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Hannah Volunteers!

June 25, 2013

Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead.

Have you seen this smiling face before?

Image

Meet Hannah Redman, one of many Wild Ramp market volunteers.  Her role, and every volunteer who volunteers to work at the market, is essential to The Wild Ramp’s mission:  “to operate a year-round community-supported market that provides a viable economic outlet for local food producers while providing consumers access to locally grown agricultural products.”

Hannah is a senior at Marshall University, majoring in dietetics.  She also works at the Huntington Area Food Bank as the Agency Relations Assistant, when she’s not volunteering her time at The Wild Ramp or the Tri-State Literacy Council, as a literacy and ESL tutor.  Hannah’s story is an attestation of the importance social media now plays in our daily lives.  Not surprisingly, Hannah heard about The Wild Ramp on Facebook before the market even opened.  She saw other people talking about it and added The Wild Ramp’s page to her list of “likes”.

In January of 2013, Hannah began volunteering at TWR as part of a work study program at Marshall University.  The Marshall University Community Federal Work Study Program partners students with organizations that aim to improve the Huntington Area; through humanitarian programs, educational outreach and physical beautification.  The Wild Ramp is Hannah’s community partner.  As a volunteer, Hannah serves  “as a manger at the Ramp.  I do it all — run the register, answer phones, stock, work directly with producers, and oversee other volunteers during my shift.”

When asked what she has learned by volunteering at The Wild Ramp, she told me that she has  learned how important it is to know your farmer, how to care for different plants, and  how to grow her own food.  Not only is volunteering at The Wild Ramp a learning experience, but it is also a rewarding experience.  According to Hannah, volunteering at The Wild Ramp allows her to see the “customers buy foods that they enjoy” and “help our local economy.  I love the people a lot.  I love all the volunteers and board members that I work with.  They are all so passionate about it and it shows, …and it rubs off on you.”

Like so many of us, Jeni’s ice cream is Hannah’s favorite item in the market.

The next time you see Hannah at The Wild Ramp, say hello.

The Wild Ramp is staffed solely by volunteers, with the exception of one paid employee, the market manager.  That’s why volunteers like Hannah are essential to the success of The Wild Ramp.

If you would like to volunteer at The Wild Ramp or would like additional information about your organization volunteering at The Wild Ramp, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Cara Bailey, at volunteer@wildramp.org.

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Where You Fit In

June 24, 2013

The Wild Ramp Market, we have mentioned again and again, exists because of YOU. We are a community market and that is evident by the vast number of people who are excited by and appreciative of the availability of fresh local food that they pitch in to help it run.

Other than Shelly Keeney, our Market Manager, who is paid a part time wage, everyone else you see whenever you come to the Market to shop or attend any event, as well as more behind the scenes people, everyone else is a volunteer.  Seriously, it is important to understand that without the volunteers The Wild Ramp Market would not exist.

While membership in the Market is not necessary to shop there, the income from the Friends of the Market memberships helps supplement the 10% share of the product cost paid by the shoppers. A basic one-year membership is $100 with a lowered cost of $50 available with the promise to volunteer at least one hour per month.

If you have not yet fulfilled your volunteer obligation for your first year of membership you may be surprised at all the many ways The Wild Ramp Market could use your help.  Some require your help at the Market or at events; others are tasks that can be done from home and are equally important to The Wild Ramp’s mission.

STORE VOLUNTEERS: We have estimated that we need 300 volunteer hours each month to run the Market Each day is broken into two managerial shifts and each manager is additionally helped by 1-3 volunteers to work the check-out station, restock the store, answer questions, and just generally be on hand as help is needed.  Basic volunteer shifts could be as short as two hours but I can tell you working four hours goes by very quickly.  If you like chatting with people and want first dibs on the freshest foods that the Producers deliver, this opportunity is for you!hannahmarket

EVENT VOLUNTEERS:  Several times each month there are special programs held at The Wild Ramp or perhaps another location. These vary, of course, in terms of what help is needed. An event at the Market may require set up, offering samples as well as clean-up.  An event at another location may simply mean being a good team player, helping out in whatever way you can. For example, at several Community Help A Farmer Days people helped by assembling raised beds, hammering nails, and similar simple physical tasks. Task vary as do the events. Check the Events Tab on The Wild Ramp Facebook page.

