Eating Sustainably in Autumn.

Via Jeffrey Woodruff
on Nov 18, 2010
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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.


About Jeffrey Woodruff

Jeffrey is a competitive cross country skier and marathon runner. He has completed sixteen marathons in six countries. Jeffrey recently received his Master of Architecture at the University of Colorado Denver.


7 Responses to “Eating Sustainably in Autumn.”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    Love this, Jeffrey! It's easy for me to eat locally/seasonally during spring and summer, but a bit more difficult in the autumn and winter. Thanks for these ideas – makes a girl wanna whip up some apple butter… ~Angela R.

  2. Jeffrey Woodruff says:

    Thank you Angela. Enjoy the apple butter. I have Peach Lemongrass Butter, but I may have to join you in making some apple butter with this weeks trip to the market. Ela has apple (braeburn) and peach butter, but you inspired me to make a fresh batch of fuji apple butter!

    Or from Ela Family Farms, Peach Salsa-


    2 peaches washed, peeled and diced
    1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    1/4 cup red onion, chopped
    juice of 1/2 a fresh lime
    1 jalapeno pepper diced
    Mix all ingredients together and let sit, refrigerated, for 1 hour

  3. Kathryn says:

    Some of the best recipes for eating seasonally and preparing for the change in season:
    Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables:

    Other recommendations include cookbooks by Mollie Katzen (Cooking for Health) and Alice Waters (Chez Panisse Vegetables). Apples are still around and Mollie Katzen has an amazing recipe for apple crumble. I substitute coconut butter for maple syrup, but you may also try cacao butter.

    The autumn and winter are wonderful for eating locally, but they definitely require a little more preparation. The hardest part remains finding local greens.

  4. Laurie says:

    I think I am lucky to be in Southern CA! Our CSA farm has greens throughout the winter (Hydroponic Greenhouse) , along with Winter Squash, Beets, Broccoli, Spinach, Lettuce, Cauliflower, Radicchio, etc! We eat soup often! I do miss the tomatoes and eggplant but they'll be back next year! My onions and potatoes are sitting cool and cozy in the garage, ready for me to grab them for recipes.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    I use to live in Laguna Beach and miss the longer growing season. In Boulder it is cost prohibitive to keep the greens growing over winter. I think storing vegetables is the best way to continue to eat locally year round.

    I hope as alternative energy becomes more affordable we may keep the greenhouse heated over winter and grow greens for local markets and restaurants.

  6. […] Never eat food from a can. Aluminum cans have a wonderful BPA lining to prevent the aluminum from rusting. Buy fresh, can your own fresh food in glass jars and rehydrate dried food with a pressure cooker. Storing your food in glass jars avoid the wonderful leaching of chemicals into your food. […]

  7. Quem não conhece o Hopi Hari tem que conhecer.