LocalHarvest Newsletter, November 29, 2012

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

Here in the Midwest the harvest is in, at long last in my case. I spent Thanksgiving morning running between the stove and the garden, wanting to cut the last of the broccoli and chard quick before the thermometer dipped into the teens. A few squirrels ran up and down the trees near me as I bent over my plants, and I wondered if they, too, were saying, "Just a little bit more..."

I usually feel some pride in my squirrel-like tendencies. With Minnesota's long winters, producing a year's worth of food in a six-month growing season feels like a survival skill. My husband and I like the sense of security we get from going into the winter with a full larder. But it comes at a cost.

For many weeks now, the question of 'enough' has been swirling around my head like a fall wind. It trimmed my Thanksgiving menu to just our favorite things. "We don't need mashed potatoes or rolls; we have enough." And we did. It showed up again when my dad suggested we pare back our family's Christmas gift exchange. This too was an easy decision once I asked the question. "Do we need more stuff? No, we have enough." The place where I'm having real trouble seeing the line between plenty and excess is the garden.

We grow as much food as we possibly can, and buy more at the farmers market to preserve for winter. We like the work, mostly, and really appreciate having such intimacy with our food. But it has gotten to be too much. It feels like it's all we do. Every year we get ahead of ourselves in the spring and plant too much. Maybe we're afraid of running out; maybe that fear makes us a little greedy. Does a family of three really need 40 pepper plants? In any case, we only have so much time, and until now we have given an inordinate amount of it to the garden.

Every story of waking up to excess includes a moment of realization in the form of the credit card bill, the pants that no longer snap, a brush with the law, or what have you. My moment came in September when I realized that the camping season had passed and we'd only taken our daughter to the woods for a single night the whole summer. She loves camping. We all do. But we got there only one night all summer, because we were so driven to produce more.

Our society has quite a bit to say about 'more' - mostly that there is never enough, that we should forever do more, be more, and, especially in the holiday season, buy more. Looking at it that way, saying, "We have enough" about anything is almost a radical act.

Sometimes, of course, there genuinely is not enough. Every life includes experiences of scarcity, when there is not enough food or money or friendship or opportunity. What I am hoping for my family is that we can learn to recognize the difference between need and greed.

Next summer you'll find us in our downsized garden, some, but also in the woods; often, I hope. Very likely on Saturdays I'll be at the farmers market, buying the things we aren't growing ourselves. They always have plenty there. We'll have enough.

Until next time, take good care and eat well. Erin

Erin Barnett

CSA Farmers: Looking ahead to 2013?

This time of year many CSA farmers are looking ahead to next year and considering some changes. If you're in that group, it might be a great time to take a look at our CSA management software, CSAware. If you would like to see how it works, and what it can offer your farm, let us know and we'll set you up for a tour.

From the LocalHarvest Catalog:

Love to decorate for the holidays? Our most popular seller is this boxwood wreath. We also carry balsam, pine, fir, mixed green, and dried flower wreaths. Order early, so you can enjoy your wreath all season long. Ready or not, the holiday gift giving season is upon us. Why not avoid the mall and buy presents made by family farmers? We've got over 10,000 products in our LocalHarvest catalog, including a wide variety of gift baskets, fruit, meats, honey, and of course, our ever-popular gift certificates!

Food From the Farm: Ginger Cookies

These are the cookies I make most often for my family, and their spice makes them a nice holiday cookie too. They come together in just a few minutes and the whole wheat flour makes them more nutritious than some other treats. I think you'll like them. Thanks to Marilyn Yank for the recipe.