Local Food All Winter

Tomatoes! Garlic! Chicken Stock!

And that’s just the beginning


Eli with cheese squash

The author, Eli, here with cheese squash.

At the Village Terraces common kitchen we haven’t stopped eating a diet based on local foods just because it’s February.  In fact, we’re practically swimming in foods from our farm, Imani, other farms and forests at Earthaven, as well as regional farms and orchards. Our winter pantry goes way beyond cabbage and potatoes.

Imagine this recent meal—sautéed beef (from an Imani steer), home canned tomato sauce (Imani) with peppers (Imani), garlic  and basil (VT garden co-op), and onions (Gateway Farm at EH) served with cornbread made from a neighbor’s homegrown and ground cornmeal and milk and eggs from our farm, and collard greens fresh from our garden. For dessert? Blackberries from a local U-pick farm (via our freezer) and homemade raw yogurt from our cow’s milk. All that hard work this past year is definitely paying off.

An inventory of our pantry: Canned tomato sauce, blackberry jam,

Boxes of stored grapefruit and apples, both from the Southeast.

strawberry jam, and chicken stock. Dried summer squash, tomatoes, strawberries, and juneberries. Onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, apples, and a large variety of winter squash. For nutritional and medicinal teas- dried nettle, raspberry leaf, dandelion, comfrey, red clover, catnip, and peppermint.  Sauerkraut, Kimchi, apple cider vinegar made from cider we pressed ourselves including some garlic and herb infused vinegars. Honey, berries preserved in honey and whiskey (ok, the whiskey came all the way from Kentucky, but we do made certain concessions), dried mushrooms and burdock. Right outside the kitchen door the rosemary, sage,  and oregano live on and about twenty feet away there are still a few surviving kale and collard plants.

Peppermint, Catnip, & Raspberry leaf, harvested to use all winter as tea.

In our freezer we keep strawberries, blackberries, juneberries, and basil as well as beef and pork from our farm and venison from the region. We daily get eggs from our chickens and milk from our cow which in addition to fresh drinking goodness we also use to make raw yogurt and cheese. And while they aren’t actually local we are devouring and loving the cases and cases of citrus I purchased at a Florida farmer’s market while I was in Gainesville visiting my grandmother in December.

I fondly remember sweating in the July heat of the tomato field, collecting

Lee stirring a pot of chicken stock made from our poultry and meat bones.

those first spring nettles in the forest garden, staying up late into the night to can stock, handing over LEAPS (our local currency) in exchange for Gateway squash,  the group work day in the fall to put in the garden co-op’s garlic crop and the most abundant fruit year I can remember.  And I am eagerly looking forward to those first wild spring greens and the strawberries I can see out my bedroom window.

I have always been passionate about food, and since I’ve been living atEarthaven ( 1 ½ years) I have been able to begin the lifelong journey and spiritual practice of being an active participant in growing, gathering and otherwise obtaining my nutrients. Finally, providing my food and living my daily life are becoming intertwined.

Garlic harvesting day!

Debbie and Steve digging up garlic. Photo by Martha.

Garlic is one of the highest value plants we grow in our Village Terraces neighborhood garden – it’s one of the few things everyone eats and is expensive to buy. I especially enjoy that we plant the bulbs in the fall when it’s cool and other gardening tasks have slowed down, and then the new garlic shoots are the first green and growing inhabitants of the spring garden – well before we’ve organized to plant anything else. Other than a couple weedings, they don’t take much care.

This summer started out with some rain and we’ve had dry weather for most of the past three weeks – excellent garlic weather! The bulbs actually went past ripe before we noticed.

Jonathan and Liz with half the harvested garlic. Photo by Martha.

This morning I went out to harvest them before they stayed in the ground another hot day. Steve, Jonathan, and Liz were in the kitchen considering what farm task the could do together for the morning and came out to help. Marie noticed the activity and joined the party.

After three hours of working together we have enough garlic for the whole neighborhood for the upcoming year curing in our woodshed.