• Publishers' Note Winter 2015

    Publishers' Note Winter 2015

    They’ve already started to arrive in the mailbox: seed catalogs, with their glorious photos and wonderful illustrations, calling to us, announcing the promise of a future garden—and of spring. We’re in!

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  • Set the Table with Homemade Local Baby Food

    Set the Table with Homemade Local Baby Food

    Many of us spend the fall preserving the local flavors of the harvest season. Squash, apples, beets, carrots, and the year’s final greens are cellared, canned, and frozen. But the anticipated addition to our family of a new little one has me preserving these foods in a new way: as homemade baby food.

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  • “Don’t Waste that Woodchuck…”

    “Don’t Waste that Woodchuck…”

    That’s what I told friends for two weeks after feasting on woodchuck stew. Don’t waste your pesky garden woodchuck—eat it!

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  • Permaculture: Taking the Long View

    Permaculture: Taking the Long View

    In 1974, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren published Permaculture One: A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements. The charismatic Mollison then threw himself into traveling and teaching Permaculture Design Certificate courses, known in the lingo as “The PDC,” while Holmgren and his partner, Su Dennett, dedicated decades of their lives to restoring the blackberry-covered wasteland on a one-hectare property in central Australia.

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  • The State of the Bees

    The State of the Bees

    Winter is a great time to cozy up next to the wood stove with a mug of honey tea and read about bees. My own honeybees are snug in their beehives, but they’re probably not reading. They’ve formed a tight, buzzing cluster that keeps the colony remarkably warm even during the coldest winter nights.

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  • Farming and Parenting

    Farming and Parenting

    Farming isn’t a job—it’s a lifestyle. While most people have a job that is away from their home and family, farmers often don’t. Their farm is their home (ideally), and if they have kids, those kids are part of their work (often). One could argue that the busiest people in the world are farmers and parents. For those who are both, how do they manage?

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  • Ode on a Glass Jar

    Ode on a Glass Jar

    As a farmer, I’ve become a collector of vegetables. But as we all know, vegetables cannot last forever. That is, unless you put them in a jar with some salt, a sprinkling of peppercorns, and a few cloves of garlic. Pickling is an essential way for us to eat from our gardens while the plants sleep beneath snow. But for me, pickling’s greatest joy is this: It gives me an excuse to use my jars.

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  • All Hands on Deck

    All Hands on Deck

    As a farmer, I’ve become a collector of vegetables. But as we all know, vegetables cannot last forever. That is, unless you put them in a jar with some salt, a sprinkling of peppercorns, and a few cloves of garlic. Pickling is an essential way for us to eat from our gardens while the plants sleep beneath snow. But for me, pickling’s greatest joy is this: It gives me an excuse to use my jars.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Jam with Character

    Farmers' Kitchen—Jam with Character

    Do you ever wonder why fruit grown in Vermont—on your own trees, vines, and shrubs—tastes so amazing? The king and queen of Atlantis didn’t get anything close to this. Well, maybe.

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  • Farmer Wordplay: Harvest vs. Slaughter

    Farmer Wordplay: Harvest vs. Slaughter

    With both hands, I reach into the crate of chickens. “I’m sorry!” I say to the chicken as it flaps in my less-than-confident grasp. The butcher just showed me how to properly handle a bird: two hands on their legs, chest down, and pick up. They won’t flap this way. I put the bird’s chest on the ground until it calms and hand it to the butcher.

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Farmers' Kitchen—Jam with Character

David Fried
David Fried of Elmore Roots

Written By

David Fried

Written on

November 17 , 2014

Do you ever wonder why fruit grown in Vermont—on your own trees, vines, and shrubs—tastes so amazing? The king and queen of Atlantis didn’t get anything close to this. Well, maybe.

There is something about homegrown. In Vermont, the plants have to make it through a long and cold winter. Because they don’t have the easiest soils or the most accommodating climate, they have to work harder, and they end up coming out with more flavor. Like the people who live here. Vermonters have character.

A wise man told me that sometime in February, a fruit tree is about to give up, because it’s so cold. But then an angel whispers to it: ”Hold on, spring is coming.” The tree soon feels its sap, its life juices starting to flow again. Some trees start praying, not only to make it through the winter, but also to make the sweetest fruit. That’s why some apples taste so good and some just okay. I guess in Vermont our trees do a lot of praying.

At our certified organic farm and nursery, we’ve been testing what we can grow and harvest for 35 years. Since we’re up in Elmore, we are setting an example of what the possibilities are. The ones that make it, we learn how to make more of, so that everyone can have them in their yards. You might be surprised that pears, plums, grapes, and northern kiwis are some of the easiest fruits to grow—you just have to have the right selections. We also plant and harvest hazelnuts, black walnuts, and pine nuts. I have seen 43 below zero on the thermometer at our farm and all of these fruits and nuts thrive here anyway.

When I hiked the Long Trail in 1979, I lived off fruits along the way. I thought it would be awesome to surround myself with them at my own place, so over the years the Elmore Roots crew and I have followed the dream. Are you wondering which fruit I like best? It’s whichever one that is northern-Vermont-sun-ripened and in my hand right now.

In addition to selling fruit trees, berry plants, and flowering shrubs, we make jam from our fruit. A couple of years ago we grew ginger outdoors and combined it with our pears and apples. It came out as a really tasty jam. Here is our recipe.

About the Author

David Fried

David Fried

David Fried is the dreamer-poet and founder of Elmore Roots Nursery in Elmore. He has a wife and two daughters, and roughly 50,000 young fruit and nut trees that he raised are now growing throughout Vermont.

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Home Stories Issues 2015 Winter 2015 | Issue 31 Farmers' Kitchen—Jam with Character