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Melissa Pasanen

Melissa Pasanen

Contact Melissa Pasanen at and follow her on Twitter at

Go to the Farmers Market When it’s Raining

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

Brad Koehler of Windfall Orchard in Cornwall sells wild mushrooms, vegetables, apples and other fruit as well as the orchard's own ice cider at the Middlebury farmers market. Photo by Melissa Pasanen.

Last Saturday was beautiful and the farmers market was calling my name. But, I did not go for various reasons, including the fact that my CSA share has started and I have a freezer stuffed with half a pig’s worth of cuts (that I really need to make a dent in).

I also opted out because I knew the market didn’t need me. On that picture-perfect sunny day, which also fell on the closing weekend of the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, there would be plenty of customers at the robust market that now weaves through and around City Park.

The previous weekend, however, I did brave intermittent pouring rain to go to the market knowing that it’s always slow in inclement weather; those are the days that the farmers and other food producers really need customers so they don’t take home half of what they harvested for market.

I love the market in the rain. It’s calmer and the vendors have time to chat about how the season is going, as well as what new projects they’re working on.

And, as my mother always said, “People don’t melt.”

Every year I also vow to visit a few more of the 85-plus farmers markets around the state, a really fun and delicious way to see what’s growing and cooking in corners I don’t frequent. Last year alone, I discovered a wonderful spicy kimchi at the Craftsbury market, locally grown table grapes and goat meat in Middlebury, and Belizean ducunu (cornmeal batter with a sweet corn filling steamed in a corn husk) in Essex.

Even better, more than 40 markets now accept 3SquaresVT (formerly known as food stamps), making home-grown and home-cooked market offerings more accessible to more Vermonters across the state.

For a full list of farmers markets in Vermont go to:

Digging In | With time running out, 
old and new intertwine 
to save Barber Farm

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

e8f46f66d375a6b8c79ba0ec095c3056The Barber Farm has stood in the town of Jericho longer than the United States has been a country — its soil was first turned in 1774 — but were it not for a chance meeting about six years ago at a film festival, the farm might have vanished into memory.

The connection happened in Burlington at the Vermont International Film Festival, a rights-and-causes event that had booked a low-budget documentary called “The Barber Farm” (locals often use “the” when describing the place). The movie had been made by Gretchen Siegchrist, 33, then a film student whose family had deep ties to the land going back to the 1940s. Part homage, part cry for help, Siegchrist’s film outlined the rich history of the farm as well as its current dilemma: It was an exceptional piece of Vermont farmland, but for almost two decades it had lain fallow. With no one willing to farm it commercially, time was running out.

In the festival audience, as it happened, was

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