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Getting local food in winter

Winter in the North Country can be a very cruel time for the home gardener. By this time, my supply of home grown produce stored in the house is quickly dwindling. The green beans, sweet potatoes, and squash are all gone. All I have left to get me through the winter is some frozen berries, some potatoes, and garlic.

I will not run out of food. It is 2011! I can easily go to the grocery store down the street to buy more produce, but that is different. Food grown in your own family's garden or from a local farmer is different from the produce you can purchase at the grocery store.

The varieties of tomatoes, squash, and other summer vegetables available at the grocery store in the winter are selected and grown because they can withstand being shipped long distances and are uniform in color, size, and shape. Beets or carrots grown locally are varieties that are most often chosen for their good flavor and high nutritional values.

Besides tasting better, locally-grown foods supports our local families and neighbors. Farmlands, and a way of life, are preserved when you purchase local products. And, there is less air pollution produced from locally-grown food because the food isn't being shipped across the country.

You may think that it is a crazy idea, buying local produce during the winter. But, it is rather easy. Production techniques allow farmers to grow greens year-round in structures called high tunnels. Carrots, beets, squash, apples, and other produce can be stored in root cellars throughout most of the winter.

One great place to find local food is www.plattsburghfarmersmarket.com. It is a group of local producers who offer their products - ranging from produce to local, grassfed meats, to baked goods - on-line. Costumers place an order and pick up their products once a week at Rehoboth Homestead Farms in Peru. For a small fee, the products can be delivered, if the costumer lives within the designated delivery route.

Another place to look for local foods is www.adirondackharvest.com. This webpage offers locations to local farmers markets, farm stands, and stores and restaurants that carry local foods.

Knowing that locally-grown food is available year-round is one simple way to remember how quickly the new gardening season will be here!

Anne Lenox Barlow has had experience in the agricultural field as a horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. She can be reached by e-mail at a.lennox.barlow@gmail.com.

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