It may be summer vacation for many; it is much the opposite for local farmers. Fruit and vegetable farmers have been at work preparing the soil and the plants for summer harvest for months, and sometimes even years before you get to taste the finished product. By the time summer arrives, farmers hope for warm, sunny days, and regular rain to keep the crops in top shape to grow high quality food.
Not all of us are able to pick our own produce, depending on time, temperature, or mobility. Many farms featuring local produce offer pre-picked food in various sizes. While you’re at the farm or market, ask if there are any tips on washing and storing the food, so none will go to waste, and also if recipe cards are available to be picked up.
Now that your trunk is full of fresh food, your challenge is to make the most of it. Once it’s home and washed, and if your family has not snacked its way through the entire pint of berries, or bag of peas, try your hand at a new salad or jam, or maybe just a simple dip to enjoy the fresh flavours.
Sometimes during a heat wave it can seem impossible to find the energy, or a cool enough kitchen to attempt a new skill like canning, making jam or salsa or baking a pie. The fastest solution might simply to determine how best to freeze your food. Some can be frozen simply washed and dried, while others require ‘blanching’ to quickly boil and then cool the food before packing into containers or bags. There are also many recipes for fruit and vegetables that offer a simple version for time-crunched foodies; like freezer jam, or fresh salsa that can be stored in the fridge for several days.
If you’re looking for inspiration, the Buy Local Buy Fresh Map features local pick your own and farm gate locations as well as a chart highlighting when local produce is available. The Map and other wonderful resources are available on the Take the Toonie Challenge website http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/buy-local-buy-fresh/. While you are there learn more about other easy steps you can take to support local agriculture.
The article above was written by Janine Lunn from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture a partner in the Take the Toonie Challenge Campaign.
Check out this article from last summer when we toured three blueberry farms in western Elgin. (Find other blueberry locations in Elgin County on the Buy Local Buy Fresh map.) There are some photos, tips on eating and freezing, and lots of recipes sources. More…