By Laura Seleski
My grandmother recently told me this story of her childhood during the Chicago winters during the mid-20th century. She expressed it as a sad time; fruits and vegetables were scarce and expensive. When Christmas came around she was excited to receive an orange in her stocking for a bite of sweet freshness. We now live in a time when you can rely on “fresh” favorites to be available year round.
As temperatures dip and glistening frost coats the farm our field production slows and our attention turns to our two hoop houses. Hoop houses amplify heat from the sun and allow farms to extend their season throughout the winter as well as planting early in the spring. This winter our hoop houses are home to spinach, carrots, arugula, salad mix lettuce, kohlrabi, beets and scallions. Our Farmstand, which is open year round, offers these products alongside microgreens and storage crops such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, cabbage and winter squash.
A simple first step in releasing dependence on grocery store produce is making your local farm your first stop. Not only will you be able to check things off your list but you can reflect on what’s actually in season and if those South American strawberries in December are absolutely necessary. Not to worry, putting up strawberries for winter will be covered in our summer edition.
I hear the need for balance between convenience and practicality. Not everybody has a Saturday to can tomatoes, strawberry jam or make elderberry syrup. My honest go-to method this time of year is turning to the freezer. Putting food in a Ziploc, container or vacuum sealed, whole or prepared is better than throwing it in the garbage or compost. This time of year my focus turns to the storage crops that aren’t available in spring or summer. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and squash can all be grated, cubed and chopped, then frozen into portion size bags or containers to use in future meals. Having hash browns in May from the previous year’s potatoes is a real treat. If you’re looking for something green and fresh, microgreens will satiate and satisfy your craving. Replacing the standard salad green with sweet pea microgreens is an absolute delight.
In the Midwest the tempo of winter can feel slow and unending. This is the time to relax, slow down, share space and time with loved ones and eat love filled food. Below are some of our favorite recipes to enjoy and share.
Click on the recipe title below to open the recipe.
Laura Seleski joined the Gwenyn Hill team in 2022 and is part of the Organic Vegetable Farm Manager (OVFM) Apprenticeship program. Her journey back to the land has brought her many places, all of which are centered around building healthy communities and cultivating the land out of gratitude.
Laura believes that having knowledge of where, how, and by whom your food is being produced gives a greater connection to this world we call home and the abundance given if we take care of it. She decided the OVFM apprenticeship was her next step to learn how to steward the land honestly and respectfully, and to responsibly serve her broader community.