the farmers participating in the panel discussion at St. John Fisher at the opening of Crossroads of the Community, it is what they love.

Thanks to Anita Amsler, Deana Jones, Ginny Eaton, Louie Bell and Richard Hammann who answered questions about farming and selling at the Rochester Public Market, and to Joe Figliomeni whose father was a huckster in the 1930s and family has been selling at the market for more than 50 years.

“It’s our livelihood,” said Ginny. “I hated the farm when I was a kid,” said Deana, “but after a few years in the other working world, I came back. My sons love the farm, to

“We sell what we grow,” added Anita. “I’ve always been farming, even when I was a long-haul truck driver,” said Louie.

Richard briefly summed up his experiences of farming since he was ten years old.

Joe told the audience how in the hucksters, with their horse drawn carts, lined up waiting to enter the market.

I’d like to also thank Nancy Greco, Reference Librarian and Lavery Library Curator, at the St. John Fisher Library who made all the arrangements for the exhibit and Dr.David Baronov, Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at Fisher, with whom the exhibit was coordinated.

And lastly, an email from Joseph Sorrentino, photographer and playwright:


Your opening was great. I didn't realize you had a panel of farmers participating. In addition to taking some excellent photos, you're giving small farmers a chance to tell their story. That's very important and I'm so glad you're doing it.