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Tiffany M.
Denver, CO
Post #: 19
Hi all,

Who out there is successfully eating locally in winter?

We've found a ton of recipes and general advice on how maintain this effort of eating locally in Denver, CO through the winter. But, we're interested in learning how people have actually done it. What compromises have you had to make? How many jars of what does it take to last until that first sign of green popping up in spring?What steps have you taken as harvests wind down?

We've canned a bunch of peaches, frozen a bunch of corn, are making a lot of pesto to freeze and dehydrating our herbs. Obviously that's not enough, but it's our first year. We're share holders in MM Local, but I'm sure that won't be all we need either. We're a family of two and are curious to know just what an undertaking we should plan for next year if we're really going to be serious about this.

Thanks for the fruitful discussion to follow!

Darlene N.
Louisville, CO
Post #: 39
I am putting on a demonstration-lecture this afternoon to talk about that very thing. You are welcome to come, or if you can't I'd be glad to come to you and your group to present the same thing. It is called Home Economics of the 21st Century.

The lecture is free it is at the Erie Community Library 400 Powers Street Erie, Colorado 80516. Erie is the little community just NE of Lafayette and just north of Broomfield in Weld and Boulder counties.

Cynthia G.
user 13566888
Denver, CO
Post #: 2
Darlene, I am interested in attending if you are doing another lecture/demonstration.
Let me know!
A former member
Post #: 21
Hi Tiffany,

This will be my third winter eating almost entirely local. (I still get a few things that are non-local, like nuts, olive oil, and chocolate.) Forgive me if I go on a bit, but I get kind of excited about this topic.

For fruit, you can get a case of "keeper" apples from Ela Family Farms at one of the last Boulder Farmer's Markets. This should last you until the end of December if you keep them in a cool place. (Ela is low on keeper apples this year, so don't wait until the last market.)

After the apples are gone, you'll need about 6 months of frozen, dried, or canned fruit to last until strawberries come in June. It's a long time, so it's good to plan ahead. For the past two years, I bought a bit of extra fruit every week (sometimes double what I wouldn't normally eat in a week) and dehydrated it. That usually worked, as long as I rationed myself. Dried fruit is great because it's easy to prepare and doesn't take up much space, but because it doesn't take up much space, it's easy to eat more than you would fresh.

This year, because I'll be sharing my stash with my boyfriend, I stocked up on flats of berries from Berry Patch Farms and got an extra case of peaches from Ela. I almost always dehydrate, rather than freeze, but not everyone likes dehydrated fruits. Apples, pears, peaches, berries, and grapes all work well on the dehydrator. All in all, I have over 20 pint jars (old peanut butter jars) of dried fruit, and I'm still drying stuff every week.

For veggies, I also dehydrate a lot. Greens like kale and chard dehydrate well, and so do tomatoes and peppers. Other things, like carrots and zucchini, don't rehydrate that well, but I dry them and then grind them to a powder in the blender and add them to soups. I have several jars of dried greens and tomatoes, and some random jars of other veggies.

I also have done more freezing this year (mostly zucchini, since it went crazy in my garden), and I've done a lot of lacto-fermentation. Did you know that you can grate zucchini and ferment it like sauerkraut? It's really good as a condiment. Sliced chard stems are another good, easy thing to ferment, since they're often treated as a waste product. And of course pickles and sauerkraut are old standbys. I don't can my fermented foods, I just keep them in the fridge and eat them first.

I also stock up on dried beans, flour, winter squash, root vegetables, and of course meat. Places like In Season and the Denver Urban Homesteading Market are great to pick up things throughout the winter, but you never know what they're going to have, so I stock up just in case. For the past couple of years, I've gotten about 20 pounds of winter squash (for just me) at the beginning of the season, and I store it in my uninsulated, unheated laundry room. I haven't had any go bad that way.

This year I also joined the High Plains Food Coop, so I'll see what they have available through the winter.

Also, last year I put in a low, plastic-covered tunnel in my garden and had arugula, kale, and daikon radish all winter long. This year I'm doing the same thing, but it looks like it will be mostly arugula.

So, sorry if that's too much information. Like I said, I get excited. This past year, I had some dried veggies left over, and I ran out of dried fruit in May. I make up the difference with Ela's dried apples and peaches, which you can usually get at either In Season or the DUH market.

Anyway, let me know if you have any questions.

Cynthia G.
user 13566888
Denver, CO
Post #: 3

I found that the book Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman (he has written several on the subject) to be very informative. He uses row covers, cold frames and a combination of both to harvest throughout New Hampshire, zone 5.
That said, he also includes information on growing and storing of plants to provide food for all seasons.
I keep it as a reference for growing in zone 5.

This summer I grew collard greens (4 plants almost overwhelmed me with greens) that I steamed, dried slightly in a dehydrator, then vacuum sealed. I threw them into a freezer for a quicker fix than totally dehydrated.
I use all methods of food preservation and do not feel that I have had to make any compromises to do this.
There is the additional learning curve of USING what you have stored.
The huge bonus for me is being able to go to the garden (summer through winter) and deciding what to enjoy.