Vivi

Vivian Appleton is one of our youngest volunteers.

BLOGGING:  The Wild Ramp currently has four people who prepare content for the blog once a week. We need at least three more people including several who are excited about the opportunity to visit the farms and other Producers who bring the food to the Market.  These visits are important to gather information about all the Producer grows, the farming methods used, and what their background as well as hopes for the future include. It is time to take lots of photos and help us KNOW OUR FARMERS. Most are located within an hour of Huntington and would take drive time plus about two hours for the visit.  DSC_0016

MARKETING:  Facebook and the blog are only two portions of marketing that are get the word out about The Wild Ramp to the people who live in the area.  If you have any experience or education with ways to attract business, we want to speak to you! For example, our recent event on Saturday, the Wild Ramp Summer RoundUp had a bovine guest, Breezy the Cow.  While it was pretty busy for a couple of hours, activity inside the market slowed down to below a typical Saturday, which surprised us until we figured it out. We got the word out on Facebook but had not prepared flyers to hang around town. For better marketing, we need someone who is good at designing posters or flyers and others who can go around to shops and restaurants and other places to hang them so more people become aware of our activities and, believe it or not, the Wild Ramp market. And getting more people aware means more people shop there, which in turn not only helps us have enough income to pay the rent and other overhead, but the return of money to the Producers becomes more significant.IMG_3366

RECIPES: We love our farmers for growing food for us but some of it is a bit unusual, not part of our lifelong diet we grew up with  purchased at the supermarkets. Often market volunteers are asked by shoppers how to prepare the new food and sometimes there is time to get on the internet right then and print something out. Most of the time, however, the shop is too busy with people needing to check out and farmers bringing items in, which occupies both computers at the store.  We need several people who will prepare recipes and print them on index cards. Recipes can be taken from Taming the Wild Ramp: Reachable Recipes for Real Food, your family’s cooking repertoire, or searching on the Internet for recipes that look yummy.photo(46)

PHONE CALLS: Believe it or not, not everyone is on the Internet. Yup, we are, so it is hard to believe, but there are many many people out there who can not get the information we need them to get from our Facebook page.  For example, many of our farmers get online once a day (if that) so there is limited contact with them even by email. The Market often needs to contact them about a number of issues but the manager does not have the time to make calls. She would call you with the information and the script and you would make the calls and report back.  This is one type of phone call we know we need some help making on a regular basis.

CONSTRUCTION: We need people to build projects for the Market. We need this NOW! For example, we know that in just a few weeks we will have about three times the amount of fruit and vegetables that the Producers are currently bringing –just think of all the fresh ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and more that summer gardens produce! We need to be able to display them for sale in a different way than we currently use on tables. We have the designs and we need someone who can put it all together at home. We will help get it to the store!IMG_1443

DATA ENTRY: Remember back when the market opened and we had to handle sales the old fashioned way?  When we got the computer system the check-out flow improved. Over the course of the year another change was made which required Jennine Barilla to make adjustments to each item in the database. Well, now that it is a new growing season, some other things have changed and the database needs adjusting again. This can happen faster with more people working on it.

