Six ways to eat local throughout the winter

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine

It is possible to stick with your local eating principles throughout New England winters. It just takes some creative planning, a willingness to eat a bit with the seasons, a touch of culinary curiosity, and a sense of adventure.

Eating local is good for the environment, the economy, and your health. While nothing can replicate the peak of summer’s harvest season, you can still find ways to incorporate food that was grown or raised nearby onto your plate. Here are a few tips to try this year:

1. Winter Farmer’s Markets Winter Farmer’s Markets are increasing in popularity throughout New England. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have one down the street, or maybe there is one just within a distance you’re willing to drive. You’d be amazed by the collection of farmers and craft food makers that can be found at Winter Farmers Markets — and by the number of people flocking to them. They’re like supermarkets of freshness in the middle of our frozen tundra. Find one near you at

2. CSA Winter Shares Nowadays, farms are going beyond their typical summer CSA shares. Through Community Supported Agriculture sign-ups, you pay up front for a season’s worth of produce. The farm distributes your share at a pickup location where other shareholders gather to pick up their monthly haul, too. This system allows farmers to plan ahead and you to learn how to enjoy new vegetables that might not be in your regular cooking repertoire. Find a local CSA:

3. Preserving If you plan ahead when the harvest is at its zenith, you can collect your favorite fresh fruits and vegetables and prepare them to be ready just when you need them most. When there’s a few feet of snow on the ground, there really is nothing better than digging into a bowl of canned pears that taste as fresh as the day they were picked, or unzipping a frozen bag of cherry tomatoes to use as a homemade pizza topping. Whether you’re more interested in canning (, dehydrating (, or freezing (search “freezing fresh produce” at — or willing to try a little of each — you can put together a larder that would have made your great, great grandmother proud.

4. Grow indoors If you’re a gardener who enjoys growing many of your summer vegetables by seed, you may already have grow lights for seed starting that can be used to keep a few flats of lettuce happy throughout the winter. Or, if you have a window that gets even a few hours of sunlight, you can keep a container of herbs ready for dinnertime. Learn how to get started:

5. Grow outside You’d be shocked how well some cold season vegetables can do if protected from the elements. You could be collecting kale on New Year’s Day or pulling up carrots on Super Bowl Sunday. There is a wide spectrum of options you can choose from, including a full greenhouse, a hoop house, a plastic cover for a raised bed, or a cold frame. Learn more about winter gardening by searching

6. Store the bounty If you have a garage, cool basement, or large shed, you can collect all manner of winter squash to last until spring. Consider starting with enough to use one per week. Those thick skinned oddballs you see cropping up more often at your local farm stand are built to last. You’ll want your space to be not too cold, not too hot, and away from light. You’ll be eating fresh squash — grown in your area — with dinner in March. Here’s a primer:

Robert Burgess is the public relations coordinator at Tower Hill Botanic Garden and a suburban homesteader.