Winter (local food) Wonders

I started my last post stating that I’m not hibernating through the winter season.   Well, neither are farmers nor farmers’ markets.  (I think one of the questions that farmers find most irritating is “So, how do you keep busy in the winter?” But I digress…)   A number of recent conversations have turned to local and seasonal food, with folks asking with surprise how I get myself through the winter in Toronto on local food.  (I definitely don’t eat local food exclusively, though I do try to eat locally – and therefore seasonally – as much as possible.)  Though many farmers’ markets do close for the winter, a number of markets stay open year-round.  (Wychwood Green Barns, Brickworks, Dufferin Grove and Sorauren are a few Toronto markets that are open all year.)  And eating local food in the winter does not mean only eating potatoes and carrots.

Beautiful colourful carrots, available year-round at Toronto markets.

There’s a pretty big variety of produce at the markets, even now in mid-February: yes, potatoes and carrots, but also sweet potatoes, beets, radishes, leeks, sprouts/shoots, apples, pears, cabbages, mushrooms, sunchokes, onions, shallots, garlic, squash, dried beans, celeriac, rutabagas…  There are also lots of preserves and dried foods available at the markets.  And delicious cheese, yogurt, and baked goods. And eggs and meat.

Of course there are other ways to ensure having local food in the winter.  Canning is something I have not yet ventured into, but I definitely freeze lots of summer yummies (tomatoes, basil, zucchini, rhubarb, kale, berries….) and dry lots of herbs and hot peppers.  Sprouting is another easy option for home-grown winter food.

Curing squash for winter storage, at Wooler Dale Farm.

Well, I just wanted to share that there is a lot going on in the world of local food, even in the winter months.  Also, keep your eyes and ears open for “Seedy Saturday” events coming up, where you can start acquiring seeds and dreaming of the growing season to come.  (For Toronto Seedy Saturday events, check out the Toronto Community Garden Network’s website.)

Happy growing!


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