Farmers notebook: Bloomington’s People’s Market helps Farm Aid get fed

This Saturday at First United Church on E. 3rd Street, the People’s Market looked pretty much like it does every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

On one side of fellowship hall, vendors had their tables set up—with cinnamon buns, arepas, tamales, jam, pulled pork, and other ready-to-eat fare.

Towards the side of the room next to the kitchen, CSA shares were lined up on a table, ready for pickup by people who had ordered them in advance.

Setting Saturday apart from an ordinary market day was 500 pounds of cheese from Twilight Dairy, which was sitting on the kitchen work tables.

The Chile Woman (aka Susan Welsand) told The B Square that the cheese had been requested by the organizers of Farm Aid. A crew was grating the blocks into shreds, because that’s how Farm Aid wanted it.

Next Saturday (Sept. 23), Farm Aid has about 24,000 people to feed at the sold-out Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville. It’s just the third time that the annual concert will be held in the Hoosier state.

The annual fundraiser features big names like: Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and Margo Price.

Farm Aid is sourcing some of the food that it needs through The People’s Market, Welsand said.  She pulled out her phone to review a list of recent orders from the Farm Aid chefs: 75 pounds of butternut squash, 200 pounds of brussel sprouts, and 40 pounds of potatoes. “They just keep sending orders in!” she said.

Orders from Farm Aid include a pound of her own chili powder.

If a pound of chili powder doesn’t sound like much, compared to a quarter ton of cheese, it’s worth remembering that chili powder normally gets measured in fractions of ounces.

Welsand reported that she busted her blender, running it constantly for a week, to grind up enough peppers to make a pound’s worth of powder, divided into packets with labels like, cayenne, jalapeno, or yellow mix.

Farm Aid also bought some Blackberry Guava Whiskey Jam from Jada Bee’s Black Witchery. Jada Bee told The B Square she had earmarked a couple of jars by attaching a note: “For Willie Nelson.”

At next week’s market, Jada Bee might have some jam left, but for sure she said she’d have lots of applesauce, made from apples she has wild foraged. Next week’s applesauce would be made from the same kind of fruit  she was holding in her hand, Jada Bee said, which she identified as a heritage variety called the Paradise Apple.

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