Growing up my favorite thing about the month of May was that the end of school was around the corner and I’d be “free” for the summer! My current day job is working for Iowa State, so while I still look forward to the end of school, I have some other favorite things about the month.
When May rolls around the weather is finally nice enough for walks in the park or a weekend picnic. I’m always surprised by how quickly we go from full-on darkness in the morning to the sun scratching at the horizon at 5:15 a.m. Flowers start to bloom, pollen is in the air, and my lawn is soon to be out-of-control. It’s also the time to begin my annual “countdown to sweet corn” and calculate whether I have enough in my freezer to get me through until mid-July.
My favorite part of May as I’ve aged, though, is the farmers’ market. Every Saturday starting in May there’s an explosion of farmers’ markets across Iowa that signals the start of a new growing season. According to the Iowa Department of Agriculture, there are over 200 farmers’ markets in Iowa that provide direct marketing outlets for fresh locally grown produce, baked goods, and a variety of products from including eggs, meat, cheese, and fresh flowers. I enjoy going to the market in Ames on a Saturday and reconnect with vendors I haven’t seen since the winter.
Reconnecting with vendors at the farmers’ market reminds me of the importance of community connections to local agriculture. The local farmer depends on the support of the public for their livelihood, just as the public relies on the farmer for local, sustainable products.
Your assignment is to go a farmers’ market and celebrate the beginning of the growing season and the return of warmer weather. There are plenty of markets to pick from in Central Iowa. Ames is the one most readers are familiar with, but there are plenty of others – Bondurant, Maxwell, Johnston, Waukee, Pleasant Hill, and the biggest one in the area, Des Moines. While you’re at it, you can start your own sweet corn countdown!
The smell is usually what people notice first. Is that lofty, heady scent from the peaches or the nectarines? Are the plums the ones giving the air that slightly grassy tang, or is it the apricots? Is it the white peaches that bring to mind a fresh cut rose, or is it the white nectarines?
It is nothing short of amazing that fruits with a hard stone heart could weep such sweet, tantalizing aromas, but nature ups the ante even further with the intense flavors and tastes behind those scents.
A stone fruit is any fruit with a stony pit in its center, such as peaches, plums, white nectarines, pluots, apricots, white peaches, nectarines, donut peaches and, to a certain degree, cherries. Cherries are included in my list of stone fruits as they have a similar seasonal availability of other stone fruits (late spring through early summer) and they do have a hard pit, albeit a very small one. Unlike other stone fruits, cherries require refrigeration to maximize their shelf life. All other stone fruits should never be stored in the refrigerator; this causes the fruit to become mealy.
Mealy fruit is fine for cooking, but for fresh eating it is best to store the fruit at room temperature and to use it within a couple of days of bringing it home. At the co-op, stone fruit we get on Monday is gone by Wednesday, we get a new delivery on Thursday and by Sunday that fruit is gone to make way for more the next day. We never go more than three days between deliveries, so our stone fruits should always be fresh enough to have excellent quality and also never be so old that they will be over-ripe and ruined a day after you get them home.
If you do have some stone fruits that are just too ripe to eat, but you don’t want to waste them, then you may want to try this recipe. The recipe calls for peaches, but any stone fruit will do.
Wheatsfield Co-op alongside National Co+op Grocers (NCG) is heartbroken by the senseless violence that took place on May 14, 2022 against the Black community in Buffalo, NY in a racially motivated domestic terrorist incident that took the lives of 10 people and wounded 3 more. We grieve with the families of those whose lives were taken and with everyone who is suffering in the Black community. As one grocer to another, we extend solidarity and empathy to the staff and shoppers of Tops Market on Jefferson, where this brutal act took place.
This was the latest in a series of mass shootings that have been fueled by white supremacy, deliberately targeting people based on their race, religion or sexuality. According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the number of hate crimes rose over 30% in 2020, the last date for which national data is available. Racially motivated hate crimes accounted for nearly 62% of these incidents, with the Black community being the most targeted group.
