A blog by and for lovers of local foods

Winter Gardening

In Uncategorized on June 24, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Since we live and farm in this mild climate of Western Oregon, shouldn’t we be growing food year round?

Of course! What are we waiting for?

Well, we’re looking for a little advice, some seeds and some folks to nerd out on winter vegetables with us. We’ve got some ideas and are making some plans but we’d like to talk to the folks who are doing this fine thing of providing fresh food through the winter months.

We’ve just sown seeds for a fall crop of cabbages and for overwintering onions. We’ll be direct sowing parsnip, kale and rutabaga soon. We’d like to grow some brussels sprouts, too.

Any thoughts?

We’d love to hear ’em. Thank you! And Happy Solstice!

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‘Survival of the Fittest’: the eco-culture of integration

In Diet and Nutrition, Fruit and Nuts on January 19, 2010 at 8:12 pm

The blossoming of the ‘reinhabitory foodshed’ movement, hereabouts as elsewhere, corresponds to a seismic shift in cultural ecology. In a nutshell, the conception of ‘survival of the fittest’ is being radically re-envisioned, at a deeper more fundamental level, as a foundational resilience deriving from our ability to integrate with the mutually dependent processes we are nested within, our ability to ‘fit in.’ One word which describes the process in which we consciously deepen our engagement with the complex biological and cultural process we call life, by living our local landscape’s resources and associations from within, is ‘homecoming.’ ‘Eating locally’ is, of course, but one of the more notable characteristics of this inherently grassroots phenomenon.

Central to this foundational shift in personal and collective perception and experience is an acknowledgement that healthy people and landscapes are sustained not by the simple presence of individual elements such as soils, water, plants and people, but by the briskness and depth of the flows and interconnections between them. And where eco-cultural stewards among us observe entire ecosystems consisting of these synergistic (self-supporting, self-regulating, self-repairing, self-perpetuating) flows within particular animal, plant and other communities, nested within larger communities of synergies and so on, so they are attempting to imitate these integrative synergies by creating combinations of interrelationships that “click!” As it happens, these associations or “pockets of synergies” tend to coalesce around particular “keystone plants” – typically, trees.

Kyra and the Parsnip

In Diet and Nutrition, Recipes, Vegetables on December 21, 2009 at 1:50 pm

My daughter moved out of the house this past summer – on Independence Day, to be exact, which was a most auspicious date.  (Elin, dear, I can hear you all saying gently, this is a blog about food, not parenting issues.  I know, I know – bear with me and we’ll get to that).  Once I got over my initial shock that she was in fact old enough to have her own linen closet, I began to really enjoy seeing her spread her wings and set up shop for herself.  It was most revealing – what were the lessons and values that she had absorbed and taken with her from her original nest?

 As it turns out, one of the things she brought was a love of good food (see, I told you we’d get to the food part).  Not too long ago, she let me know that she had purchased a large parsnip at the Farmers Market, taken it home and roasted it with onions and garlic and bits of steak and all manner of tasty things.  And she posted this accomplishment on Facebook!  I take it as a personal triumph that my daughter, recently matriculated to the University of Oregon, is extolling the virtues of the humble parsnip on Facebook.

 In fact, the parsnip is one of the vegetables that were, collectively, the springboard for my book, Eating Close to Home:  A Guide to Local Seasonal Sustenance in the Pacific Northwest.  Some years ago, my husband and I were pondering whether it would in fact be possible for folks around here to feed themselves exclusively on local foods.  If they were to do so, I posited, someone would have to write a cookbook, as most people have no idea what to do with all those odd looking winter vegetables that used to see us all through the dark days.  Parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, celeriac, kohlrabi, and so forth.  Well, it is now more than five years later and I did in fact write a cookbook, and many more people know what to do with a parsnip.  In fact, parsnip recipes are popping up in the most unlikely places, such as gourmet foodie ‘zines such as Bon Apetit!  This is progress, folks!