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Deep Winter Eats

tree-logo-dotWhile Deep Winter is typically a time of rest, especially for local foods, this year I’ve seen an increase in activity. Many local food CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) have stepped up to creating a local food system by offering Deep Winter Shares, some going as far as freezing the bounty of the harvest for winter distribution. Various local communities (Greenfield, Northampton, Amherst, Springfield, etc.) sponsored Winter Fairs to connect growers with the community.

My household gets our Deep Winter CSA from Red Fire Farm every two weeks and we’ve been thrilled with the offerings. To be fair, everyone I know, whether they are getting their winter share from Enterprise, Mountain View, or another local farm, has been happy with what they’ve gotten. I personally appreciate Red Fire’s variety; while we might have sweet potatoes each share they are various types and offer different flavors to the palate as well as increasing (or at least maintaining a little piece of) bio-diversity of our ecosystem.

Deep winter eating does usually involve a lot of roots, because they simply keep better into the winter than summer vegetables. Occasionally roots that have been well stored will last until late spring: they’ve kept me able to eat locally in years past until my garden begins to produce, the farmers market re-opens, or the CSA starts up.

I will admit that at the end of the fall I looked upon these roots, on occasion, longing for something green. Wasn’t I thrilled when my Winter share pickup had greens on the list!

Going green and eating local doesn’t mean sacrifice, I find joy in the patterns of harvest and anticipating what’s next, while constantly relishing in the flavors of the season. While I might not be getting avocados or oranges, I am getting fresh greens – in January. Many of the local farms have greenhouses which are currently producing meaning that you don’t have to resort to buying produce from California if you are craving a salad.

While it is not as diverse as the summer months, my locally grown diet currently consists of various: carrots, parsnips, cabbage, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, celeraic, beets, turnips, rutabaga, onions, garlic, shallots, apples, pears, spinach, arugula, mixed greens, frozen tomatoes, frozen kale, and various other locally made goodies from the height of the harvest. This feast, made better because of the skills of diversifying the species grown, will keep me content.

I look forward to seeing the Pioneer Valley agricultural community continue to grow in its capacity to provide year-round food.

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