The temps are dropping and there are preliminary reports that we could be in for another nasty winter. Unlike most CSAs or farmers markets, Hometown Harvest commits to providing fresh produce year-round, so how do we offer local food in the winter time? That is a great question, and one that I have been asked over and over. When we first started Hometown Harvest 6 years ago, it was honestly a struggle. A few farmers extended their season with row covers, and even fewer with hoop houses, but offering local foods in the winter was simply not something that could be done sustainably due to low resources.
Over the last 6 years, we have built some great relationships with some great farmers. Every year around this time, we sit down with our growers to discuss the upcoming season. Part of those discussions now include what can be planted in the mid to late fall to grow for Hometown Harvest customers during the winter. Your support has made it possible for more and more area growers to invest in season-extending, sustainable methods. With winter on our minds, we have just begun a partnership with a new kind of grower: Larry Gude.
His family has been in the greenhouse business here in Middleton, Md for 125 years. Historically, his family has raised flowers for independent garden shops including larger box stores like Home Depot. Unfortunately the risk, cost, and margins in that business got to a breaking point, and Larry simply could not continue. After some months, Larry has began to switch his operation from growing “big box” flowers to growing organic food.
This past Monday was an exciting day, as Hometown Harvest picked up our first batch of lettuce mix from Larry, marking his first sale in this exciting new direction for his greenhouses.
We are pretty excited also, because as you can see, Larry has a quite a bit of lettuce varieties to offer and plenty more to come. In addition to lettuces, Larry is working on herbs, arugula, spinach, brussels sprouts, and several different types of kales.
The kale is being grown in a super cool way. He plants them in flower baskets, then hangs the baskets on a track that rotates around the greenhouse. The track even has automatic irrigation to ensure the kale is kept well watered and in ideal growing conditions.
So even though the Farmers Almanac might be calling for a colder and snowy winter, our local food forecast is looking pretty good this winter.