NCG advocates concern for community as one of our core co-op principles and advocates for racial equity. We condemn white supremacy and any ideology that suggests a race or group of people is genetically or culturally superior to another. We call on other companies to join us in standing against the continued spread of racially based oppression, intolerance and violent extremism.
We applaud Tops Market for its efforts to support its shoppers and staff during this time, and although we are competitors in business, we stand together in community.
National Co+op Grocers (NCG), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCG helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 148 member co-ops operate more than 200 storefronts in 38 states with combined annual sales of nearly $2.4 billion. NCG is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a certified B Corp. Find map of NCG member co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.grocery.coop.
Back for the 2022 Season! Join us for FREE Tiny Deck Concerts featuring live local music.
Fridays nights, June 24 – September 2, 6-7:30pm.
Meet us on the east deck and grab dinner, drinks and friends! Everyone is welcome!
Please bring a blanket or lawn chair too, the deck seating fills up quick.
Fri., June 24 | Miann
Michaela Thompson, under the artist title, “Miann” is a songstress weaving together ethereal themes and down to earth melodies in her work. With lyrics both realistic and spiritual, she creates a dreamlike atmosphere with beautiful vocal melodies, electric guitar, and piano.
Due to the large number of bands that will be performing at the 80/35 Music Festival, we have chosen not to have a performance on Friday, July 8. Instead we hope you will support their non-profit music festival in downtown Des Moines.
Fri., July 15 | Wally Neal & the Cloud Hidden Singers
A pocket orchestra playing the cosmic, candid songs of Wally Neal. Featuring Erin Radach on clarinet, Will Pett on cello and V Ellsbury on vocals.
V Ellsbury is a local singer/song writer/multi-instrumentalist musician. Picking up their first guitar at age 11, they haven’t stopped since! V’s sound can best be described as sultry and haunting with a little soul and blues dropped in.
Doomed Pioneers formed six years ago in Ames when Deanna and Jacqueline discovered that they enjoy the same mixture of jazz inspired folk music. Deanna has been singing all her life and is fascinated by minimalistic instrumentation and loves lyrics that employ a good turn of phrase. Jacqueline, originally a saxophone player, discovered the beauty of the guitar ten years ago and infuses songs of various genres with the feeling of Bossa Nova.
Fri., Aug 5 | Ben Schrag & the Cautionaries
Sweet, sad, and just a little rambunctious, Ben Schrag & the Cautionaries are a four-piece acoustic band from Ames, Iowa. Ben Schrag’s songwriting has received national awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Ben Schrag & the Cautionaries are: Cal Rebhuhn, Jim McNamara, Sara Goplin, and Ben Schrag.
Fri., Aug 12 | Adam Kindred
Born & (p)raised in Ames, Adam Kindred weaves his procrastination & personal failings into clever lyrics & ear worms that catch you by surprise & might just delight you.
Fri., Aug 19 | Iowa No Mountain Boys
Don’t miss this opportunity to catch Iowa’s newest traditional bluegrass band, The Iowa No Mountain Boys. Ripping traditional bluegrass music to get you moving. Featuring Chris Myers on Bass, Kyle Murphy on Mandolin, Mark Hargrove on Guitar, and Everett Hargrove on Banjo.
Fri., Aug 26 | Fred Love and the Bakersfield Brawl
Fred Love is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Ames, Iowa. He released his debut solo album, “Lily of the Valley,” in 2017. A native of an isolated farm town, Fred has always thought of his music as an extension of the most primal forms in the American songbook. Joined by drummer Cal Rebuhn and bassist Pat Blair, Fred Love and the Bakersfield Brawl offers an electrified shot of cowpunk, honky tonk and Americana.
Fri., Sept 2 | Britches & Hose Ukulele Club
Nicknamed the “band to melt all faces” by some people on the Internet, Britches & Hose Ukulele Club is an six-piece all-ukulele-all-the-time ensemble from central Iowa. Using a combination of ukuleles, voices, and rock-star charisma, Britches & Hose delivers a new twist on popular songs. Song selection ranges from folk to pop to arena rock – you’re never quite sure what B&H will play next.
