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Natural Awakenings

Locavore Resources: Enjoy Fresh Grown Foods

Jul 01, 2010 03:00AM

What's Growing in Your Region?

Slow Food, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to “good, clean and fair food,” has created an American Ark of Taste, its list of regional foods. Backyard entries include the granite beauty apple from New Hampshire, green striped cushaw [squash] from Tennessee, hand-harvested wild rice from Minnesota, Four Corners gold bean from Colorado, Padre plum from California and Alaskan birch syrup.

To find local farms and producers, visit:  

Extending the Season


Farmers and gardeners in every region have ways to extend the growing season. Kitchen gardeners have used cloches (glass bells put over tender plants to ward off the cold), cold frames (south-facing raised beds protected against the cold) and greenhouses. Many organic farmers now use poly-tunnels (which function as portable greenhouses) that allow them to get crops in the ground sooner and extend the end of the season.

We can also continue to savor seasonal bounty by preserving the harvest. Farm wives and gardeners who understand the realities of feast and famine, glut and scarcity turn excess yields into what they call “value-added products.” Cucumbers become pickles; basil mixes into pesto; tomatoes provide a base for salsa. They also freeze fresh, whole berries on cookie sheets, then move them to containers to store in the freezer. Local state agriculture extension services offer free detailed information about preserving foods.

Grow Your Own

The best terroir of all is our own garden. A fresh-picked tomato will convert even the most dedicated supermarket shopper every time. A state agricultural extension agent or local master gardener will know what grows best in area gardens.

Consider growing heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables for greater flavor and color. A good resource is Seeds Savers Exchange (, a northern Iowa farm that acts as a collective for members who use and save thousands of varieties of seeds. Its yearbook lists member gardeners and their comments on their success with various types of plants.

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