Meet the Folks at the Chatham Farmers’ MarketBy Marlissa Briggett | Photography by David Colantuono
After a successful inaugural season, the Farmers’ Market is back. Everything you need to enhance any meal of the day is there: produce (of course) but also homemade granola, fish and shellfish, breads, and lovingly prepared food to heat up at home. Meander with and among your neighbors—they’re the ones shopping and the ones selling fresh, local food that will make your summer eating infinitely more memorable.
Deb Greiner and Tina Labossiere
Cape Cod Cranberry Harvest, Harwich
Walk into Deb Greiner’s home kitchen on any given weekday, and she and Tina Labossiere is probably making jam. The taste and the charm in each jar is derived from the personal handling each receives. Even as their business has grown, they’ve kept it personal. Recently, someone asked Greiner for her card in a .pdf file so that he could reprint it. Greiner, who tracks all her business in an old-fashioned black and white marble notebook, responded, “PD what?” Undeterred, the person asked her to have her advertising people send it along. “My advertising people?” she responded, incredulously. “You think I have advertising people? Uh-uh. Tina and I do everything ourselves. That’s why some of the labels are askew. We’ve put them on the jars after a few glasses of wine!”
Yes, they’re having fun, but they’re also producing award-winning jam with cranberries grown and harvested within walking distance of Deb’s Harwich home. But if you point that out, she’s careful to be clear that she would never walk over to get the cranberries. She’ll drive, thank you. And when you take a look around her kitchen—crowded with jam jars cooling, a carton of red peppers, a dishwasher running jam jars, a pot on the stove cooking jam, kids’ drawings and schedules crowding the refrigerators and cabinets—you get the picture. Greiner and Labossiere really don’t have time for a leisurely walk over to the cranberry farm.
A fixture at many local shows and festivals, they are regulars at the Chatham Farmers’ Market. Deb’s favorite is the white pepper cranberry garlic jam. Tina’s favorite is also the crowd favorite: cranberry pepper jam.
Scott and Linda Kelley
George’s Fish Market, Harwich
www.georgesfishmarket.com and www.capecodcsf.com
Chatham residents Scott and Linda Kelley are all about fish. Scott has been in the fish business for over thirty years. George’s Fish Market in Harwich has been in Linda’s family for decades. They are both committed to celebrating and promoting local Cape Cod fishermen.
Easier said than done. One of the great ironies of living on the Cape is that it is often hard to buy locally caught fish. It is simply easier for fishermen to send their fish directly to the auction in Boston than to figure out how to get it to the local customer. Oddly, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself eating locally caught fish, it’s possible that it may already have traveled to Boston and back. Linda Kelley is trying to change that by connecting the fishermen and the Cape consumer more closely. Kelley started the first CSF (or community supported fishery) where members sign up and pay for weekly deliveries of local catches.
Each week at the Chatham Farmers’ Market, they bring a few select types of fish and shellfish to the market. With the local catch, they bring you the pedigree of the fish: where it was caught, the name of the boat, the fishermen who brought it in. They also bring you the small town feeling that comes from exchanging cooking tips and recipes (everyone’s favorite recipe: pan-seared scallops with a buerre-blanc sauce).
Linda says she gets feedback wherever she goes. “I can’t tell you how many times I’m at the supermarket and people come up to tell me how much they enjoyed their scallops. ‘They were unbelievable. We’re having guests. Can we buy some more?’ People really look forward to Tuesdays,” she says. Linda finds herself learning from her customers as well. Some of them give her recipes, some of which are unexpected: “Squid lasagna, if you can believe that. But it was spectacular!”
Thyme after Thyme, Chatham
(located on Queen Anne Road, next to the Chatham Village Market)
Every time you get an assortment of characters together, you need a good ringmaster. For the Chatham Farmers’ Market, that person is Chatham resident Kathy Sanders. Over twenty five years ago, Sanders opened her first herb shop in Brewster. She left the Cape for many years (although returned every summer) “to raise lavender and my children in Colorado.” With her daughters grown, she moved back to the Cape and her herb business, Thyme after Thyme. With plenty of farmers’ market experience in Colorado, she quickly became a fixture at multiple Cape Cod farmers’ markets.
Along with other friends and neighbors, she started thinking, “why not in Chatham?” With her connections to other markets, she was able to put together a top-notch roster of farmers and vendors. She says, “it turned out to be one of the top markets on the Cape. We quickly knew we had grown too big for our britches—or overalls. So we are presently looking for a new location.” You can be sure that Sanders will herald the word about the new location but if you don’t hear it from her, check out the facebook page she set up. The other Chatham vendors will tell you that it is she who made the Chatham Farmer’s Market a uniquely special farmers’ market. You might want to go just to thank her.
The Art of the Meal Catering, Chatham
Private chef on the yacht circuit? Check. A stint at a ranch out in Montana? Check. Captain’s license? Check. But sometimes a girl’s gotta come home.
Dianne Collatos returned to the Cape in 2000 to take care of her ailing mother. While doing so, she resurrected her mother’s best Greek recipes . “When my mother was in hospice, we went through recipes,” Collatos says. “When I was cleaning out her house, I came across all her recipes and hundreds of cookbooks. This is a family legacy.” And thus her Chatham-based catering business was borne.
At the Chatham Farmer’s Market, she prepares trays of spanakopita, moussaka, tzatziki and kalamata bread. She even makes her own Greek yogurt that involves a heck of a lot of pampering and Old World skills, that are “all passed down.” For example, in making the yogurt, she learned you have to let the milk boil and then cool enough “so that you can leave your finger in it for eight seconds.” A ceramic or glass ring passed down from her mother helps to ensure the milk doesn’t boil over.
“When I don’t use the ring,” she says, “the yogurt doesn’t work. It’s all about following your family’s traditions and recipes, it’s like keeping our ancestors alive.” In the next step, she wraps the pots with angora and mohair blankets. “If I use beach towels or some other blanket, it doesn’t taste the same. You have to pay attention. You have to take your time.” This year she will be introducing homemade feta cheese to her weekly offerings.
Eldridge Farms, Brewster
Jeff Eldridge seems a little surprised to find himself a farmer. Eldridge bought the Brewster (and Harwich) property in 1996 and has been learning to be a farmer ever since. Try his heirloom lettuce and you know he’s succeeding.
The farm is a team effort. Because it takes a village to raise your salad greens. At the market, you’ll meet Caren Marinelli who helps out with the garden and the perennials. . Back at the farm, Steve Coleman oversees the garden. A former landscaping client of Jeff’s, Coleman joined the farm team when he retired. Before his work at Eldridge Farm, Coleman says the only thing he ever raised were patio tomatoes on his rooftop deck in Boston. Coleman is joined in the field by retired dentist David Serluco.
Eldridge will be the first to admit that it’s a process. It’s fascinating to watch his progress on this farming dream. Previously, he owned a landscaping business. He still owns the landscaping business but now he also owns crops, chickens, geese, and turkeys. On a crisp day last fall, he looked over the turkeys and, musing on their fate, he seemed pretty chagrined that Thanksgiving was going to arrive soon. Sometimes, farming isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.