With the warm weather disappearing after an unseasonably warm fall, it’s time to start thinking about winter. Though it can feel like the summer and fall are the best seasons for fresh local food products, the winter months also have a lot to offer.
Cynthia Roy, the manager of the Huntingdon County Farmers’ Market, says there will be four of those popular markets this winter: Sunday, February 5 at Centre Barberivain in Sainte-Barbe; Sunday, March 5 at the town hall in Très-Saint-Sacrement; Sunday, March 19 at the Huntingdon Adult Education and Community Center (HAECC); and Sunday, April 2 at the Ormstown Recreation Center. The markets will all run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Huntingdon County Farmers’ Market will also be hosting two Christmas markets this year. The first will take place on Sunday, December 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ormstown Recreation Center, followed by a second on Saturday, December 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Saint-Anicet Community Center located in the Catholic church.
At these events, Roy says folks can expect to “stock up on local food and products from the Chateauguay Valley. At all the markets, people will be able to find gourmet specialties such as bakeries and pastries, chocolates, alcoholic beverages, vegetables, meats, plants, and artisanal products.”
Roy explains that the best way to make sure you have a consistent supply of local food is to go right to producers. “We encourage people to reach out to their favorite producer directly. If they don’t have their coordinates, they can probably find them on the Huntingdon County Farmers Market website, www.marchefermierhuntingdon.ca.”
The Coop les Jardins de la Résistance market garden is offering a subscription service for its winter vegetable baskets. Jess Elwell, one of the owners, explains that there are two reasons they can provide fresh produce even in winter: huge amounts of storage, and heated greenhouses. She says, “Our winter basket program consists of 12 deliveries over 24 weeks.”
The baskets themselves offer a wide variety of products, including lettuce and ginger, that you wouldn’t expect to see in the winter. “Our basket deliveries are mini-market style; the boxes are not pre-made,” Elwell explains. This means you have a say in what you get with each new basket. She adds that basket pickup offers a unique experience: “It is often hard to get out of the house in the winter, and coming to get your basket is a nice opportunity to come and socialize with your family farmers and other folks who love veggies.” You can email email@example.com for more information.
At les Jardins Glenelm, you can get your fresh veggie fix a couple of ways. Owner Ian Ward says, “We’re offering two options this fall: a big sixty-dollar basket full of storage vegetables on November 16, and a custom basket in mid-December. After the holidays, we’ll take orders each week.” Folks can place these weekly orders by emailing the farm with their choices. The available varieties will be published weekly on the farm’s Facebook page; information is also available at jardinsglenelm.com.
Ward adds that “Local farms have really improved their game over the last few years. People used to make pickles and freeze garden produce, but now you can just call up one of the local market gardens or orchards for premium, often organic, food all winter long.” He recommends using root vegetables to make a hearty roast vegetable medley or soup.
Both Jardins Glenelm and the Jardins de la Résistance will be present at public markets this winter.
If you’re looking to get a protein fix, Boutique Bon Boeuf has you covered. Chantal Agnew shares that the store is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. She says they offer “beef, veal, and pork raised right on our farm. We also sell chicken and turkey, and local products from other farms. Everything is sold frozen in individual cuts, or we sell quarter beef and family boxes.” They also offer prepared meals.
Agnew recommends that the best way to get fresh produce in the winter is to reach out to your favourite farms that you buy from in the summer. She adds that “Most meat producers sell year-round.”
It is becoming increasingly more common to source meat products and eggs directly from local farms, including Boeuf Passion and the Ferme Urdani in Saint-Anicet, which list their specials on their Facebook pages.
Les Fermes Valens is also a place to check out for local meat products. Judith Fouquet, director of sales and marketing, explains that this winter “All our products are available, our meats which are organic, 100 per cent grass-fed, raised without hormones or antibiotics, our cold cuts and our sausages smoked on the spot, as well as our organic and free-range eggs.” There are also promotions to help make the products more accessible. “We offer monthly and flash specials that allow our customers to save significantly on their groceries; the best advice is to take advantage of these discounts to fill your freezer.”
Supporting local farmers is important all year. Ward explains: “We’ve got to look out for each other as a community and buying locally produced food keeps money circulating in the local economy and businesses thriving.”
Elwell says that supporting local producers is something to rejoice about, not simply do out of a sense of obligation. “Right now is the time to get excited about making hot soups with fresh root vegetables and dried herbs, pies, roasted veggies, carrot, cabbage and celeriac salad, egg rolls, and more.” She adds, “Every vegetable has its time to shine. During the winter, you maybe won’t eat fresh tomatoes or cucumbers, but the first bite you will take of one in the summer will be that much sweeter because of it.”