Salad Day

Edible flowers from City Farm in Providence, RI

Some Saturday mornings we walk to the Hope Street Farmers Market in Lippitt Park.  It’s a longish walk from our house, about a mile, but we enjoy looking at the houses along the way, noting paint colors and landscaping ideas that we might try someday on our own home.  As we near the park we are swept up in a stream of walkers, bicyclists, and families with babies in strollers and dogs on leashes.  Many of the dogs sport colorful bandannas, and most of the adults carry reusable fabric tote bags, as they head purposefully toward the market.

First we pass the artisan booths lining the sidewalk on the street side of the park; I try to resist the attractions of beachy bohemian jewelry, ocean-themed prints, blue and green pottery.  Then we reach the tantalizing display of farmer and food artisan booths.  On the market’s web site I counted 47 food vendors!  Some of the best names: Fully Rooted, Humble Pie, The Local Catch.

Cool names aside, my favorite vendor is City Farm.  Staffed by tanned, busily efficient yet pleasant young men, the City Farm booth overflows with bagged greens of both exotic and familiar varieties, an array of dewy fresh vegetables, and sometimes berries.  A fellow shopper and waiter-in-line told me that she likes to shop there because they are a great organization and she supports their mission.  I researched City Farm later and learned that they are part of the Southside Community Land Trust, a group that helps people grow food and provides the necessary access to land, resources and education.  City Farm grows tons of organic produce in a small urban space in South Providence.  (Yes, literal tons.)  They host gardening workshops for adults and field trips for school groups, and they give away food to local soup kitchens and food pantries.

Last Saturday I noticed a few paper boxes of small flower blooms among the vegetables at City Farm.  As I was paying for my greens, I asked the handsome young farmer, “What would I do with the flowers; put them in a salad?”  He flashed an irresistible grin and said, “You could use them in a salad, or you could garnish things with them, or maybe strew them over your bed.  Anything really!”

I brought the flowers home.  I took a picture of them.  I pondered the possibilities.  That night I strewed them over … our salad.  Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.  After that, make a really good salad!

You’ve Got Milk

My milk box from Munroe Dairy
My milk box from Munroe Dairy

Jeff announced our first delivery from Munroe Dairy as he carried in the crate: “You’ve got milk!”  We’d gotten milk, also yogurt, butter and eggs, spinach pies, chicken salad and English muffins.  Nicely chilled and well-wrapped, the items were delivered to our back door early Monday morning and placed inside an insulated metal milk box decorated with a stenciled cow on the front.

Home dairy delivery seems like a throwback to a bygone era when moms were likely to be at home, milk came in glass bottles, and dairy products were good for you.  But it makes just as much sense today.  No one has time to, or wants to, go to the grocery store.  Glass bottles keep the milk icy cold, and can be returned, sterilized and refilled many times.  Dairy products get a bad rap these days, but most of us aren’t going to give up cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream.

The milk delivery service from Munroe Dairy, like many other experiences I’ve had since moving to Providence RI, has a friendly vibe.  Our milkman Sean comes every Monday to deliver our order, which we can place any time up to midnight the night before.  I get nice little text messages from Sean (“Hi, this is your milkman Sean … ”) reminding me to place my order.  If I don’t feel like calling in my order or submitting it online, I can text Sean a list of what I want.  The little Customer Preferences form I received with my welcome packet includes the question, “Do you have any hobbies or interests?”  Ok, that’s a bit much – I don’t anticipate getting together with my milkman to jam on the ukulele or shop for shoes – but I appreciate the sentiment.

I have another milk story from last week.  Sophie and I went to the Avon Theater on Thayer Street to see “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”.  Like all my favorite movie theaters, the Avon sells coffee.  (They also sell cough drops!  Brilliant.)  Back to the coffee: the man taking tickets in the lobby noticed that I was pouring a cup of coffee from the self-serve thermos and asked me if I’d like milk or cream.  When I said, “Yes, milk please,” he replied, “I was afraid of that. We just ran out of milk!”  He called up to the manager, who came down the stairs from his office and said, “Go ahead into the theater and find a seat. I’ll be back in five minutes with some milk.”  The manager walked down the block to a convenience store and returned with milk and cream, then headed into the theater to find me.

Actually, I’m not that fond of milk.  I’ll pour a little over my cereal, and add a bit to my coffee, but otherwise I never touch the stuff.  It’s so bland, so white, so … milky!  But how nice it is to see people going out of their way to get it for me, as if being attentive, kind and considerate were just part of a day’s work.  Got milk?  I sure do, and it’s never tasted so good.