At Hyde Park Farmers Market, it’s all about the big picture. Liz Sites, owner and general manager of the market since 2018, is concerned with the current level of food waste. “We have an entire industrial system that’s based on overproduction,” she reflects.
Liz wants the Hyde Park Farmers Market to model a better system. That’s why, every Sunday afternoon as the market wraps up, a concerted and organized effort is underway to eliminate food waste.
First, workers and volunteers from the Society of Saint Andrew go tent-to-tent, picking up unsold produce from each farmer. Going tent-to-tent rather than asking farmers to drop off their excess food is a strategic move, according to Area Gleaning Coordinator Fran Collins. It makes donating food and eliminating waste the easiest choice.
Once the food is gleaned from the market and packaged by the Society of St. Andrew, Last Mile Food Rescue delivers the produce to La Soupe, who prepares the food and serves it to those with limited food access.
“This whole operation, if you think about it, there’s five entities in the chain,” Fran explains. “You have the growers, you have Hyde Park Farmers Market where they’re selling, you have us, we’re the Society of St. Andrew, we’re the ones that are actually going to the vendors and collecting whatever they have…and then…Last Mile, and then it all goes to La Soupe in Walnut Hills. It’s cool that we all are collaborating.”
This coordinated process is one that owner Liz Sites is proud of. Her commitment to a circular food system is also apparent in the producers that she works with. In order to set up shop at Hyde Park Farmer’s Market, each farm must adhere to organic and sustainable practices. “Our farmers don’t exploit the soil, they build soil,” Liz says. Participating farmers work hard to reduce their food waste by donating food to pantries near their farms, composting to create fertilizer, or feeding their excess produce to livestock. In the words of Jerry, a farmer who regularly sells at the market, “if you put a lot of effort into stuff, you don’t waste it.”
Liz herself is passionate about stopping food waste in her own home. She knows how tempting it can be to overbuy at farmers markets, so she always makes a list. “When you shop the market…everything looks so good. You want to think about it before you go shopping.” She’s also a fan of using food in unconventional ways. “You want to get creative… let’s do something crazy with it.”
Hyde Park Farmers Market is located in Hyde Park Square and is open on Sundays in May-October from 9:30 am-1:00 pm.
Liz’s Beet Top and Carrot Top Pesto
(Get Your Ingredients at a Farmers Market!)
2 ½ - 3 cups beet top greens
2 ½ - 3 cups carrot top greens
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
Toss the greens, walnuts, grated parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, lemon juice, and zest in a blender or food processor. Blend them all together until everything is chopped up.
With the blender or food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until the sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt (start with a couple of pinches).
Feel free to use only beet tops or only carrot tops for this recipe.
As the summer goes on, tops tend to get bitter, so you can add a drop or two of honey to counteract the taste!