Eat Locally Year-Round!

Winter Fare Week 2008: Local Food in the Winter!

Eating locally grown food is easy in August when area farmstands are overflowing and a Free Harvest Supper is served on the Greenfield Town Common (click here to see photos). But what’s possible in the middle of winter? “Lots!” according to Juanita Nelson of Deerfield, MA (pictured right). She and some friends want everyone to eat locally year-round, so they are planning a week of Winter Fare, starting with an indoor farmers’ market in Greenfield, MA, on Groundhog Day, February 2, 2008. The farmers’ market will feature locally grown food including vegetables, milk, eggs, cheese, meat, honey, and maple syrup as well as workshops and informational displays about how to eat locally year- round. There will also be a ‘barter mart’ section of the market for individuals to bring their own surplus of homemade products- jams, jellies, pesto, etc.-to swap with one another.

(c) Hilltown FamiliesScheduled halfway between the first day of winter and the start of spring, Winter Fare will also include a week of meals featuring local foods, whether they are gatherings of friends or church-sponsored local food potlucks or special menus served at area restaurants. The Winter Fare organizers hope that their efforts will encourage everyone to include more local foods in their everyday life, whatever the season. Eating locally has many benefits, including saving energy, slowing global climate change, providing living incomes for area farmers, attracting new farmers to the area, and freeing far-away farms to grow food for their local residents instead of consumers in other countries.

Even though February 2, 2008 seems far off, the Winter Fare committee asks farmers, gardeners and everyone who likes to eat to plan now for what will be in local cupboards next Groundhog Day. The committee seeks farmers willing to grow extra storage crops to sell at the indoor farmers market and is looking into food storage facilities for those crops.

Committee member Ferdene Chin-Yee of Riverland Farm in Sunderland says, “For the market, we also are looking for people who make products such as pickles and preserves with locally grown ingredients. And we urge gardeners to plant lots of storage crops like potatoes, squash, and onions along with crops to preserve. Now is the time that home gardeners are buying seeds and planning this year’s garden. We hope they’ll plan for foods they can eat in the winter and include in Winter Fare week menus.” Also from Sunderland, Aaron Falbel adds, “For people without vegetable gardens, maybe this is the year to liberate part of your lawn and turn it into a productive vegetable garden.”

Actually, you don’t even have to grow your own vegetables to reap the year-round bounty of this area. Anyone who shops at summer farmstands, the summer farmers market or belongs to a CSA can stock up during the summer and fall harvest and preserve fruits and vegetables to eat in the winter. Mary McClintock, one of the Winter Fare organizers, knows she’ll have extra frozen pesto to trade at the barter mart section of the Groundhog Day market. She hopes others will bring their surplus to swap.

Interested in being a vendor or workshop leader at the Groundhog Day indoor farmers market? Want to know more about how to sponsor a Winter Fare meal? Want to help organize Winter Fare? Contact Mary at 413-369-0117, or Ferdene Chin-Yee at 665-2041 or ferdene@gmail.com.

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