SEWING: The wonderful shopping tote is one of the  perks of becoming a Friend of the Market. They are made from 100-pound feed sacks washed by the contributing farmer and then cut and sewn by volunteers. It is a simple sewing project and anyone with any kind of machine can help!bags

MARKET HUNT:  As much as we love being located in Heritage Station and as much as we have helped the development of Heritage Station become a destination for residents and visitors, we realize that the space we currently have, at the rental we are asked to pay, is not a comfortable fit for us. We need more eyes and brains in the search for a location where we have the room to do all we hope to do (like classes, like a demonstration kitchen and more).  We have heard that other markets like ours are located in buildings with no rent! That the owners, recognizing that a vacant structure was not doing anyone any good, had the civic pride to offer the space.  While we can dream of free rent, we are hopeful for at least a reasonable rent for the space we need. So, we need your help to search out locations and speak to any property owners you may know who have vacant buildings that could be considered.

Being part of a community feels good, especially if you can be active doing something you enjoy. So please let us know how you would like to pitch in and be a part of making The Wild Ramp one of Huntington’s ongoing signs of success!

Photo of the Day: Veggie Bouquet

June 23, 2013

Trapper Creek

I have enjoyed reading the matron of husbandry’s blog Throwback at Trapper Creek (http://matronofhusbandry.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/farmstead-album-solstice-edition/) and wanted to share her gift to us for the Solstice.

I can’t wait to meet her as she lives in Oregon within an hour of where we plan to live.  I have learned a lot reading about her farm and her life.

Strange Additions

June 22, 2013

Ever wonder why fast food tastes so different than the stuff you make at home? It’s because a lot of companies rely on tasty additions like chemical preservatives, artificial coloring and monosodium glutamate!

Integration Acres Ramp Pasta

June 21, 2013

Have you been down to The Wild Ramp lately?  More than 10 new producers have joined up in the last few weeks, so it’s an exciting time to come down and check us out.

I was browsing some of the new products last week in the market and came across Integration Acres Ramp Tofu Pasta, which sounded interesting.

ramp

First you have to realize that I’m a relative newcomer to West Virginia.  Yes, I grew up in the south, but I had never heard of this famous/ infamous plant called a “ramp”  before I moved here almost 2 years ago.  We had our logo down at The Wild Ramp for almost a year before I saw my first real-live ramp in the market this spring.

My whole family and I are big garlic fans, though, so I delved right in when we started getting ramps this spring.  I made cheddar-bacon-ramp biscuits.  I put ramps on homemade pizzas.  I sauteed them with chard from my garden.  I made ramp cheese sauce for pasta.  I made ramp pesto.  I put ramps in “dirty eggs” with sausage.  And oh, did we fall in love with that uniquely spicy taste.

And then it was gone and there were no more ramps for another year.

That’s the thing about eating locally and seasonally… when it’s in season, you have to enjoy it to the utmost, because when it’s gone, unless it can be preserved, it’s gone.  And I have to admit, that’s the part of eating locally I’m still getting used to.  We’ve all gotten spoiled by the fact we can find grapes or asparagus or tomatoes in the grocery stores any time of the year and we forget to notice that those things just don’t taste the same when they’re not from the farm a few miles away, but are shipped from Chile or Peru.

But– here, out of season, was ramp pasta, available on the shelves of the market!  And given how much the toddler had loved all the ramp experiments (garlic and onions are this boy’s best friends!), I grabbed a package to try.

The Integration Acres Ramp Pasta is tofu pasta, which means it has more protein than “normal” flour and egg pasta.  You also cook it slightly differently.  Basically, you bring the water to a boil, throw in the pasta, let it come back up to a boil, and cover and remove from the heat.  Then you just let it sit for about 10-14 minutes, very similar to how you cook couscous.  At the end of that time, you drain it and it’s ready to eat.  It has a wonderful consistency when it’s cooked- al dente and solid, without being crunchy at all.

I have to admit that the ramp taste of the pasta is very subtle.  It definitely does not have the “bounce-up-and-down-on-your-taste-buds” flair of fresh ramps.  But I realized that meant I could make a really rich alfredo sauce without worrying too much about overpowering the pasta.

