AMY IVY, Cornell Cooperative Extension
---- — I went to the Winter Farmers Market in Plattsburgh last weekend, and I was surprised there weren’t more customers there.
If we as consumers want local food, we need to get out there and buy it. The more we buy, the more our growers will grow. At last week’s market there were potatoes, sweet potatoes, celeriac, carrots, onions, garlic, camembert cheese, eggs, chicken, lamb, beef, honey and maple syrup. I know I’m missing some items but you get the idea.
Our fourth-annual Food from the Farm event is coming up Saturday, March 1, at the City Recreation Center on the Oval (same place as the winter market). Every year people ask us why we hold this big event in March, when there’s no local food around.
But that’s just the point. There is local food to be had. And there would be even more if customers asked for it. Our main goal of this event is to energize consumers to get excited about local food.
At this event you can shop from the many vendors (we had 24 farms there last year), talk with the growers, sign up for CSAs, get information about each of the farms, and help yourself to the chili, soup, stew and other dishes prepared using local food. Last year we had 350 people attend, this year we’re hoping to reach 500. To register, visit our website at cce.cornell.edu/clinton or call our office.
If you wish you had some of your own food left in your refrigerator, now is a good time to make plans for this summer’s garden. Canning, freezing and drying are all good ways of preserving products you grow yourself or buy at local markets or farms.
But there are many products that last well into winter without much fussing. I just made leek and potato soup from the last of my own leeks and potatoes from a local farm. I harvested my leeks in November and have kept them in a plastic grocery bag in my refrigerator ever since.
I still have my own shallots, onions and garlic in a cardboard box in the kitchen cupboard, although they’re going fast. I’ve got to plant more this summer.
Candy is a nice sweet onion variety but like all of the sweet onions, it doesn’t store well. My favorite storage onion is Copra.
If you’d like to grow your own leeks, be aware there are different types. The best known short season leek is King Richard, which is ready in about 75 days and keeps a few weeks in your refrigerator. The longer term storage leeks, such as Pancho or Tandorna, take anywhere from 95 to 110 days or longer. It’s easiest to buy leeks as seedlings through mail order, but if you want to start your own you’ll need to plant them indoors by the end of February and transplant them into your garden in early May.
I didn’t think I liked parnsips, but that was before I actually tried them. It turns out, I love them. They are a long season crop, taking 110 to 120 days to mature but they can take the cold with no problem, so you can plant them in early May and leave them in the ground through the fall. The longer you leave them, the sweeter they become.
I like them best in stew or roasted with other root vegetables on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. A great tip for roasting vegetables is to use parchment paper on the baking sheet, it makes cleanup much easier. Just about everything tastes better roasted.
Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County. Office phone numbers: Clinton County, 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; Franklin County, 483-7403. Website: www.cce.cornell.edu/ecgardening.