Quick things:

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A bowl of pasta with rainbow chard or beet greens, sweet Italian sausage, crumbled feta cheese, and thin strips of basil.

Pasta with chard (aka beet greens), sweet Italian sausage, feta, and basil. A summer tradition?

Five years, guys. On Thursday, May 28, 2015, we took the curtain down at Radish & Rye Food Hub for the very first time. It’s been…quite a ride.

It’s become somewhat of a tradition (at least in my head) for our anniversary post to be a little meta — to lay aside talk of food for a week, and talk about the state of the business — where we’ve been, where we’re going, and how it’s going. Over the last couple of months, though, I’ve done so much more writing about the business than usual that it feels less like an aside and more like, well, more of the same.

Still, I find a lot of value in my chosen traditions, and perhaps have never needed an anchoring moment more than I do right now and so over the last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to say. The answer, perhaps, is simple — I just don’t freaking know.

The extent to which life and the business have changed over the last two and a half months is still mind-boggling to me. I get the impression that many aspects of the world are beginning to return to — or evolve into — their “new normal”. Over here, honestly, we’ve been so busy that it’s been hard to think about what comes next, what we’ll evolve into. Sometimes it feels like all I’m thinking about, but I don’t know how much longer we’ll be doing the curbside-only thing. I don’t know how we’re going to manage curbside *and* in-person when it’s time. I don’t know when the store’s going to open. I don’t know what the world will look like when it does. It’s hard to take the long view when the immediate picture is so overwhelming.

But things at the stand are starting to calm down. Not only do we have some pretty good systems (even though the website still sucks for some people), in the last couple of weeks order volume has decreased to the point where sales are now not much higher than they were pre-Covid. We’re finding we have some extra bandwidth. It’s a little scary — you guys still love us, right? you’ll still buy food from us when the world goes back to “normal”, right? — but it’s also probably a much needed respite for our staff, and it’s probably the kind of breathing room we need in order to figure out what our new normal will look like.

What we do know is that our number one goal remains getting the best food to the most people. That constant will always remain. It’s the anchor I can always find. We also know that in order to do that (and, you know, because it’s the right thing to do), we have to prioritize the safety of our staff and our customers. So we’ve got these two things to start from, and all the things to figure out. It’s not, you know, where we thought we’d be five years in. But what about the world right now is what we thought it would be?

As I write, Dusty is over at the new store, caulking trim. There’s some equipment at the Restaurant Store waiting for us to pick it up, and more on the way. We’ve given up on waiting for USDA to respond (read: give us money) to move forward with the project, and are just trusting they’ll kick in eventually. Knock on wood. At some point we’ll hit a wall where we really can’t afford to move forward without them, but in the meantime we’ll make progress where we can.

I’m worried (perhaps ironically?) that I sound too gloomy. I will say that this has all been hard, and we haven’t had the “luxury” of taking the last couple of months to figure out what adjustments we’ll make as the world starts to re-open — we’ve been too busy being open! — so I think it’s going to continue to be hard for a little while. It’s getting to me.

But you know what, without fail, and even after FIVE YEARS brings a smile to my face, and sometimes makes me almost (all the way) giddy with excitement and joy?

The food.

Asparagus, with its late start, is not going to be around for much longer. Get your fill while you can.

Arugula arrived earlier this week, and the fragrance alone touches something deep in my soul.

The first beets of the new season have arrived, red and gold, with vibrant green leaves. Brown some sweet Italian sausage; add a can of tomatoes and let it simmer; throw in a handful of chopped beet greens; toss in some linguine and a scoop of the pasta water; serve it with crumbled feta and ribbons of basil; rejoice in the arrival of summer. (Oh — and don’t forget to do something wonderful with the beets themselves!)

Collard greens have arrived. Kale is (fairly) plentiful. Spinach and bok choy remain in good supply.

There’s a rumor that (a limited number of) strawberries might hit the site on Thursday. If there is one tradition that is vitally important to me — even though I have literally no control over it — it’s that of eating my first strawberry of the season on our anniversary weekend. Giddy, indeed.

The other anniversary tradition I have come to cherish is our little happy hour celebrations at the market on Friday evening. For me, these have been celebrations not only of our business, but also — especially — of the community of farmers and eaters we are lucky enough to be embedded in. Since we can’t come together in person this year, we’ll be streaming on Instagram Live on Friday starting at 5pm.

I should say — I have pretty much no idea how Instagram Live works, and I’m just assuming that (with Veronica’s expertise) we’ll figure it out. Crazy, maybe, but you know what? We’ve been figuring it out as we go for five years now. I suppose you could say I wouldn’t have it any other way.

-Julia

P.S. I can’t get through this part without tearing up, which is making it hard to gracefully weave it into all of the above^^^, but I can’t sign off without some gushing. The last five years have been the best of my life. There have been hard times and there have been crazy times, but all of the times have been good times. Not only can we get our hands on amazing food any time we want it, but we are surrounded by amazing people, from our staff to our farmers to our shoppers. Good food and good people? pretty much my dream life. Dusty and I are so honored and so grateful for your support over these last five years, and especially over the last few months. Thanks for making this a reality. We can’t wait to share the next chapter(s) with you.


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