Alfredo Sauce- delicious with Integration Acres Ramp Pasta

(altered from an online recipe)pasta

3-4 TBsp butter

2-3 TBsp olive oil

4-5 garlic cloves minced

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 tsp white pepper

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese

2/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese

I used Snowville Creamery whipping cream for the heavy cream, and Siberian garlic (from a local farmer’s garden last year) for the garlic.  If you’re using regular grocery store garlic, you might want to use more, since the Siberian has more “bite” than grocery store garlic.  I also added the Asiago cheese as a substitution, but I thought it added a certain depth to the sauce.

Melt butter and olive oil together in a heavy sauce pan and saute garlic.  Add cream and pepper, and simmer, stirring often.  Add Parmesan cheese and simmer 8-10 minutes while stirring often.  Add Asiago while stirring, until it fully melts, then mozzarella, and continue to stir until sauce is smooth.  Garnish with parsley.

This alfredo sauce was easy, and absolutely delicious with the Integration Acres Ramp Pasta- since it had enough of a garlic-y taste to bring out the ramp taste in the pasta.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my toddler and husband did!

Katharine Lea is an architect and local food addict who helped open The Wild Ramp just because she wanted to shop there. 

Taste Bud – Brain Connection

June 20, 2013

McDonald’s started a new ad campaign a few weeks ago that probably appeals to a lot of people : “Think with your mouth.”  What does that really mean?

All of us have favorite foods whose flavor call to us for repeated yumminess on the tongue. No doubt about it. Whether it is that Big Mac, or a Snickers bar, or a favorite flavor of Baskin Robbins ice cream, there are some foods, when you put them into your mouth, you are rewarded with a little tingle of the taste buds.

Most of the time we want more and we don’t spend any time thinking about what we just put into our body.

McDonalds wants you to disconnect the brain. They want you to eat the stuff they serve there without thinking about it. With your brain. Which is where thinking occurs. Not your mouth. Your mouth WILL lead you astray.

So why is McDonalds trying to convince us NOT to think? To just eat? Just satisfy that urge?

You know why!!!! If you think about what is served at McDonalds you can NOT eat it. Simple as that.

So, please, think with your brain and chose other things that can tingle your taste buds. Savor the flavor of Slow Food-food you cook yourself and control not only the ingredients but the spices and flavors with the quality of the food you use.    How about a few teasers thanks to the Wild Ramp Foodies Facebook page?

Pizza

Pizza

Fried Yellow Squash

Fried Yellow Squash

Grilled Zucchini

Grilled Zucchini

Black Bean Salsa

Black Bean Salsa

Chicken Lasagna Rolls

Chicken Lasagna Rolls

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Now, admit it, these look pretty yummy. All food in these recipes came from The Wild Ramp. That means we know where it was grown, how it was grown and if you buy it, you are supporting the local economy and good people!

Think with your brain….and use your heart.

Wild Ramp Summer Round Up

June 19, 2013

breezy

Join us this Saturday June 22 for Wild Ramp Summer Round Up!

The Wild Ramp is excited for summer! All spring our local farmers have already been planting, tending and harvesting some fresh delicious fruits and vegetables. We have had an amazing spring of succulent strawberries, crisp lettuce, tasty greens and so much more. Summer has more to offer from tomatoes and squash to new surprises our producers have been working all spring to bring to market!

To celebrate the success of spring and beginning of summer The Wild Ramp is hosting a Round Up featuring Breezy- the cow- from Twin Maples Farm. Ms. Breezy, a mini jersey cow, will be greeting shoppers from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm. Learn about all the important work Breezy does on the farm from farmers Annette and Barney, owners of Twin Maples Farm.

Also, The Wild Ramp will offer free samples of new products throughout the day. Also stop by to sample Herbal Sage Tea –iced!

Help us RAMP UP sales for summer! The month of May was The Wild Ramp’s largest month of sales to date, grossing over 33,000. So far The Wild Ramp has returned over 185,000 dollars to local producers since opening in July of 2012.

Let’s celebrate the beginning of a summer filled with fresh, tasty, locally grown fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, and more!