Building a Community One Jar at a Time By Heidi Eleftheriou I consider raspberries to be the champagne of berries. I love cooking and feeding people. It’s something that I do a lot, being married to a Greek. My raspberry jam came about because I really wanted to sell an edible product, and something that was delicious. But my jam had to be the way I liked it, not too sweet and not too cooked. I had been selling my own field grown cut flowers at the Corrales Growers’ Market when it had just opened in the 1990s. Only six or seven vendors sold in those days, making it a lot of fun. Evelyn Losack, the matriarch of farmers in Corrales, started it. I began making jam in my own kitchen, of course. Food products at markets didn’t have to meet any regulations in those days. Then, Roxanne Wagner took me to can with her at the Sandoval County Extension project in the back of the Jemez High School— a real canning kitchen with all steam run machinery. You had to have a reservation to can. You could expect a line of women from Jemez Pueblo in front of you making salsa, chicos or maybe canning wild game or fish. You always helped the people in line before you finish their canning, so you could start yours. All of us, as women together in a kitchen, talked about the things that mattered. We solved the problems of the world. I needed a commercial kitchen, so I moved my operation to Northern New Mexico Community College in Española. After driving all the way to Española at the crack of dawn, the truck fully loaded with everything we needed, cooking till dark then driving back to Corrales, I was exhausted. Then, along came the South Valley kitchen! Since 2006, I have made my jam at the there year round at the Mixing Bowl commercial kitchen. Over the years, many great products have come out of that kitchen, helping so many local food entrepreneurs get started. The only way I sold jam for years was at farmers markets—it all happened at the Santa Fe, Corrales, Bernalillo, Los Ranchos, Los Alamos, and Downtown Albuquerque. At market, people talk and visit and I think it’s a way for a community to be a community. We hear about each other’s lives, kids, problems, and family. It makes us feel connected when we are a part of the farmers markets. My favorite benefit of the business is interacting with people at these venues. I have heard every raspberry story from one side of the country to the other. I know that raspberries grow like weeds by the side of the road in some places (not here), and I know that half of my customers first jobs were picking raspberries. Of course, everyone’s grandma made the best jam ever. That’s why the highest praise for my jam is, “This is better than my grandma’s!” Heidi's Raspberry Farm, www.heidisraspberryjam.com
edible Santa Fe | SPRING 2014
Published on Feb 26, 2014
Women and Food - The spring issue is a showcase of amazing women working in food and agriculture, from those defining local food distributio...