Market Report: Los Lunas and Schwebach Farm Stand
Quality that’s worth the drive
It’s been a tough season for the Los Lunas growers’ market. Chased out of its usual idyllic Bosque setting by fire danger, the market has had to jump around a bit. We finally found it in a parking lot on the north side of Main Street, west of the river (call Loretta Torres at 505-869-9409 for the latest). The market was small but diverse, friendly and cheap. A basket of scarlet-ripe strawberries was mine for $2. Another stand was practically giving away cucumbers. And the ringer: a pickup truck full of corn, sweet as candy, and big Yukon gold potatoes, still dirty and sold dirt cheap.
The dirt on those potatoes caught my eye. If you’re buying potatoes in bulk, it’s better that they still have some soil on them because they store better. I asked the guys where they were from: Moriarty’s Schwebach Farm.
In addition to selling food at area markets and quite a few roadside stands around Albuquerque, Schwebach also maintains a farm store in Moriarty.
I showed up at the farm and returned home with 100 pounds of potatoes, plus 10 pounds of sweet onions, a pound of chicos made from candy-sweet white corn, and some peas and broccoli for dinner. And I was tempted by sacks of dried pinto beans, bolita beans, and a rainbow of squash and other goodies that don’t always make it to the markets.
The mood at the stand had an autumn festivity to it. Many people came farther than I had in order to stock up on Schwebach’s naturally grown food. While not certified organic, they farm “sustainably and naturally,” according to their website.
In addition to selling directly to the community via growers’ markets and the stand in Moriarty, Schwebach is part of an ambitious new program called Fresh Produce ABQ, which connects local farms with area restaurants. Gina Riccobono started the business after noticing that growers tend to have trouble connecting with bigger buyers. She thought if she could consolidate the offerings of many farms, it would be possible to maintain reliable supplies of core ingredients to meet the needs of restaurants. So far she has nine growers and more than 25 restaurants actively using her service.
Schwebach Farm stand will be open through October. If you have any capacity to process and store bulk food, it’s worth a trip. My hundred pounds of Yukon gold potatoes were only $40. And like onions, carrots, beans and winter squash, potatoes practically store themselves in a cool, dark place. If you’re ambitious, there are peppers to pickle escabeche style, and cool season greens to blanch and freeze.
Schwebach Farm, Fresh Produce ABQ and the growers’ market in Los Lunas are all leaders in the local food scene because of their creativity, perseverance and quality. And the effectiveness of each is enhanced through cooperation. These are the tools New Mexico needs to feed itself tasty, healthy and affordable local food, year-round. Go get some.