Our Food Community: Liz McNerney, Porter Square Site Host

Liz M

Liz McNerney with her daughters Zoe (15) and Rayne (12)

My involvement with Farmers To You started as a favor.  In several ways I did not really know what I was signing up for – but sure, I could stand outside for an hour each week and host a site – whatever that meant — I was in and I would learn as I went. Whatever it took would be worth it because I knew it would compel our family to be part of this simple, logical (and maybe disruptive) notion that regional food sheds needed to be rebuilt.

Yep – learning — a lot! About food systems, farming, New England food history, transportation, delivery systems, nutrition, food quality, taste, weather, cooking, preserving, and really enjoying food. Our families’ lives have been enriched by the people – coming down from VT and hosting us when we visit, and all the partner families making the extra effort every week to put what is best on their tables – and so wonderfully, deliciously sustained by the food — really, really good food.


(a note from Eva) … I remember driving the Farmers To You truck to the “new” Porter Square site some Thursday afternoon in December 2010, and meeting the site host for the first time. As I navigated the big truck down a congested street, Liz appeared on the sidewalk, calmly gesturing for me to pull into her tiny driveway. With unwavering confidence, she hand signaled me in without a hitch.

Liz welcomed me with a big smile, an offer to use her bathroom or have a cup of tea, and nothing has changed since that chilly evening almost five years ago. Two words comes to mind: gracious and undaunted.

Liz and her family have hosted overnight Farmers To You guests (partner farmers and staff), continue to manage late pickup with half a dozen coolers on the porch, and even though the Porter site grew so big it shifted from their home to Mass Ave, Liz still manages the site as if she were welcoming people to her home.

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You might say we’ve lost our minds, trying to do something that’s never been done before – imagining a new food system into existence.

We have lost our minds, and it feels great. We’re taking risks, delving into new ways of thinking (and doing) on our little corner of the planet.

Five years ago, a small group of us made this up, and with your partnership, we’ve been tweaking the recipe ever since.

We asked ourselves …Should it be a weekly cycle? Should we pick up product at the farms?  Should we have an ordering deadline?   (recall the early days when the deadline was Monday night?)

Then we heard from you,  “Please make the order repeat because we keep forgetting to order by the deadline!” And we made that happen.

It’s been a co-creative process from the start.


Three years ago, Gift To Give was born out of this imaginative chaos.

You said,  “I’d love for my extended family and friends to try this”   So we initiated Gift To Give, an elegant and easy way to help with that.


New ways of thinking, uncharted territory, slow organic growth,

word of mouth, inceptive energy, bottom up, grassroots,

solutions that benefit everyone and everything …

the cows, the pigs and chickens ~ farming families and their precious soils ~

the songbirds, butterflies, our children ~the truck and bike drivers, mechanics,

the cleaning crew … them, us, you.

Thank you for imagining.

~ Eva



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This Week’s Bounty: Color and Taste, Rainbow of Apples and Veggies, Fresh Pork and Beef

Last night's sunset from the Farmers To You Hub

Last night’s sunset from the Farmers To You Hub

The colors of the landscape are changing and so are the flavors of our food – they’re connected. This seasons colors are primary and sharp – Red, Blue and Yellow – and the flavors of fall foods are clean and crisp and their sweetness is almost always accompanied by a bit of tartness or savoriness that bring them into sharp focus. The temperature swings wring out the last goodness from the soil, and the ripening process of the fruits has been described in Biodynamic Agriculture as a compressive and fiery process that captures the chaos of the spring and summer growth all into the tiny seed.

As you are tasting these delicious foods of the fall harvest – see if you can’t taste the colors and crispness of the season in each bite.

The harvest continues and we have lots of new and welcome additions.

We have Bagels again – but I am afraid they are only available on Wednesdays at this point. If all goes well, we hope to include Thursdays in the future. Whizzo Bagels are made by Anne Labrusciano. She bakes these delicious bagels in small batches in Marshfield, VT. They are the perfect balance of chew, with a tender crumb and are subtly sweet and salty. They come in a pack of 4 bagels – 2 seeded with salt and 2 plain.

We now have Lard! We have always carried the pork fat from Snug Valley Farm that you could render yourselves, but there were only a few of you intrepid enough to give it a try.

Lard was vilified along with other animal fats, but now as we understand the health benefits of clean, and minimally processed animal fats in our diet – Lard is making a comeback. Use it for frying, and baking – better than butter!! It comes in 8 oz tubs priced at $4.90 and is odorless, creamy white, and a pleasure to cook with.

We are getting fresh shipments of Beef Steaks and Pork Cuts this week. They are now turned on and are limited stock so don’t delay.

Our fruit selections this week are from Champlain Orchards – and they have fresh harvested Macintosh, Gingergold, Cortlands, and Honeycrisp. They also will have their delicious Asian Pears and Apple Pies, Cider and Applesauce. We had one of their pies for dessert at our staff dinner the other night. Wow!

