I revel in all four seasons, and find that my favorite is invariably the one I am in. That makes fall unquestionably my favorite season for many reasons.
FIRST: things are changing – FAST!
SECONDLY, the adrenalin rush of the crazed squirrel mindset .
There is always a task that must be completed before winter hits, and that task galvanizes the time I spend on my land.
This year that task is completing the growing beds in the greenhouse before the ground outside (with which we are filling them) freezes.
FINALLY there is the whole wonderful harvest thing going on.
This is primal. It goes all the way back to the beginning of agriculture. Though I currently live under an urban canopy of oak and can grow very little of my own food, my relationship to harvest has been reinforced by the purchase a month ago of an 11 cubic foot contraption that creates an arctic microclimate in my basement. (see my post on freezer shopping tips here.) I am slowly filling it with the food I buy at the farmer’s market: rock hard blocks of green beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower are settling in next to the strawberries and raspberries and blueberries that were formerly bulging the freezer of my kitchen fridge.
My freezer is embedding me more deeply in my foodshed.
All summer long I try to eat as completely as I can from my own foodshed, but even with our wonderful winter farmers market, winter has been problematic. The last two years, December through May, our major green has been hoop house spinach, and fruit dwindled down to softer and softer apples. It’s a constant puzzle trying to determine fresh or frozen broccoli leaves a larger carbon footprint on its trek from California. Winter can make me look longingly beyond my foodshed. These days as I trudge back from the farmers market, grinning under my load of perishable produce. It’s got winter feasts from my foodshed written all over it.
FEELING THE FOODSHED
Foodshed is a concept that is starting to be part of the common vocabulary. It’s a great word, based on the concept of a watershed and helps us to visualize where our food comes from and how it travels. It’s a concept that feeds your body and your soul as you connect – actually connect – with the people who create the food you need to live.
Because my house is in Madison, Wisconsin, I am sitting in a wonderful, rich foodshed, supported by a growing number of sustainable farmers, who are in turn supported by a growing urban population of people who both love the delicious goodness of locally grown food and have put ethics and eating into the same equation.
The Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at UW-Madison said in 1996, “Recognition of one’s residence within a foodshed can confer a sense of connection and responsibility to a particular locality. The foodshed can provide a place for us to ground ourselves in the biological and social realities of living on the land and from the land in a place that we can call home, a place to which we are or can become native.”
Feeling like part of the foodshed nourishes me in so many ways.
Here are two foodshed feasts happening just this week:
The UW-Madison Wisconsin Union Student Programming Board has begun a new series, Come to the Table (learn more here), where once a month students are invited to attend a themed buffet dinner featuring guided dinner conversation and a presentation by a food expert talking about some aspect of sustainability, and world trends in food consumption.
The first dinner is tonight! I am having dinner with a dear friend, so will have to take a pass on Michael Bell’s speech on “The Merchant is the One Who Gets it All; Food, the ‘Middleman, and the Agroecology of Justice.” Those gathered will dine on locally grown Rosemary Butternut Lasagna, Organic White Beans, Braised Kale and Pumpkin Pie.
Wednesday I will be able to attend an event by Ferment Madison.
In the Orpheum Lobby Restaurant, Ferment will be conducting a tasting session of heritage apples from area orchards. These will include such exotic varieties as Black Gilliflower, Calville Blanc d’Hiver, King David, and Smokehouse.
Foodshed – a great word.
So is groundswell.