Member-owners and Student Members enjoy 15% OFF all fresh department items in one shopping trip! You pick your shopping trip to apply the discount once between May 12-14. Load up your cart with FRESH foods! Just let your cashier know you want to use your discount.
Included in the Fill it with Fresh Sale: Produce, Meat, Seafood, Refrigerated dept. items in Aisle 1, Cheese, Bakery, Bread, Deli.
Not included in the Fill it with Fresh Sale: Bulk, Packaged Grocery, Frozen, Wellness & Body Care, Beer & Wine, General Merchandise.
The discount will not be applied to sale items, co-op basics items, or to special orders. Offer good while supplies last. No rainchecks available.
I am a landscape photographer based in Ames, IA. My journey started in 2016 when I bought a DSLR to capture our road trip across California. As a researcher at ISU, my days are fast paced and chaotic. The whole world slows down when I am outdoors, in nature, with a camera in my hand. It transports me to a world that is just idyllic and helps me forget my worries. the creative artistic and rational analytical parts of my brain a always in a restless juxtaposition. My photography is a reflection of this balancing act. The photographs on display show the beautiful interaction of light with things grand and small.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Central Iowa supports, educates and advocates for individuals living with mental illness and their family members at no charge to the participants. This non-profit 501(c)3 organization has expanded to serve Ames, ISU students, and residents throughout 14 central Iowa counties through their educational classes, support groups, public presentations and the mental health wellness center in Ames.
NAMI Central Iowa staff and dedicated volunteers provide the following complimentary services: Support groups for those living with mental illness are offered three times per week; Support groups for family members are offered three times per month; Public presentations at schools, churches, businesses and civic organizations; Individual support; Emergency financial loan assistance and so much more. Three different educational classes specifically designed for family members and individuals living with mental illness are regularly offered. There are no eligibility requirements, other than being impacted by mental illness in some way.
Every program, every support group, every presentation and every class is led by individuals with lived experience with mental illness. Each person knows what it is like to live with mental illness and/or support someone living with mental illness. Because of this organizational structure, those seeking NAMI Central Iowa assistance find they are not alone, find empathy and find hope.
Funding for NAMI Central Iowa is self-generated by direct donations to our office headquarters in Ames, IA. Generous donors, contracts and grants help NAMI Central Iowa to continue to provide free services. NAMI Central Iowa does not receive direct funding from the state or national NAMI. To make a donation please go directly to the affiliate website or direct your donation to 424 5th Street, Ames, IA 50010. An educational endowment has also been established through the Story County Community Foundation.
Spring is here! April snow notwithstanding, this is an exciting time of the year, when green things start popping and long-laid Winter plans can finally get underway in the garden. I can say from my experience that once the afternoons start getting darker and anything still flowering migrates inside, all I can think about is the coming reinvigoration of the world around us!
It’s fitting enough that April is celebrated as Earth Month, a time when we can all appreciate not only the rich beauty of our shared environment, but also its fragility. Humans can affect the environment in many ways, both good and bad. Let’s look at some of the good!
Food production can be a heavily impactful process for our environment, but it doesn’t have to be. In terms of practical, immediate-impact choices that we can all make to improve the environment, our food choices are among the top. When you shop at Wheatsfield Co-op, you can support both local farmers and sustainable farming practices. Less travel time for your produce cuts carbon emissions in transportation; eco-friendly agriculture maintains and improves the quality of the soil and the surrounding ecosystem.
Dietary choices like reducing reliance on meat products can also make a substantial difference. It takes significantly more resources to generate meat or meat-based products than produce (or plant-based meat alternatives). During our Earth Day Bulk sale, running April 21st through the 23rd, you can save not only money but resources by reusing your own clean containers, which reduces the amount of extra packaging produced and finding its way into our soil and waterways.
