(This post was originally published in March, 2011.)
It is freezing as I write today, but that hasn’t stopped me from gazing out on our future garden spot and visualizing the raised beds full of lettuce, zucchini, herbs and tomatoes. Winter still has a few more weeks to rage and blow before it gives way to spring, however, one can’t help but think about pending arrival of fresh greens and tender fruits.
April is a good time to start making plans for how you will source your summer produce. If you live in the city, now is the time to sign up for a spot in the community gardens. If you are more rural, you should be putting in a seed order right about now. Not into gardening, but want farm fresh vegetables? Then perhaps you should be calling around and getting your name on a list for a CSA basket.
The first crisp asparagus spears and strong rhubarb shoots will be poking up through the ground before you know it. Here are seven ways to source your summer produce that don’t involve a shopping cart and a supermarket.
Seven ways to source your summer produce
1. Backyard Garden
We are planning to raise the majority of our produce this summer, making good use of the raised beds that Danny built.
Whether you have a large plot or a few planters on a balcony, nothing tastes as good as home grown fruits and vegetables.
- Starting A Garden With Repurposed Materials :: The Art of Simple
- When to Start Your Seedlings Indoors :: Food for My Family
- Heirloom Seeds: What They Are and Why I Think You Should Grow Them :: The Art of Simple
- How to Grow Your Own Indoor Culinary Herb Garden
2. Community Garden
Are you an urban dweller with a penchant for getting your hands dirty? A local community garden might suit you very well and provide you with leafy greens and herbs all summer long. Act fast, though; the plots are usually snatched up quickly and there is often a waiting list.
- Community Gardens: What They Are, How to Find Them and Why You Might Consider Joining One :: The Art of Simple
- Community Garden.org
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): A “subscription” service of fruits and veggies, purchased directly from the farm on a regular basis, and sometimes even delivered to your front door. Hurry, farmers are gearing up for planting and some have a cut-off date to sign up for their baskets.
4. Farmer’s Markets and city open air markets
We’re lucky to have fantastic markets in Montreal. The closest is a mere ten minutes away from me, which came in pretty handy last June when I hosted my family reunion and we were going through a flat of strawberries a day.
5. Roadside Stand
There are at least three fruit & vegetable stands along the short drive to my son’s school. They are owned and operated by local farms and provide fresh-picked produce daily. I’m a frequent shopper from the day they open to the day they close. I don’t always have room in my refrigerator for a dozen ears of corn or a giant watermelon, so I like to buy what I need for the day and no more.
If you’re traveling out of the city, keep your eyes peeled for those handmade signs that boast ‘farm fresh eggs’ and the dusty kiosks that sell the sweetest strawberries. Ask for pointers from people who know the area well, and take the scenic route once in a while – you never know what you may stumble upon.
When time affords it, we head directly to the farms to get our strawberries, raspberries, apples and pumpkin. Produce doesn’t get any fresher and it makes for a fun family outing.
- Pick Your Own
- Eat Wild: a state-by-state directory of farms
- Eat Well Guide :: farms, markets & sustainable restaurants in North America
- (in Quebec) Autocueillette et achetez à la ferme
7. Urban Foraging
Nope, this isn’t dumpster-diving, but a recent movement to harvest the neglected fruit from public urban areas. You may be surprised at the bounty found in city parks, alleyways and river banks.
These sites have it down to a science.
Sowing a garden? Signing up for CSA? How will you source your produce this summer? I’d love to hear!