And now for another installment of “Only in Floyd.”
A muggy but cool Blue Ridge Friday evening at the Artisans Market, somewhat less foot traffic with the nearby Fiddlers’ Convention in full swing. American roots music at the Jamboree and on the street, that’s what folks come to see. Yet different, rather gracious sounds float from under the Community Market Pavilion. Nii Anang, native of Ghana now of Check, VA, plays African flute music, rich and lyrical, while Yarrow and Rob coax bi-tonal hums from the didgeridoo, an instrument of the native Australian population. Joel steps away from his artisan booth, onto the electric bass and it’s on. Music, well-made and soulful, played just for the playing and the joy it brings, universal yet completely unique. Another Friday in downtown Floyd.
Ben Kirkland also added a musical dimension to the Farmers Market, albeit with a less exotic, more home-style tone. Music has been missing at the Farmers Market, especially in a town that considers itself a musical place. Ben stepped up this weekend and lifted the vibe of the market with the first few strums on his well-strummed guitar. Thanks, Ben, for a great morning of music!
“Simplicity” is the name of the just-from-the-cellar, just-released, farmers-style, semi-soft, aged raw-milk cheese from Sterling Bridge Dairy Farm. It’s a wonderfully straightforward cheese, relying on the quality of the ingredients, yet tastes anything but bland. Mellow on entering the mouth, the tang develops on the back end as it turns to cream on your tongue. I swear I can taste the lush Floyd County grass and that’s a beautiful thing.
What a treasure Floyd has in Sterling Bridge, the Willis grass-fed dairy owned and operated by Randy and Nancy Crompton along with son Eliot, producing artisanal cheeses right here in our backyard. Micro-dairy is a tough row-to-hoe with the huge start up expenses and onerous governmental regulations. That’s before you get to the hard work of dairying. Nancy “blames” Randy as it was his youthful work on his uncle’s Iowa dairy farm that fed a long held dream until it found purchase in the fertile pastures of southern Floyd County. A friend gave them a copy of The Man Who Moved a Mountain years ago and convergences and coincidences of all styles led them to purchase the 35 acre farm in 2005, not far from the setting of the book.
They milk four Jersey cows and 8 goats to provide an array of dairy products: raw-aged cheeses, butter, feta-style cheese and soft chevre plain and in various flavors like tomato-basil, garlic-chive, garlic-dill, curry-honey and others as the seasons allow. They sell at Harvest Moon, The Bread Basket, Blacksburg Farmers Market and, of course, their hometown market of Floyd each and every Saturday. Randy and Nancy didn’t hesitate to join when the market opened as they are committed to the local food movement even if it meant lower sales at a smaller market. This commitment comes through in every bite of these wonderful cheeses.
Floyd Top Tomato Contest this week at the market. Get your entries in by 10 am Saturday morning. See details at www.sustainfloyd.org.
See you at the market!
Mike Burton is the Director of SustainFloyd