Building Sustainable Communities
Veggie of the Month
As our communities continue to rebuild after Irene, it was a good reminder of how we need to be prepared if and when a similar event cuts us off from our food supply, most of which comes from across the country or over the seas. As we continue the clean up from the disaster, we need to support our local farmers and think about how our communities can be more food secure. Our local farms were hit particularly hard; some lost half to two-thirds of their crop, others lost everything.
One of the best ways for us to participate in the rebuilding process is by increasing our purchases of farm products and commit to buying more locally produced food in the months ahead. Some of us already grow food to preserve, but we can also look to purchase more from farmers to preserve or store through the winter. Their skills and efficiencies of scale allow them to easily grow a surplus. We can easily buy a 50 pound bag of potatoes to keep in a cool dry place. Our forefathers and mothers survived here by growing and preserving and storing food. Currently it isn’t a necessity, but with increased weather events, rising gas prices and questionable food safety, it seems like a good idea to relearn how to feed ourselves with what is relatively inexpensive and easy to grow here and store.
Post Oil Solutions, along with many others in the region and state, have been working hard to improve our local food system, especially through Farmers’ Markets, Farm to School programs and more. We are excited to launch a new collaborative marketing strategy: the Veggie of the Month! Join us in celebrating a vegetable every month: one that is in-season, delicious, and locally available. Whether you buy it directly from farmers weekly or at a supermarket once a month, we hope that everybody will celebrate the Veggie of the Month!
Some of the vegetables are common and we all know how to prepare and eat them, but do we know how we can preserve them for winter meals? Many of us don’t recognize some of the others and don’t know how to prepare them. This is how the veggie of the month gets fun. Each month, we are preparing educational materials so that you can learn more about the featured vegetable including information about growing, storing, preparing, cooking, etc. The winter months are usually when we stop thinking about fresh vegetables, but there is an abundance of delicious and nutritious food that our ancestors relied upon to survive the winter.
The Veggie of the month also presents an opportunity for all of us to improve our cooking skills and to learn how to prepare something new. Many of us are often perplexed when it comes time to plan and prepare yet another meal. The VOTM provides delicious recipes to make it easy and fun for all of us to use some locally produce as part of a meal. We encourage everybody to try something new just once a month. Some favorites from last winter include Chocolate Beet Cake, Rutabega Fries, and sauerkraut.
We are primarily focusing our outreach and efforts on school communities: teachers, parents, students, and food service. We also want to make sure that families are able to access the vegetables in a variety of ways throughout the community, so we hope that gleaned vegetables will be available through the Vermont Foodbank and food shelves and pantries.
Kids are at the heart of the VOTM. It takes trying foods many times before we are sure we like it and ask for it consistently. And we need to make sure that all our kids in school are getting the nutrition needed to be good students. So, every month kids will be eating it in the cafeteria, trying it in taste tests, learning about them in school gardens and classrooms, and hopefully convincing their parents to prepare it at home. The Windham County Farm to School Program of Post Oil Solutions is supporting schools with VOTM activities. Check your school menus to see how the committed school food service providers are using the VOTM and be sure to try it!
Join us in celebrating the Veggies of the Month at our Brattleboro Winter Farmers’ Market every Saturday at the River Garden starting Nov. 4th. Become a member of Post Oil Solutions and get a VOTM recipe in the member’s monthly newsletter, as well as other info about eating locally 12 months of the year.
VOTM are building blocks of sustainable communities. Broccoli is no exception!
Broccoli is the VOTM for October! Its high in vitamins, and proven to prevent diseases including some cancers. Not a fan? Try a nice fresh raw piece, or lightly steam it and add some butter! Kids like to dip it raw. Have abundance or know a farmer who does? Blanch it and freeze it for winter meals. It’s a great fall crop that can be planted mid-summer.
Help us support our local farmers by celebrating the Veggies of the Month! Visit windhamcountyfarmtoschool.org or postoilsolutions.org for more info.