Hey Boston! Time To Shop Farmers Markets!

Green bush with small white flowers, like flowers you can buy fresh at farmers markets.

Hope you’re enjoying the start to the Memorial Day weekend! Since this is the unofficial start to summer, it’s time to start thinking about summery things.

For those of us in New England, we don’t have year-round outdoor markets like those of you in different parts of the country. For us, it’s a real treat when we can start shopping outdoors for fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers and other locally grown and made items.

Some area farmers markets have already opened. Copley Square’s Farmers Market, which is closest to where I’m working now, opened on May 12th and will be open until November 21st.

Take a look at the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets website to find a farmers market near you and for the opening date. It doesn’t seem to be fully updated yet, but keep checking back.

Nift: You Got Me Miffed

Colorful circles in shades of red, green, orange and yellow, on a Nift Neighborhood gift card.

Have you heard of Nift? I hadn’t until this past fall when I received a Nift card as a gift.

When I went to the website to redeem my gift, I was very excited. According to the face of the card (see picture above) I would have $50.00 or more to spend. The “or more” should have put me on notice that something might be a bit off.

Anyway, Nift seems more business focused than consumer friendly. It’s a way of introducing local businesses to consumers. Which is actually a great idea.

But most of the suggested businesses weren’t that easy for me to get to in my normal day to day routine and I wasn’t that interested in the merchandise of many of them. However, there was one suggestion for a place that I had planned on going to anywayChill On Park. A new ice cream shop in Dorchester.

Within days of activating my card, I planned to meet a friend there. I arrived first, during their normal Saturday business hours and they were closed for some reason. Maybe Thanksgiving? I don’t know.

But my friend and I had to find another place to go, so we went to Dot2Dot Cafe, which was very close by and a place we had been to before and really enjoyed. I had planned to blog it, but never got around to it.

Anyway, back to my being miffed by Nift. You should note that Nift expires very quickly. I activated it around November 17, 2016 and the expiration date was December 22, 2016. It was only good for a little over a month. That seemed odd to me. And rather unfair.

It was my understanding that in Massachusetts, gift cards are good for at least seven years. This is true, according to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. I emailed Nift’s customer service about this and received the following response.

Thank you for reaching out! We are well versed in gift card law. If the gift expires any funds if paid are returned. If you have any questions about this, please refer to our Terms of Service.

I just extended the expiration date of your Nift to March 1st, 2017, so you can now use it at Chill On Park, in Dorchester. You can also find again your gift certificate here. After having used your gift, click on the “Redeem in Store” button. This lets Nift know that you’ve used your gift. We will then send you a new gift code, via email, including your residual value.

Please let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy your gift!

Based on my understanding of their TOS, the business that purchased the Nift card is the customer, not me, and any money left on the card after the expiration goes back to the purchaser.

I didn’t get a chance to use Nift by March 1st either, so I sent another email and received another extension until March 30th.

You can probably see where this is going. I didn’t get a chance to go by March 30th either. When I sent another email, I was told that there were no more extensions.

Then I received an email stating that my “gift” had expired and would I please give some feedback. I told them that I didn’t have a chance to use it.

It seems to me that if you really want people to use a gift card, they should have more time to use it. It’s probably why Massachusetts state law allows at least seven years for gift certificates to be redeemed. Four months is hardly enough time. Especially when that time is the winter. Oh well.

For anyone considering buying Nift for their customers, buyer beware.

Farm Share Fair in Somerville – Wednesday, March 29th

Fresh, raw carrots in shades of orange of purple with the words Farm Share Fair.

If you’re looking forward to eating fresh and local this season, then you might be interested in joining a CSA.

There are many farms to choose from with different deadlines for payment. It can be confusing figuring it all out in time.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were one place that you could go where you could find out about all the farms in the Boston area offering a farm share program? Well, there is!

Farm Share Fair is happening this Wednesday, March 29th, from 5:30pm – 8:30pm, at The Armory in Somerville.

Enjoy veggies, fruit, meat, poultry, fish, honey, cheese, herbs, & flowers produced in New England.

The Farm Share Fair is Boston’s annual direct-to-consumer information event for food producers across the region.

Compare all the great Farm Share (CSA) programs available in the Boston area. Meet our fabulous local producers with distribution spots near you. We’ll have some great local food vendors and retailers too.

So if you want to support local farmers and eat fresh, then head over to Farm Share Fair!

+ + +
Image: 2017 Farm Share Fair

It’s Massachusetts Farmers Market Week!

Picture of the farm and picture of sunflowers in container.

It’s time to support our local farmers. Governor Charlie Baker proclaimed that this coming week, August 7 -13 is Farmers Market Week.

If you’re not here in the Bay State, it’s a national effort too! According to the USDA, there are over 8500 farmers markets across the country.

Stacked Zucchinis on the left and persimmons on the right.

Here in Massachusetts, according to the press release, we have “approximately 248 summer and fall farmers’ markets and 40 winter farmers’ markets ….” There is an interactive map listing all the farmers market in the state, so you can find one near you.

Going to work I take the Red Line to South Station, so I pass the Dewey Square Farmers Market every Tuesday and Thursday. It couldn’t be any easier, so I have been buying fresh produce and flowers there on a regular basis. Also, on occasion, I stop by Hanson Farm in Bridgewater.

Maybe this week, I’ll buy something a bit different. What about you?



{You Pick Six} An Interview with News Reporter: Susan Tran

News Reporter Susan TranMost of us in the Boston area have probably watched Susan Tran reporting with 7News on WHDH. Now she reports news at NBC10Boston.

She also was the emcee for All Aboard The Arc! this past May and helped spread the word about disability acceptance and inclusion.

But did you know that she’s a serious foodie too? If you follow her on Twitter and Instagram, in addition to the news, you’ll often catch a glimpse of what she’s eating.

Just recently, she was shopping at Boston Public Market for some fresh fish and pastrami. Not only did she share pictures of the food, but she ran into our very own Senator Warren and got a selfie! How cool is that?

So now, let’s turn the tables for the sixth part of the interview series, You Pick Six.

* * *

What is a favorite snack?
I love Cape Cod Chips with Heluva Good dip. I would eat an entire bag of chips if you let me so I only have it on vacation.

What brings you peace every day?
When my husband brings me my first cup of coffee and I get to say good morning to my pup Margaret. Those two moments remind me of what’s good in my life.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by all the good in the world. For every awful person I encounter in the world through work or life there are always dozens more who are kind, thoughtful and generous.

What is a favorite cookbook?
Cook’s Illustrated – Best Recipes.

How did food become an important part of your life?
Food always meant family and friends to me. My parents worked 7 days a week but we always had dinner together. My husband is Italian-Irish-German, food is how he shows his affection. Some of my fondest memories with family and friends have happened around a dinner table.

Tell me about your book.
I wrote a long format story while I was in between jobs to occupy myself. It was good at the time. I tried to get it published but I didn’t have any takers. When I read it now, 6 years later, I think it’s crap and I’m glad nothing ever came of it. Some day I’ll look upon it as a failure I will glean lessons from.

* * *

Thank you so much for participating Susan!

+ + +
Photo credit: Trung Dang