How to Love Local All Year Long

There’s no question that sourcing your groceries from local farmers, butchers, fishers and artisans has myriad benefits for your body, the planet and the community because of the reduced environmental footprint, often reduced the use of pesticides and support of local producers. Buying local is easy during the spring and summer months when farmers markets set up shop in communities across the Lower Mainland, and leafy greens, voluptuous berries and fragrant herbs are in abundance. But come fall and winter, accessing local goods can be more of a challenge.

Here, Natalie Forstbauer, an organic farmer and author, shares her tips for loving local 365 days a year. To speak with Forstbauer and other farmers in person, visit the farmers’ markets in West Vancouver, Burnaby and Lonsdale Quay every May to October where you’ll find crafts, produce and other edibles brought to you locally by the non-profit Artisan Farmers’ Markets Society.

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  1. Stock up on hearty produce. Before summer farmers markets come to a close in October, buy large quantities of items with longevity that will keep well into the cooler months. “Pick up a 25-pound bag of carrots, potatoes, onions, or apples to store in a cold room or at the bottom of the fridge,” advises Forstbauer. Winter squash is also another good one to stock up on because it will often last for months on the table displayed in a bowl.

  2. Grow your own year-round garden. It doesn’t get more local than your home kitchen! Try planting a small winter salad herb basket that you place on your windowsill to soak in the mid-winter sunshine, suggests Forstbauer. You can even grow a year-round garden from kitchen scraps; for example, put the last 3 cm of green onion stems and roots into a glass of water, and watch it grow!

  3. Shop the winter markets. Artisan Farmers Markets are open from spring until mid-fall. The rest of the year, farmers’ markets in New Westminster, Port Moody, Squamish, and Vancouver are open to serve customers seasonal items including kale, chard, carrots, squash, beets, potatoes, frozen berries, frozen meats, and preserved foods. You can also make a point of seeking out local produce at the grocery store.

  4. Preserve fruits and veggies at their peak. Berries, orchard fruit, tomatoes and onions are just a few of the items that can be canned, dried, frozen and stewed at the height of the season, to be enjoyed all year round. Imagine tasting the flavour of a sun-ripened Okanagan peach in the middle of January as you bite into a homemade Peach Crisp.

    Natalie Forstbauer’s recipe for Simple Harvest Soup is ideal for either preserving summer’s vegetables, or enjoying fall’s harvest:

Simple Harvest Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium/large onion, diced

  • 4 to 6 cloves finely chopped garlic

  • 3 to 4 medium carrots, diced

  • 2 to 4 stalks of celery, diced (include the leaves)

  • 1 small winter squash cubed (about 1 to 2 pounds) You may have to peel it; ask the farmer

  • 1 to 3 large potatoes, diced

  • 1 bunch finely chopped kale

  • 1 large tomato, diced (optional)

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt to taste

  • 1 4-inch sprig thyme, or 1 to 2 tbsp. dried thyme (optional)

Instructions

  1. Chop the vegetables into bite-size pieces and place in a large pot.

  2. Fill the pot with water (6 cups or so to cover the veggies, plus a bit extra). Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve soup with salt and pepper to taste, or with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream and your favourite farmers market hot sauce. To complete the meal, add fresh farmers’ market bread from A Bread Affair or Gesundheit Bakery.

Burnaby Artisan Farmers’ Market is open on Saturdays from May to October with fresh and local produce, preserves, treats and great artisan gifts! Learn more at www.artisanmarkets.ca. Follow them on Facebook for their Saturday 9:30 am Facebook Live. You can also find them on Instagram and Twitter

#BCBuyLocal. Supported by the Government of BC’s Buy Local Program; delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.

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