Earth Day Coming Up

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Earth Day has evolved for me over the years.  I used to spend my time cleaning out my flower beds.  I’ve planted trees, shrubs, and flowers on this day.  This year I seem to be on a mission to augment as much of my food supply as I can with things that I’ve grown.  This Earth Day week will be spent in prep for the vegetable and fruit growing season.  Seeds will be started and although it seems late to some I can’t plant ANYTHING until Memorial Day in Rowe.  There is still snow on the ground and the entire back forty was completely frosted this morning.

I want everyone to know the feeling you have when you eat or serve a meal with food that you have grown.  You know everything about this food.  You may have nurtured it from seeds or have seen it eating grass on a sunny hill.  You have watered and fed and cooed over these plants and animals.  You have planned and brought these home grown ingredients together into something that is fabulously delicious in its own time.

Years ago (really not that many) people ate what was in season.  You didn’t eat tomatoes in January unless they were the “hot house” variety that completely lacked in both taste and nutrition.  Vegetables were not flown in from Argentina or California during the winter. The cycle of meals had everything to do with what was ripe at the time or food that you had put up and was in your cellar or freezer.  Growing up I remember my aunt and cousins staying with us when the garden was really beginning to produce.  For lunch each day there would be sandwiches made with the freshest of tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.  A platter just laid out with the bounty of summer, a taste that can not be replicated in any way other than to pick the produce, slice it up and eat it within minutes. I understand what it’s like to share the food that I have grown with the people I love.  Hard work goes into it but it’s worth it when you see the look on someones face that is eating a particular plant for the first time or an old familiar one that tastes completely different because it is so fresh.

This year I think everyone should at least put a tomato plant in a pot of soil on their patio or steps or yard.  Throw in a few basil seeds for good measure.  This is sooo inexpensive to do and you will be paid back ten fold in something that you can not buy, the true taste of summer.

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Thinking Local

Yarn

A couple of days ago I received an order for yarn from Green Mountain Spinnery.  Until I read the tag I had no idea that they were in Putney, VT which is about 45 miles from Rowe.  They are a co-op and spin the majority of their yarn from New England fleeces.  This is for a project I will be doing in a knit-along with Ruth Fischer-Ticknor.  You can read about it on her Counting Sheep blog.  It is a beautiful yarn.

As I was winding the skeins into balls I started thinking about having a garment made from wool that was processed so close to home.  I’ve gradually become more of a locavore in the past few years and have begun to see that mindset seep into everything I do.  I grow and preserve a lot of food from my garden every year.  I get all of my dairy from Smyth’s Trinity Farm in Enfield, CT where I can talk cheese making with someone who works with dairy on a larger scale. We buy a side of beef from Russell in Heath once a year – grass, sunshine, fresh water, nothing else goes into these cows. We also make our own maple syrup with him.  My eggs come from my sister next door where I’ve watched those hens from hatchlings.  Our sausages, bacon and other assorted smoked meats come from Pekarski’s in South Deerfield. Mike Pekarski is a very generous man and rightfully proud of his smokehouse – he will tell or show me how things are made, right there, with the help of his family.  In the summer there are a few farms that I frequent for pick your own produce that augments what I am putting up at the time. Although the farmers there don’t know me by name they instantly recognize me when I arrive.   I thought, until I started writing this, that it was more important to know how far my food had travelled but I now realize that I have friendships that have been built over time with all of the people who are raising much of my food.

Preparing and eating food that you trust gives you a peace of mind that is difficult to really describe.  There is nothing that makes me feel better than to prepare a meal where I know where everything came from, I’ve visited its source, I know who’s hands have been on it.  I know that if I didn’t grow it myself I have contributed to the livelihood of people that have become my friends or have been for a long time.  By doing that I am contributing to my local economy.  So I try to get what I need within the 100 mile radius that is often talked about.   Purchasing fiber that I needed for a project from less than 100 miles away made me feel that there are so many other ways I can think about being local.  I personally know at least 3 people that are raising fiber animals.  Although I didn’t buy their fiber I know that I am still contributing to their type of local economy as well.  Yes, things cost a little more but doesn’t it feel better when you know that the money you are spending is going directly into the pockets of people you know rather than some huge corporation with the farmer essentially getting paid just enough to keep going? It’s worth thinking about.

This is my 100th post!  Thank you so much to all who read, follow and comment on it.