You may have been noticing how much more we, as a community, are urged to buy local. Some of these reasons include getting to know your local farmers, experiencing foods selected for flavor instead of shelf life, and bolstering the local economy. Now as the warmth of summer has faded and the first signs of winter are making their annual appearances, most farm stands and farmers markets have closed for the season, leaving you to wonder where you can acquire locally-produced foods?
Since we do not live in a climate that allows produce to be grown year-round, it would be impossible to find certain types of locally-grown produce such as fresh strawberries in January. But, you can find some produce that has been grown under high-tunnels, protective row covers, or in greenhouses through the end of November and starting in the late winter/very early spring. More and more growers in our area are realizing the benefits of investing in season extension and as a result, we can purchase fresh salad greens long after the fall frost has killed our garden grown greens and long before we could ever get our greens into our gardens in the spring.
In addition to season extension, there is quite a bit of local produce that can be stored and eaten throughout the winter. Our apple growers store apples in cold storage, allowing area residents the opportunity to eat local apples throughout the winter. Vegetables such as carrots, winter squash, potatoes, turnip, cabbage, rutabaga, onion, and garlic can all be stored in a cool, dark environment for a few months. Farmers store this produce throughout the winter and continue to sell to local community members.
More and more grocery stores, especially locally owned markets, are purchasing at least a portion of their products from local farmers and producers. Many of these store owners will advertise what produce is local, making it easy to identify as locally grown. Adirondack Harvest, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to local foods, helps connect consumers with producers.
To find out what stores in your area carry locally produced foods visit www.adirondackharvest.com.
Anne Lenox Barlow is the horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. CCE offices may be reached in Clinton County at 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; and Franklin County, 483-7403. E-mail your questions to askMG@cornell.edu.