Side Dishes: Leftover food news
It’s National Farmers’ Market Week (didn’t you know?) and, to celebrate, NOFA Vermont is sponsoring the first-ever “Buy It, Cook It, Film It” challenge.
To enter, budding videographers must shop at an area market, prepare a recipe and sample the goods, capturing the whole process on film. The shopping portions must be filmed by August 8, and submissions should be uploaded to NOFA’s YouTube channel by the 10th. Otherwise, anything goes. Says the nonprofit’s website: “Film a music video, interview your farmer, host a cooking show — anything that’s entertaining and includes local food and your farmers’ market is all right by us.”
Three top finishers, chosen by Ag. Secretary Roger Allbee and NOFA Executive Director Enid Wonnacott, will each receive a prize pack.
Perhaps the winner of the NOFA video contest should try sending the results to the Food Network for a shot at glory. After all, UVM alum and Alpha Chi sorority sister Melissa d’Arabian, who now lives in Washington state, was just named “The Next Food Network Star.”
The peppy blonde’s show, “Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d’Arabian,”  premieres on August 9.
If you see local tomatoes at your favorite food store, you may want to snap them up. The late blight fungus, the same nasty stuff that caused the Irish potato famine, is hitting Vermont farms hard this year.
Unaffected crops can be protected with fungicides, but once a plant is blighted, it can’t be saved. Check out the UVM Extension website, www.uvm.edu/extension , for more information.
The folks at Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center  in East Thetford are clearly banking on keeping their tomato plants around.
On August 21, the organic farm will hold its second annual heirloom-versus-hybrid tomato taste test. Visitors will be treated to music, a talk by tomato-expert author Ben Watson, and samples of 30 different varieties in a rainbow of colors.
Sun-loving plants such as corn and bell peppers are suffering this year, but one crop is thriving in the drizzle: blueberries. According to Adam Hausmann of Adam’s Berry Farm  in the Burlington Intervale, he and his staffers are working as fast as they can, but are unable to harvest the entire bounty. “[Even though] we’re picking hundreds of pounds a day, we’re having trouble staying on top of the crop,” he marvels.
Hausmann’s hoping that pick-your-own customers can help. “I’d hate to see such a beautiful berry crop wasted,” he says. The farm is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Other nearby DIY sites include Willow Hill Farm  in Milton, Boutin Berry Farm in Williston, Covered Bridge Berry Patch in Underhill, Sam Mazza’s  in Colchester, Paul Mazza’s  in Colchester and Essex, Pelkey’s Vermont Blueberries and the Charlotte Berry Farm  in Charlotte, and Owl’s Head Blueberry Farm  in Richmond, where you can pick to music on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.