Fall is an interesting, wonderful, transitional time for food. Switching from light summer fruits and veggies like zucchini, berries and watermelon and moving towards rich, hearty sweet potatoes, kale and apples makes the change in seasons even more tangible.
In order for this produce to switch over from perfect-for-salads to perfect-for-stews, there’s a whole lot of work that needs to be done on our local farms. Growing season is one thing, but prepping for the winter is another whole animal.
We chatted with our local community farm, Waltham Fields Community Farm, about what they’re doing to prepare for winter. Right now, they’re in the midst of sowing cover crops to replenish nutrients in the soil.
“Cover crops are a mix of plants that are grown to be cut down and turned under as a way to replenish and supply valuable nutrients back into the soil for future crop use,” the farmers explained. “We are currently using mixes of oats and peas, and rye and vetch, for our cover crops. They will provide a fertility boost and add organic matter to the soil.”
Cover crops are sometimes called “green manure” and are considered an example of an organic gardening process. Luckily, this method isn’t exclusive to larger farms… it can be used on small backyard gardens as well!
The farmers welcome this change in season happily and love all the new produce that comes with it. “While summer seems like the time for leafy greens, many greens are at their best after a cold snap helps convert some of their starches to sugars. Hearty greens such as kale, collards, beet greens and mustard greens are really good right now,” they explained. They also highlighted winter squashes and sweet potatoes as stand-outs for October.
In terms of their favorite recipes, the farmers at Waltham Fields Community Farm believe in simplicity. “It really is true that fresh vegetables taste amazing when treated simply,” they said. They recommend roasting root vegetables with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary as a simple yet delicious weekly dish. They’ll often add broccoli florets, cauliflower and watermelon radishes (gorgeously colored veggies with a tie-dye appeal, pictured above) to the mix as well.
“Staff have been enjoying cauliflower ‘steaks’ (lots of recipes online) and making pesto with fennel fronds and walnuts. We also make hearty soups made of squash, or leeks and potatoes,” they said, offering up a couple more fall ideas. “Our Executive Director recently brought to share a sweet potato pie she made that was savory, not sweet – it was delicious, with a hint of citrus flavor.”
Wondering what the farmers do in the winter? They take a well-deserved vacation! There are also days of planning, hiring and assessing successes and doubts from the previous growing season. Their winter season isn’t too long, however… seedlings begin to be sowed for next season in February or March.
Want to learn more? If you’re in the area, come check out their Harvest Potluck & Annual Meeting on Thursday, November 13th. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate the year’s successful harvest.
If you aren’t in Massachusetts, you can always check out their website… Waltham Fields Community Farm is doing some amazing things for the local community!
Friday, October 24th is National Food Day, a day celebrating real, whole food and the power it can have to create community and improve health. Learn more on their website, and be sure to celebrate the whole month long!