Start and slowly add as you discover what foods you will actually eat and are able to grow.
This may not help for this winter, but with the information provided by Jessica, we will both be set for this winter. I can ditto what she says about dehydrating. I also add a desiccant and oxygen packet to the dehydrated food container (glass rather than plastic) and then vacuum seal the lid closed. See the Food Saver product line for product information.

Also go on line to for instructional videos for long term storage how-to-do.
A former member
Post #: 4
My husband and I have been working on this for a couple of years now as well. We are CSA members at Monroe Organic Farms. They offer both a summer and winter produce share as well as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, eggs, fruit share from the western slope, and honey from Clark's. For the past couple of years we've received almost everything that they offer. They also plant extra for members who like to can produce so that when it is available we can come out and pick asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, poblanos & anaheims, strawberries, etc. For the past two years I've volunteered to pick when the freeze arrives. After picking we are allowed to glean the fields. This year I came back with a 2 boxs of tomatoes, bell peppers and hot peppers.

The fruit share is typically 80 - 90lb delivered during the summer months, so we eat some, freeze some and can, dehydrate, or store the rest.

Each year I've been able to can enough tomato sauce (24 quarts minimum) to get us though the winter as well as applesauce and pickles. We have a freezer that we stock with meat, vegetables and fruit that we freeze. We have also dehydrated when I've gotten around to it. The winter share provides us with a lot of winter squash, onions, potatoes, carrots, leeks, celery root, assorted root veggies, garlic, cabbage, hardy greens, popcorn and dried beans through February, at which point we head into the freezer and pantry till about June when the new crop of asparagus arrives.

We supplement with purchases at Denver Urban Homesteading Market and sourcing out local producers when needed. This year the bean crop for the dried beans was taken out by hail so we'll be purchasing some bulk items from Golden Organics. I also hope to add on a share at Windsor Dairy this next year and use cold frames to give us some additional greens in the winter.

Ultimately, I've found that we rely on a lot of root vegetables in the winter. If you plan ahead and spend some time on preserving during the summer it's not too bad. For us, I've found that really utilizing a CSA membership has been key.
Tiffany M.
Denver, CO
Post #: 20
Thanks so much everyone for the great tips! It seems it is doable. Our only frustration is having to wait through this winter to really get it going. It's been a fun adventure though so far. Why everyone isn't as addicted to feeding themselves is beyond me. :-)

A former member
Post #: 5
Since reading this post I've been playing with an idea. I thought it might be interesting to have some sort of written guide out there on year round local eating for the Denver area. Something that really answers the questions of how to do it, how much to put away, and where to buy, what it costs, etc. My husband and I have kept a journal but entries are not always consistent, so while I have some idea there are enough holes that I am really curious as to what we spend and what percentage of a local diet we really have.

I also think it would be good to have a number of different types of households participating, singles, couples, families, homeowners, renters, vegetarians, gluten free, etc. Households could record what they eat, how much they put away for winter, sample menus, cost, and then tabulate the percentage of their diet that is local. It would require a lot of work from a data gathering sense so I'm not sure if anyone would be interested in a project like that. In the end it could be compiled into a resource guide/ebook or something of the sort.

If something like this already exists for Denver please let me know. If not - is anyone interested in this experiment?
Tiffany M.
Denver, CO
Post #: 21
Hi Christina,

Wow! That's a great idea. Since that's exactly what I'm looking for right now, I certainly think it would be worth it. If a group of people are in, it would be worthwhile to establish the data to collect and how to document it consistently for purposes of putting the guide together later.

Let's see what kind of interest this generates.


Darlene N.
Louisville, CO
Post #: 40
Sunday, October 23rd, I am having my second meeting of Home Economics for the 21st Century, focusing on a renaissance of the use of Wild Foods. The goal is year round perpetual gardening via the layers of a forest garden, with the 'edge' being the most dynamic area. Perennial plants provide this, whether they are trees or shrubs, or even grasses for that matter. Each season brings its own harvest.
I used to organize a food buying club. What we used to do is hold a potluck dinner every month so that the members could demonstrate what their cuisine needs were and we would order our 'cases' based on sharing them.

I would like to resurrect this by creating a 'movable feast' each month for people to observe those folks' methods of capturing the bounty of each season, making it useful by storage or eating it, and so on. Of course being a Homeopath informs much of what I practice in regard to 'gardening' and preparing plant-based substances, but also 'Buddhist Economics" as described by E.F. Schumacher in his book Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered

The EF Schumacher Society has a website you can visit. Let's meet and discuss these things as the pertain to a better definition of sustainability which does not imply stasis, but the dynamic interrelationship between the actors in the garden, which promotes both growth and decay in their due time. 'Just in time' inventory practices are an example of this. Organizing our nutritional needs on what is seasonally available, locally adapted to the same conditions we live under is the key to sustainable physical and mental health.

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