On Wednesday, Farmland Coordinator Becca Weaver left the office to venture out to New Lands Farm, run by Lutheran Social Services (LSS), to teach their program participants about pest management. The workshop participants were refugees and two translators were present to interpret the lesson into Nepalese and Swahili. The program at New Lands Farm has expanded in recent years and on Wednesday there were over 30 participants who came to learn to identify common New England vegetable pests and about the best control methods to protect their delicious vegetables. These talented growers, now armed with row cover and Surround, are more prepared for the challenges of agriculture in Massachusetts.
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If you didn’t already know, the Lowell Farmer’s Market features four New Entry Farmers. I like to hang out and learn about the different ethnic produce grown, harvested, and sold by them. Not only do they get customers who are looking specifically for these ethnic crops, but also others who are not afraid to approach them and ask what a particular vegetable is and how it might be used. In exchange, the farmers have always been so patient to share that information with them.
Last Friday, while poking around, I noticed Mr. Kim selling a lot of these “Asian Cucumbers.” He has me pick it up and smell it to show me what a good one would feel like. As with most desirable fruits and vegetables, it’s heavy for its size and firm to the touch. It’s mild, sweet scent reminds me of the Korean summer melons I grew up enjoying with my family. Before I can say anything about the melon scent, he immediately adds, “It’s not sweet. It’s more like a cucumber. It’s best as a smoothie.” “As a smoothie?” I’m obviously confused. “Yeah, just chop it up, blend it with some sugar and milk. Or slice it and put some sugar on top.” So next time you see this sweet smelling cucumber, give it a try. Maybe it’ll become a new taste of summer.