It’s finally summer in New Hampshire! I don’t know about you, but I have been not-so-patiently awaiting the bounty of the local harvests, which have been slow to make their appearance due to a cool, wet spring and early summer.
As much as possible, I shift my purchasing to support local farms during the growing season. Not only does this practice make sense from an ecological standpoint, by cutting down on food spoilage related to transportation and greenhouse gas emissions, but it also truly strengthens our local food economy. And, a vibrant, healthy local food system helps to ensure stability and sustainability of food production in our region — which is a good thing.
While the growing season is relatively short in New England, there are still abundant fruits and vegetables available locally, thanks to the hard work of dedicated farmers in our area. I, personally, am immensely grateful for these good people who have chosen to work the land for their livelihood. I am not so inclined and, frankly, have never really even had a successful garden (I know, I did just admit that). I still hold out hope that I will one day have abundant harvests in my own yard, but until that day comes I will do my best to support those who actually DO harvest the foods that I can purchase for my family.
So what, you may ask, is actually in season and available locally? I’m so glad you asked! Here is a nifty little chart from the University of New Hampshire’s Extension Office that shows crops and their harvest season. I find this helpful in calibrating my expectations for local produce.
Of course, at Monadnock Food Co-op, we partner with local farms as much as possible to bring in their produce in season. This is a priority for us and is one of our primary Ends. In addition to what you will find in our cases, there are abundant Farmers’ Markets, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), and farms that have pick-your-own options in the area. A nice collection of where to find local farms can be found on the Local Harvest website. This is a great resource, because you can search in any location for farms (I actually used this to check out the local food scene in the Keene area before we moved here).
Alas, it is July – and July means BLUEBERRIES. I have family coming to visit next week and I will certainly be taking them out to Monadnock Berries to load up on fresh, local, yum-tastic blueberries. I will pick and pick and pick, then take those beautiful blue gems home, freeze most of them on cookie sheets in the freezer, and delight in knowing that I have a supply of delicious blueberries to last through most of the winter.
Be sure to practice up on learning what is local and in season now, because August is NH Eat Local Month!