beat the system with gardens & freezers

2 stories for you — A couple of things I found to be an inspiration this past year –

1. A friend and her family planted their first backyard garden this past summer. She showed me how they took a section of their lawn and began their first garden. They asked people around them for tips and then set to it. I was inspired, mid-summer, when she invited me to take a peek at their backyard bounty. As I looked at her tall kale and far-reaching cucumber plants, I was encouraged that they had taken some action to secure super-fresh vegetables for themselves. Her small children were seeing first hand what it takes to nourish yourself with some seeds, knowledge, work and a willingness to try something new.

2. Another person I was inspired by this summer was one of our CSA members, Barb. Barb is a senior who lives alone and signs up for our 7 pound weekly CSA box.

She emailed me mid-summer,

“I am processing your bounty today and knew when I started with you, I would be taking on the problems that would happen if I planted my own garden, so am always pleased to see what I am getting each week. Keep up the excellent work, I love what I get….5 pints of green beans and a pint of kale and a pint of chard are in the freezer along with all the others I have already done for winter and when I open them this winter the aroma is summer all over again. On the back of the stove I have large pot simmering with tomatoes, shallots, onion, summer squash, the stems of the chard and kale, and the Russian kale from last week. When ready they will go through the blender and be used all winter as well as sauce, soups etc. You guys are so great. You should smell the aroma here all because you grow them and offer them to us.”

She told me at the market one day as she recounted what she had processed, “I feel like I’m beating the system!” I totally loved that. Preserving your own food is an awesome way to ‘beat the system’ and eat local year-round.

Some people don’t sign up for our box because they feel 7 pounds is too much for one person (or more). However, summer is the perfect time to preserve.  A freezer, some basic equipment, a willingness to put in the time and a few learnable skills are the main things needed to eat more local food in the winter. Even if you pick just one vegetable to preserve this summer, that is one more local veg that you get to enjoy come winter. You are making a difference for yourself, your family and the environment too.

This year we tried to store away more than other years too – it is a challenge with time, for sure, but we got some green beans and tomato sauce, ketchup, relishes and pickles put away – either frozen or canned.

When the bounty of the summer is upon us, consider what you can put away for the colder months. Ask us or other farmers what kind of bulk discounts they can give. If people start buying vegetables in quantity (10 pounds or more), we will happily need to bring more to the market. Placing an order or inquiring a few days in advance is always helpful.

Here are a few things we have preserved ourselves or heard of others preserving (lots of idea online as well):

In the freezer: green beans, broccoli (need blanching), roasted peppers, shredded zucchini (good for baking), kale and spinach.

Canning: ketchup, relishes, pickles (beans, zucchini, beets etc.), jam and fruit sauce.

Fridge: carrots & beets store for months in sealed bags (stock up in the fall & use in the winter)

Drying: tomatoes

Potatoes: can store for months in the winter – somewhere cool, if possible, and dark (not the fridge).

I hope you are encouraged in your local food pursuits and inspired to preserve at least one type of vegetable this summer. Look up some recipes and make some plans in the coming weeks, because before you know it, your market and/or CSA box will be full of delicious treats you are going to want to enjoy in the winter too!

~Cara

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