And nothing tastes better than food you grow yourself! A windowsill or backyard garden is a great way to participate in the food cycle firsthand, and you find a wide selection of Seed Savers Exchange seed packets for sale in the store. Don’t forget that on Saturday, April 23, from 10am-2pm
you can join us outside the store (or in the teaching kitchen) to start your own seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and chat about all things green.
Safeguarding our environment goes hand-in-hand with active involvement in support of our community. On April 29th and 30th, Ames’ annual Stash the Trash event is an opportunity to help clean up an area in town with your neighbors. Alternately, another volunteer event on April 30th with the City of Ames will work to clean the Ioway Creek, one of many vulnerable waterways in our state.
I feel so fortunate when I look around and see cleaner creeks, potable water, healthier soil, and a community that believes that these things are worth preserving. I feel just as lucky that we have a co-op like Wheatsfield in our community that facilitates so many positive developments in our shared environment during this lovely season. Even with the occasional mid-April snow. Happy Spring!
Happy Earth Week from your co-op! Want to do your part for the environment? It’s a lot easier than you think! These 5 eco-friendly habits are easy to adopt and will help reduce your impact.
1. Support Local Farmers.
Shop farmers’ markets, join a CSA, find a farmer near you that sells their products, and shop local producers at the co-op!
2. Rethink Your Need For New.
Use what you have, borrow instead of buying, buy used, and when you do shop, do so with intention. Check out local Buy Nothing Projects on Facebook or other community pages.
3. If It’s Broke, Fix It.
This ties into #2. Rather than tossing something out, see if it can be mended, reused, restored, or rehomed. Disposal should be the last resort.
4. Eat Less Meat.
Challenge yourself to enjoy more meals made up of veggies, grains, fruits, and responsibly-sourced dairy. Start with Meatless Mondays or try going vegan or vegetarian for a week. When you do eat meat, see #1.
5. Reduce Food Waste.
We are living in an unusual time that is providing an opportunity to learn to be creative and resourceful. Utilize the ‘scraps’, dress up and eat leftovers, by veggies that store well.
We have been selling Lonna’s seedlings for over ten years, and each year she outdoes herself with the quality and selection of her plants.
Spring has arrived, and so have our locally grown garden seedlings from Onion Creek Farm right here in Ames. This year we have a great selection of tomatoes, peppers and herbs grown with attentive care by Lonna Nachtigal.
Our selection of Red Tomatoes includes: Brandywine, Costoluto, Caspian Pink, Box Car Willie, Trophy, Marglobe, Fireworks, Marion, Eva’s Purple Ball, Rose, Saint Pierre, Rutgers.
For paste tomatoes, we have Amish Paste and Roma.
The list of not-red tomatoes includes: Gold Brandywine, Persimmon, Cherokee Purple, Rainbow, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Gold Jubilee, Ukrainian Purple, Green Zebra, Taxi.
We have Fargo Yellow Pear, Fence Row Cherry, Blond Kopfchen, Ingleheart, Texas Tiny and Patio tomatoes for those who like small snacking tomatoes.
Looking for peppers? California Wonder Bell, Gold Bell, Apple Pepper, Jimmy Nardello and Mini Mix are all sweet peppers perfect for snacking, cooking or a salad. Ausilio, Jalapeno, Anaheim, Hot Cherry Bomb, Czech Black, and Bulgarian Carrot hot peppers are available if you are looking to add some sizzle to your meals.
Lonna has also grown an assortment of herbs such as basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, lovage, pineapple sage, motherwort and mint. This year she is excited to offer a new seedling: Perennial Red Welsh Onion. This name is a bit of a misnomer, as these onions likely originated in China or Siberia. She says these onions are a great addition to any garden.
We have been selling Lonna’s seedlings for over ten years, and each year she outdoes herself with the quality and selection of her plants. If you are looking to fill up your garden and get a head start on eating home-grown produce, then stop on by and check out what we have to offer.