November 18, 2010

Eating Sustainably in Autumn.

Locavore Vegetarians Prepare for the Change in Season.

Fall ahead, the night comes earlier. November frosts hit the chard and arugula. Kale is hearty, while beets and carrots enjoy the warmth of the ground. Hoop houses protect some of the greens, but as the evening temperatures dip into the low teens our fall growing season is limited.

“Super markets have branches, farmers markets have roots,” reads the bumper sticker on the bio-diesel F350, its truck bed lined with boxes of Shiitake, Oyster, King Oyster and Lion’s Mane mushrooms (my personal favorite, good for brain and nervous system function). Less daylight for photosynthesis and the high cost of heating greenhouses means the stroll through the farmers’ market is nearing a close for the season and locavore vegetarians again are visible in the peripheral aisles of super markets.

Bees have their honeycomb, storing the nectar of flowers, for the winter. Locavores, like bees, work on storing crops for over winter use. Canning, freezing fruit and vegetables, blanching and filling root cellars, the locavore vegetarian fills mason jars and pantries to stave off visits to super market branches.

The fridge is full of radishes, turnips, Chioggia beets, shallots, sunchokes and kale.  Garlic is stored in a paper bag in the pantry, dried beans (Anasazi, Hopi black, yellow Indian woman and Mexican red from Abbondonza) are sorted and placed in mason jars, fruit is dehydrated and herbs are dried (marjoram, thyme, orange sage, basil and stinging nettle).  The storage crops in the pantry include squash (butternut squash, Spaghetti squash, Delicata squash, and Acorn Squash) and hopi pumpkins; they all sit alongside locally canned beets, peaches, peppers and tomatoes.

The pantry is ready for winter just as the farm is also preparing for the change of season. The grower applies valerian (for warming and frost protection) to their remaining greens. He plants over winter soft neck garlic with a team of volunteers from CU Boulder. He turns off the water to the fields and rolls up their drip irrigation pipes. A fresh mixture of compost is prepared and buried alongside the field.  The field is then rototilled and last year’s compost tea is applied, replenishing nitrogen in the soil.

In the greenhouse the grower leafs through Abbondonza and Johnny’s Seeds catalogs and readies next years planting order. Like the farmers’ market and the vegetarian, the farm is ready to rest for the winter.


CSU is one of the best sources for food storage and safety.

So is Seeds of Change.

Check out MM Local to learn about locally grown vegetables and fruit preserved for winter.

If you’re thinking about your own garden next year, remember to buy organic seeds and plant starts at places like your farmers’ market and Johnny’s Seeds and Abbondanza.

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