Last indoor farmers market to emphasize wild edible plants


BENNINGTON — For the last indoor session at the Bennington Farmers Market, vendors will embrace April with the theme of "Awakening: All the Beginnings of Spring" on April 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Learn about gardening, foraging and respecting wildlife and nature in order to build a relationship with the natural world, at the First Baptist Church at 601 Main St.

"We're aware of nature's cycles, so I guess spring is a time to celebrate that awareness. We know the warmth is coming and before we know it it'll all be green," Bennington Farmers Market board member and special events committee chair Audrey Pietrucha said. "There's such a satisfaction for it, when you're growing your own food or even knowing the people who grow your food."

For children, bird nest making with their own bird fluff bags will be offered in addition to seedling kits and growing vegetable games and coloring sheets, according to a press release from the market's board.

Board member Alan Baker who runs a farm in Shaftsbury has gathered wild plants to present at the market. These include leeks, walking onion, stinging nettles, catnip, dandelions, garlic mustard and wild onions. All are edible either as a chive, herb for tea, spinach-like substance, or used to make pesto. Baker will compile little books about each wild plant and how to utilize them to give out at the market.

"I've potted up things I found around and I'll have them there and they grew a little faster inside than they would have outside," Baker said. "Some things people would think they could never eat."

There are some alternative ways to start a garden inside, Pietrucha explained, by using egg cartons, used milk cartons, yogurt cups, toilet paper rolls, and newspaper. Most of these are biodegradeable and will be elaborated on more on Saturday.

Pietrucha said having a farmers market means, "Having a community that can rely on each other to feed each other, physically and nutritionally and spiritually ... Having a group of people who appreciate fresh and locally grown food and enjoying it together."

Soil pH level tests will be conducted at the market as well. A beginner gardener may not think about testing the soil before planting, but Pietrucha said this is necessary to have optimum conditions for the seeds. Soil pH levels depend on the nutrients involved. Some plants are more acidic than others and the acid and alkaline levels need to be balanced.

"If you bought potting soil with nutrients in it, you're fine, but if you dug it out of your garden and you have no idea what it is, then test it," Baker said. "When you get potting soil, it'll tell you what's in it, and it's good for starting. Some have virtually nothing in them. If you buy good potting soil and start inside you probably don't have to test it."

Baker said people shouldn't be too concerned about Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) contaminated soil when growing food, but that can be tested as well.

On May 7, the first outdoor market will be set up on the River Walk on Walloomsac Park on Depot Street.

—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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