• 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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Publishers' Note Winter 2015

Mr. G.W. Clarke coming to town to sell butter on a Saturday in the winter of 1939, Woodstock, Vermont.
Mr. G.W. Clarke coming to town to sell butter on a Saturday in the winter of 1939, Woodstock, Vermont.

Written on

November 16 , 2014

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!

But at this time of year, we also like to look back and reflect on the lessons our garden was kind enough to let us in on. Here are just a few.

It will never cease to astound us that in every seed, no matter the size—from tiny arugula to seemingly giant beans—there is an entire biological instruction manual to produce an adult plant. And that if we tend to the seed’s needs, it will do its part—sometimes. This has taught us that there are so many things beyond our control, that our influence is limited. We’ve learned that the vegetables we pick to eat look very different than the ones we let grow and from which we harvest seeds. We have learned respect for the food we grow and that wasting even a bit is unthinkable. And we’ve learned that the promise of all those seed catalogs must be tempered with what is possible for our garden and for us. As Wendell Berry says, “We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” We’re learning to plan our garden to meet our needs. Most of all, we’ve learned that we’ll continue to keep learning, and that this powerful lure draws us back again and again.

Three stories in this issue also highlight the fact that, when we work land, and work with animals, we always continue to learn. In this article, Katie Spring notices—during a day of processing chickens—that she has come to use the words harvest and process in place of slaughter, and she wonders how wise that really is. And on a lighter note, Rose Paul learns firsthand about the delicacy that is fresh woodchuck, after she seeks to defend her backyard from this wiley garden predator. In this issue we also invite you to learn a bit about permaculture, about making jam, and about the state of bees in Vermont.

Another wonderful opportunity to learn and pick up skills comes at the Annual NOFA-VT Winter Conference that will be happening on February 14 and 15. At this two-day event there is something for everyone, from gardeners to seasoned farmers. We always look forward to seeing old friends, having good conversations, and sharing the time together.

Meg Lucas

Barbi Schreiber

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A quarterly magazine devoted to covering local food, sustainable farming, and the many people building the Vermont food system.

Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities. Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape is changing as the localvore movement shapes what is grown and raised here.

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