entertainingFood & Drinkoutdoorstudio choowe like it wild

we like it wild: fall market to table

by Grace Bonney

All it takes is one big rainstorm to make everything feel like fall all of a sudden. Luckily we made it out to San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market last Saturday, one step ahead of the cold front, and found some inspiring autumnal treasures to build this week’s Market to Table arrangement.

We knew we wanted to use warm, fall colors, but we arrived at the market without anything specific in mind and just let our imaginations take charge. With tons of vendors selling everything from rustic honeycombs and pungent cheeses, to geranium plants and coffee brewed by the cup (yum), this market hosts farmers who bring their best produce and freshest flowers straight from the field to your table.

And it’s a great place to test your produce knowledge. For example, did you know that carrots don’t have to be long and lean? Apparently they also come as thick and stout as russet potatoes (and our favorite shape- a pair of small pants). When we saw these crazy carrots we flipped for them and knew we had to use them in this week’s arrangement, hence the carrot vase was born!

CLICK HERE for the full arrangement how-to (and 8 more pictures) after the jump!

After selecting two fairly fat fellows we hit up the flower stands for some oranges, reds and yellows to deck out our “vases”. While we were at it, we couldn’t help loading up on other delicious root vegetables for our dinner plates, too: what a perfect night for homemade stew. We typically don’t buy mixed flowers, but this project is the perfect reason to select a bunch with a variety of blooms. You can pull out what you want for the centerpiece (we call it a bits and bits arrangement) and display the remaining stems in a mason jar.

When we got back to the house it was simply a matter of spooning out enough orangey-insides from our fatty carrots to make enough room for a few stems and berries. We used a paring knife to cut the shape of the hole then used a sturdy metal spoon to scoop. A few inches wide and about an inch deep and we were in business. If you are worried about leaks you can line the hole with plastic wrap before adding the water. We let some fall berries trail off to the side for a bit of an abundant, cornucopia effect. If we said carrot-copia would that be too much? Okay, we won’t say it.

To make this arrangement yourself, find some huge carrots or other hearty root vegetables, cut holes and scoop away the center deep enough for some short stems to stand. Obviously, we didn’t peel our carrots or do much in the way of cleaning; we liked the rustic, straight from the ground look our carrots had. Rubber band a small group of flowers together and cut them short enough to rest in the carrot hole. Once the first bunch is firmly in place you can add in some smaller individual flowers and berry sprigs to fill out along the edges. If you have one larger stem (like our dahlia) you could also “float” him in the carrot and place a few small seasonal stems on the outer edges. You’ll have to check the water level frequently- this guy would work well as a centerpiece that doesn’t need to be super long lasting. Ours looked good for about three days, but it will no doubt last through a dinner party and spark some colorful conversation.


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  • I could see doing something like this with winter squash too. Not quite as inventive as an oversize carrot but the shapes, colors, textures and patterns of squash varieties could be really lovely. And for the record I love the carrot pants.

  • Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I have to ask… the photographs of your flowers are always gorgeous and crisp. What kind of camera do you use and what setting?

  • You could make this arrangement last longer by putting the flowers in tiny water tubes and cutting little holes in the carrots to fit the water tubes. Fruits and vegetables (especially when cut into) release ethylene gas, which is death to flowers. Keeping just a little more separation between the flowers and the vegetable container so the water stays clean and free of ethylene gas will go a long way to making it last longer.

  • Living in Nicaragua right now and the carrots are OBSCENE they are so huge. I didn’t know organic could look like that.

  • I love the SF Ferry Plaza Market! I haven’t been in a while, so it’s fun to see the new produce as the seasons change… What a creative idea to use the carrots! So colorful!

  • It could be cute to clean out a pumpkin and cut smallish holes around the top, put a bowl or vase inside and stick flowers through the holes. Or at least in my head it could be cute. :)

  • love it .love it. love it. couldn’t you put just a soupcon of oasis in polyfoli and make it a little easier to keep everything in place? or am i being too ocd?

  • Great idea! That huge double-pronged carrot is hilarious. I used to live in Seattle, and had forgotten what beautiful produce and flowers you can get throughout the fall. Gorgeous post!

    xo Katherine aka. Urban Flea :)

  • I already had a crush on the studio choo posts and am now in love. The could be nothing better than a carrot-copia.

  • Unexpected but so pretty! I know of the bigger and fatter carrots at the Chinese supermarket for soups but I’ve never seen carrots this big… ingenious Studio Choo!

  • farmer’s markets are a great place to find unusual produce like carrot pants- we find it best to go with an open mind and let what is seasonal guide us. how long the arrangement will last depends on the on the types of flowers you use- changing the water everyday will also help. and small water tubes and oasis are a few other great ideas for making this project easier and longer lasting!

  • Amazing if I hadn’t read the post I would have guessed that it was a sweet potato – or a yam because they are thinner skinned. I think the fruit to be the most worried about when using as a flower vessel is an apple – big no no. I have used pears and they lasted for days!

  • Wow- I am a lover of the unique for myself and my clients. This arrangement in the carrot fits the bill perfectly. The general idea of this could lead to other thoughts for my holiday decorating service.