Scott Farm has two new Heirloom Varieties of apples. Here is what Zeke has to say about them:

Orleans Reinette – “Orleans is one of my favorite apples for eating out of hand, crisp, juicy, tart, has a citrus flavor with maybe a little nuttiness in there. It is also very good as a baking apple or in tarts. Edward Bunyard, the English food writer wrote that this was, despite it being French, his favorite apple and especially enjoyed eating them with a glass of port. A very handsome apple.”

Sheep’s Nose – or Black Gilliflower is not everyone’s favorite apple, for fresh eating some love it and some are more than indifferent. As a baked apple, it is a transcendent taste experience. The skin and flesh are almost buttery, the flavor somewhat like caramel with maybe a hint of nutmeg or cloves. Skip coring them and filling with sweeteners, just put them in the oven as is.”

Zeke (Ezekial Goodband) and another local friend and apple expert were both interviewed this week on Vermont Edition on VPR – and he talks about both Sheep’s Nose and Orleans Reinette! Terry Bradshaw is now a professor of Pomology at UVM – a true apple doctor – and lives in our home town of Calais, VT. We usually get together with him, press cider and tell apple tales.

It is coming on soup season again and Joe Buley of Screamin’ Ridge Farm has moved into his nice new facility and is cooking up a storm.

His two soup selections are Broccoli Cheddar and Carrot Ginger. He also has been perfecting his bone and soup broths – Chicken, Beef and Vegetable. These are such a great pantry staple for us as they take so much of the work out of making a fantastic soup.

The vegetables are flooding in as all our partner farmers clear their fields of their bounty before the first hard frost – coming soon!

We have some new items:

Daikon Radishes from Dog River Farm

Green and Red Cabbage from Jericho Settlers Farm

Celeriac from Foote Brook Farm – a must have for soup and stew fixins.

Red Kabocha Squash from River Berry Farm

Cathy at Unity Farm is harvesting her splendid Salad Mix.

Next week we will be introducing an exciting new and easy way to place your weekly order – Farmers To You Weekly Share. These are preselected baskets – by our own crew member Kuenzi Wiswall – tailored to Omnivore, Vegetarian and Paleo diet preferences. We select items that combine well and also offer great value, so if you are watching your food budget, these will be a great choice.

Thank you for your enduring and committed partnership.




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Tips, Tricks and Techniques: Breaking Down A Whole Chicken

How to break down a chicken

Buying a whole chicken is the best way to get the most meal for your money. Cuts for grilling and sauteeing, plus trim for stock means several meals from one bird. America’s Test Kitchen has a great quick video tutorial below.


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This Week’s Bounty: Seasons Transition

It is transition time for many of our vegetable farms as they quickly bring in their crops before the first hard frost hits. It is also a time when a number of crops naturally come to an end.

Every once in awhile – and more so at this transition time between seasons – we may send an item from one of our partner farms that was perfectly beautiful when we pack it in your order that just loses something along the way. Please do let us know. We are all in this for the long haul – and our relationship with you and yours with us and our partner farmers is far more important than anything else we do. One of your responsibilities in this partnership is to let us know if anything is not as you expected. Your partner farmers really do want to know.

Together we can build a safe, just, and regenerative regional food system.

This week Kimball Brook Dairy is back in production with their luscious milk.

More wonderful fruit from our two orchards.

Champlain Orchards has Macintosh apples, Cortlands (one of the best pie apples), Honeycrisp, and Gingergold apples.

Zeke at Scott Orchards has Cox’s Orange Pippin apples for a second week, and also Ananas Reinette – Here is Zeke’s description:

“ I was thinking Ananas Reinette might be a good apple for next week, it’s on the small side- think jumbo egg size. it has a bright yellow cheek over a light green skin, like all Reinettes, it has a fine grained flesh, crisp, quite sweet and tart at the same time. The flavor reminds me of pineapple. It’s very good for eating out of hand but also bakes well; in Europe it’s often used as a juice apple. It’s originally from Netherlands, from around 1820.”

This will be the last week for Zeke’s Sweet Italian Plums – and availability is limited.

Jason at Red’s Best informed me that he will only have The Fresh White Fish Share and Flounder this week due the to high winds. When this happens fish and shellfish supply drops and prices soar.

We hope to have more in a week or so.

David and Michele have wonderful pasta flavors for us this week:

Ruby Beet Tagliatelle
Blonde Rigatoni

Arugula Sheep’s Feta & Peppadew
Traditional Spinach

Gluten Free Pasta
Spicy Sriracha Spaghetti
Natural Casarecci

Vegetable selection continues to be huge.

Foote Brook Farms will be harvesting Bunched Arugula and Watermelon Radishes as well as his Green Beans, Collard Greens, and Shallots.

Tony will also be sending us his freshly dug Gold and Red Potatoes. Last weeks were from another farm and not quite up to our standards for you.

David at River Berry Farm is harvesting the last of his Sweet Corn this week, and will also have those beautiful San Marzano Plum Tomatoes again this week. We will also get Sweet Peppers from him this week.

We hope to see many of you at the Potluck Parties in Cambridge and Beverly this weekend. What a treat to sample all you do with this wonderful food!



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