This past Saturday, I had the F.R.E.D. cart out at the Waterloo Urban Market again. It was a spectacular day! Not only did I get to make and share 3 new recipes (including this Summer Fajita Mix), my husband joined me and we got to connect so many people with good, local food! I had the pleasure of learning more about Mike Cook of Cook’s Fruits and Vegetables.
Mike started selling fresh produce from his farm at the Downtown Waterloo Farmer’s Market in 1992. Just before the turn of the century, his family and career at John Deere kept him too busy to do the markets. About 3 years ago, he decided to come back with encouragement from his daughter. She was there to help as were a few others to provide quality customer service to all those who approached the stand.
When asked what motivates him to come in with a truckful of his fresh produce every Saturday, Mike smiles and simply states, “I’m a farmer.” He has about 115 acres of corn and soybeans, a big garden and fruit trees. Mike’s face lights up as he describes how he feels about being a farmer. He confesses, “It’s golden to walk out your back door and be able to get your own food.” Mike loves every part of growing and caring for the plants that will one day become food on someone’s plate. He says he’ll keep at it “until he can’t do it anymore.”
Sharing the Farm
Mike reveals his favorite part of growing and selling fresh produce at the Waterloo Urban Market is interacting with the people. “Waterloo is full of people from diferent nationalities” all over the world. He says it’s interesting to talk to them, learn from them and about them.
One of the most gratifying things is the feeling he gets when people buy from him. “Its like I get to share a piece of my farm with them,” he explains. Connecting people to that golden feeling of the good food produced on the land he cultivates.
I bought an onion and a few red peppers from Mike to create this Summer Fajita Mix. It was a hit, even if was a little spicier than some people cared for. You can cut back on the cumin and cayenne/red pepper flakes if you don’t like as much kick as I do. A little cumin will give it that fajita flavor, though. I’ll be sharing the other 2 recipes later this week.
You can meet Mike & his friendly crew on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. – 12 noon at the Waterloo Urban Market. I am greatful Mike had the beautiful onion & peppers. They really made the color and flavor pop on this dish. I am especially thankful for our time to visit and for the opportunity to share a piece of his farm with you.