There is a new Farmer’s Market that’s started up right in my lovely little city of Holyoke. It’s on Saturday mornings at Open Square, and it’s already growing. You see, starting up a new market is no easy task according to farmer Dan from Astarte Farm. Farmers don’t want to show up and have no patrons, thus make no money, and patrons don’t want to waste their time going to a new market that doesn’t have enough farmers at it to give them a great variety to choose from. I think that this market has started off well though. There are soaps, eggs, lots of veggies, grass-fed beef, herbs, bread, cheese and grains. Plus it’s at Open Square, so you can really make a day of it by having breakfast or lunch at Slice Cafe, get a haircut, mani, pedi, or massage at Serene Salon & Spa, attend a yoga or dance class at Vega Yoga, the options are endless. Plus the canal walk┬áis right there, as are the Children’s Museum and the carousel– all within walking/biking distance.

Speaking of the grains, the vendor at the Open Square market who brings grains for sale is Four Star Farms, and they’re pretty smart. You see, instead of simply packaging their grains and pricing them and calling it a day, they showed up with a) their product, b) samples of baked goods using the product, and c) printed recipes and re-order forms for their grains. That’s how they got me. I had never even thought to bake with barley flour before. I tried a sample of some coffee cake that they had baked with it. I had no idea what I had been missing! Barley flour has a moist, sweet, nut-like flavor. While I haven’t yet tried any of their recipes, I did decide to make my own banana bread recipe with 100% barley flour. The result was a moist, dense, darkly-colored loaf of yum!


  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups barley flour
  • 1/4 cup raw wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg


  1. Cream the coconut oil, eggs, bananas, syrup, honey, vanilla and yogurt in a large stand mixer
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated
  4. Pour the batter into a greased Bundt pan, sprinkled with a bit of wheat germ
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350
  6. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to complete cooling