Yes. Christmas. Sobering, isn’t it? Only three months away. To be honest, I’m not much for the frenzy and overspending of the current holiday culture. So I choose to go green and local for the modest number of gifts I buy. For the past several years, I’ve purchased most of these treasures at the farmer’s market, where I know the artists and craftspeople personally and where I make sure they get 100 percent of my money.
If you want to avoid malls, nerve-grating holiday tunes piped incessantly through stereo speakers and the feeling that you are buying just one more factory-made trinket with “made in China” stamped on its underside, check out your local farmer’s market and come back to the true meaning of Christmas—gifts made and given from one heart to another.
My friend Debbie Ward, the owner and driving force behind Silver Tablet Marketing (and very talented photographer who has shared her work here), spent last Saturday with me checking out gift ideas that will really say Christmas. Here are a few ideas we’d like to share:
Let’s begin with the obvious—a market T-shirt! What better way to show hometown pride and market support than giving one of these beauties? Proceeds benefit the market, of course. See if this is an option at your market.
Lisa Brinker of Wild Creek Gardens
In addition to the glorious array of fresh and dried flowers Lisa Brinker grows and sells at the market each week, she makes one-of-a-kind, sun-printed silk and bamboo scarves, totes and little pouches. According to Lisa, sun printing or heliographic painting is done with a special type of acrylic paint and very special process. Lisa explains: “First I gather my plants and press them a few hours until they are flat. I also create cardstock shapes to enhance my designs. I paint the fabric after it is cut out or, in the case of scarves, after they are ironed to freezer paper for stability. I take them outside on a sunny, calm day and lay the pressed plants and shapes on the fabric. The sun does the printing!”
Lisa’s scarves and bags are modestly priced, lovely to behold, soft to touch and oh-so shippable to that long-distance relative or friend for whom you want to send a special holiday hello. They won’t get another gift like this one, and Lisa will give you a little card that explains her process. Your gift recipient is sure to realize how special this gift truly is.
John Boss Pottery
John Boss is a local potter, whose creations defy description. Both highly functional and breathtakingly beautiful, his pottery pieces are touched by John’s own signature style. Your gift will be unmistakably John Boss, allowing you to give not only a practical piece of pottery that someone will use and cherish for years but also a distinctive work of art. His bowls and mugs have been the go-to wedding gift in our family for a long time. And, if you need to ship this delicate pottery, John is right there to help you pack it so that it arrives pristine. To view more of John’s work, visit his Pinterest page.
Iris Hill Farm and Apiary and Lane’s End Bees
Besides fresh eggs and produce, Iris Hill Farm and Apiary, located in Glen Carbon, Illinois, offers a wide assortment of honey and distinctive homemade fruit preserves. Exotic flavors include Lavender & Lemon Jelly and Pineapple & Mango Preserves with dried chilies. They share table space with Lane’s End Bees, where you can find handmade soaps, beautifully crafted and as fragrant as a summer meadow.
What a wonderful combination for gift giving—flowers, honey and fruits for the table and the bath! Just throw in a set of organic cotton napkins and a natural luffa. You’ve hit the mark on original and personal and… green.
Think inside the (CSA) box!
Perhaps the very best, not to mention the most original, keeps-on-giving, gift you can give is a membership to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. If you know someone who lives near you who’s been trying to eat healthier, to use a wider variety of vegetables, access locally unprocessed food items and switch to grass-fed meats and organic, free-range eggs, a CSA subscription may be the perfect gift.
In my neck of the woods, there are two that come immediately to mind—my own CSA farmer, Bruce Haas at Daydream Farms in Greenville, Illinois and Biver Farms, run by Keith Biver, located just outside town here in Edwardsville. Make a quick stop by their tables and ask how their respective CSA’s work. Not coming to my market? Check out LocalHarvest.org to find a CSA near you.
Then, be extra helpful and include a carefully selected cookbook or magazine subscription to help the recipient get started on a healthier way of life. I just read about a new book called Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food, in which author Megan Kimble joins a CSA in order to improve her wellness and vows to eat unprocessed foods for at least one year. I got word of this new book in Delicious Living Magazine, a free publication at my local health food store, Green Earth Grocer. Delicious Living also has an awesome website and great social media connections that will keep you up-to-date on organic choices, great recipes and green living. But they keep their paper copies free and available in small, independently owned health food stores because they believe in those pioneers of the green world, and they want you to feel the same by shopping at yours.
Of course, you can always send them here to Green Gal of the Midwest for cooking ideas. Just a thought.
Are you worn out from all that shopping? My farmer’s market has you covered. Stop by Tamarango Bakery, a market booth run by my friend Susan. Hands down, Susan’s New York crumb cake, blueberry muffins, apricot-almond short bread and best-ever, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are the most delicious pastries I’ve ever tasted. Then there’s my husband’s personal favorite: chocolate Guinness cake—yeah, real Guinness. The perfect pick-me-up to what will probably be the most relaxing, fun holiday shopping trip you’ve ever had.
And really, I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ll be including more ideas next week. What gifts have you discovered at your farmer’s market? Let’s hear your ideas for a stress-free holiday shopping spree.
Thank you for the wonderful endorsement and for doing this blog. It’s already been a great source of information and I thought I knew it all! Don’t forget that I do custom orders for no extra cost and like “Wildcreek Gardens” on facebook.
It’s my pleasure to sing your praises. You have delighted so many of my friends when they’ve received a scarf or bag for a gift. We are on a roll with this blog, and my goal is to raise awareness for great artists like you and conscientious food producers in our community. It’s a group effort… being the change we wish to see in the world. Will definitely check out your Facebook page at Wildcreek Gardens.
Major thanks for the article.Thanks Again. Really Cool.
I can’t say enough good things about the Land of Goshen Community Market. It is one of biggest blessings.
Thanks for all the wonderful compliments about my baking. What a pleasure to see you all those early mornings for years at the Goshen Market. Can’t believe how time is marked by things like a seasonal market. All those yummy conversations about your latest food creations…you are truly in your element when surrounded by fresh, seasonal ingredients. You are always, always trying something new or tweaking an old favorite recipe. Hmmm..perhaps I should try adding a little ghost pepper to the Guinness Cake. What do you think? Might not be so scary, afterall..ancient Mayan flavors….chili and chocolate.
Thanks again for the mention and for being your wonderful self.
Hey, Susan. It’s wonderful to “hear” your voice on this site! I miss everyone at the market and, of course, your incredible gluten-free honey cornmeal cakes. What will I do now on Saturday mornings for breakfast?? Hope to see you at Green Earth Grocery during the winter. And… sure a ghost pepper in the Guinness Cake sounds great. You know me–always be brave in the kitchen.