February 25, 2013

Maple a North Country treasure

It’s the time of the year when our local growers are gearing up for warmer days. 

Some are already producing crops in their hoop houses, harvesting early, cold-hardy greens. Others are selling root crops, meat, eggs, dairy and value-added items such as jams, jellies and dried herbs. 

On our farm, we’re still enjoying a wealth of stored summertime goodness: canned tomatoes, pickles and dilly beans as well as frozen broccoli, spinach, asparagus, green beans and peppers. Little packets of frozen pesto are tucked in one corner. Plenty of roasting chickens fill a second freezer — they will last until next October when the next batch matures. Our root cellar is still piled high with potatoes (both sweet and regular), onions and squash. Our spare refrigerator holds crisp beets, carrots, rutabagas, cabbages and leeks as well as an abundance of eggs; our hens are now laying enthusiastically in response to the lengthening days. 

We feel so lucky to be able to enjoy all this local food year-round — there’s something very satisfying in preparing a meal, in the middle of the winter, in which nearly everything came from our garden or another farm in the near vicinity. I want to encourage you to use as much locally produced food as possible this year. You can do it; there are more farmers markets than ever, and community-supported agriculture is expanding. 

Plan to attend “Food from the Farm” from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the Plattsburgh City Gym. You can sign up for a community-supported agriculture program, sample plenty of local food, and get excited about the approaching growing season. 

Eating local is good for your health and strengthens our regional economy.

Another reason to celebrate this time of year is the impending arrival of a real local-food treasure: maple syrup. New York is the world’s third-largest producer of maple syrup, and the industry is expanding. It’s a tremendous natural resource for the North Country and a delicious local sweetener. 

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