Last week I had the bright idea that people on craigslist.com may have produce for sale at reasonable prices. So I had a look around over the course of a few work shifts and, sure enough, there were more than I had imagined posting any combination of picked or u-pick seasonal veggies and fruits.
The ad that attracted me the most, like Pooh to that damn tree, was one for a blackberry farm in Lebanon, KY. Ninety minutes south of Louisville, they were letting people pick unlimited berries for $5 per person. To put that in perspective, the local farm we usually source from charges $5/pound for u-pick berries.
With visions of thorn less, heirloom berries dancing in my head I left work, picked up Fuschia and hit the open road. After making a few superfluous loops, turning around twice and getting honked at approximately 257 times (none of them deserved), we arrived in the area where the picking was to commence. There was only one slight problem: there was no sign, as promised online, to mark the farm entrance. I call and get someone on the phone for the first time. It takes all of five seconds for me to discover there are no more blackberries. None. All gone. I managed to be mostly polite to the farmer, but inside I was cussing up a storm. Honestly, what kinda tool doesn't know enough to take the ad off craigslist when they no longer have the product?
Not to be completely stymied in my search for cheap foodstuffs, I pull into the local Golden Arches where Fuschia and I can refill our sweet tea tanks. After two hours of riding around the boonies, they're basically on empty. With a quick call to Eeyore (thanks goodness for her smart phone) for navigational assistance, I point the Jeep back down the highway towards Hart County.
Just last week I had discovered, thanks to my obsessive use of Google, that Hart County is home to a produce auction. And it's open to the public. Clearly, I have to go. Fuschia and I get to Munfordville a little early, so we have plenty of time to scope out the situation. Horse and buggy road signs populate the length of the meandering highway. Being a tad slap happy at this point (no sleep since Thursday morning) I go on on and on and on about wanting to see some Amish folks. Fuschia ignores me and rightly so.
Maybe I didn't get my cheap berries that day, but by god I got my Amish. Turns out they own the produce auction. It was interesting to see such a large number of people who eschew modern conveniences working so closely with very typical folks there to buy cheap produce. For anyone with an appreciation of farm fresh food, hoarding tendencies, or just a love of community events, this was an awesome spectacle. Under a metal pole barn sat pallet after pallet of food grown in that very county. It was hard to maintain my dignity when all I wanted to do was hug each farmer as a show of thanks.
After a moment of confusion over the auction workings (hey, it was our virgin visit) we got a number and commenced to buying produce. Anyone who has ever known the thrill of gambling can understand the allure of the auction. It sucks you in. Although tempted at times, I managed to refrain from purchasing 50 dozen ears of corn or 25 watermelons. I did win though. I got 80 pounds of tomatoes and 40 pounds of new potatoes. Grand total cost? $54. That's not a typo. Put that in perspective: at a big box store tomatoes cost roughly $1.59/lb and potatoes are going for $1.29/lb. That's about 178.80, not including taxes.
As you can imagine I've been more than a little busy ever since we got back from the Amish auction. So far I've put up ketchup, whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta sauce, and salsa. On the agenda for the rest of the week are tomato paste and BBQ sauce. Wish me luck.