Written by Kelsey MacDonald, SEL Intern
Here are some helpful and hopefully inspiring ways to enjoy local food, celebrate the seasons and eat local foods all year long.
January (Nov-April) : Winter Farmers Markets
Winter markets are a fun and warm retreat from the harsh weather. In addition to many farmers and edible products, some markets have live music, instructional demos, and tastings in addition to the shopping. They are a great way to stay connected to your local food source and try a variety of root, storage crops and greens through the colder months. Some are weekly and some are bi-weekly, so be sure to check the schedule before attending.
Seacoast Eat Local (Rollinsford and Exeter)
Newmarket Farmer’s Market, Newmarket NH
Rolling Green Nursery, Greenland NH
Raymond Farmers Market, Raymond NH
Saco River Farmer’s Market, Saco, ME
York Gateway Farmer’s Market, York, ME
Berwick Farmer’s Market, Berwick, ME
Kittery Farmer’s Market, Kittery, ME
Salem Farmer’s Market, Salem, NH
February – CSA Fairs & Sign Ups
Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) creates a partnership between farmers and their customers. CSA members become shareholders, sharing the risks and benefits of the growing season. In return for making a investment early in the season, CSA members receive their “share” of the crops (typically given in weekly allotments) and are able to have a taste of what is in season. By paying ahead, the members are able to help the farmers pay for seeds and up front labor costs. To see more information on specific CSAs check out https://seacoasteatlocal.org/find-local-food/csas/
February is also the month of football celebrations and snacks. Make sure to include local wings in your football festivities!
Also, don’t forget to support your local greenhouse if you choose to purchase flowers to celebrate Valentine’s Day this month.
March – NH Maple Month/ Weekend
New Hampshire maple month is a great time to get to tour some local farms featuring their maple products. Every weekend this month different farms throughout the state host open houses including demos, tastings and a tree tapping ceremony. Be sure to check of the site for dates and times. This is a sweet event that’s perfect for the whole family to enjoy!
April – Local Easter Dinner Including local Hams and Home Garden Planning
Talk to the farmers at the winter markets to reserve your local food to share with your family for the big holiday meal. Local hams are a great addition to your big meal, especially with a local, homemade maple glaze. See recipe below for an easy example.
Maple glaze for ham:
¾ cup local maple syrup
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover ham with glaze during the last half hour of cooking. Baste frequently.
This is an in-between time in the New England growing season, so it is a great time to try new cooking techniques and recipes to prepare for the upcoming peak growing season. There are cooking and preserving classes happening all year round. By preparing with knowledge and equipment now, you’ll be more prepared for the peak harvest of fruits and vegetables at the high point of the season. See the links for more info:
It is also a great time to start planning out your home gardens or consider being a part of a community garden near you. This allows you to get to know others in your community with similar interests who can help with any agricultural/growing questions.
May – Summer Farmers’ Markets Open!
There are 30 summer farmer’s markets in the area of York, Rockingham, and Strafford counties. These are a great way to stay connected to your local food source and get to know your farmers, as most are held weekly, and some bi-weekly. The summer is a busy time of year for growers and others at the market. Be sure to support their hard work. These are fun to bring the kids and allow them to be a part of the local food shopping. Check out which one is near you for the dates and times at Seacoastharvest.org
June – PYO strawberries
Picking your own produce is fun for everyone!
By picking your own you usually end up paying a better price per pound. It is a way to feel more connected to your food source, especially since you had a hand in the harvest. Strawberries are usually quite quick to pick because of their size and are a great treat. They last for less than a week if stored in the refrigerator, so preserving through cooking, canning or freezing are a few suggested options. Rhubarb is also in season at this time, which pairs well with the strawberries. If preserving is something new for you, check out this easy strawberry freezer jam. It is fun to make with friends or family after a day of picking.
Freezer Strawberry Jam
1quart fully ripe strawberries
1box fruit pectin (like Sure Jell)
You will need clean plastic containers and lids; rinse them thoroughly with boiling water and make sure they are completely dry.
Rinse strawberries gently with clean water, pat dry, then stem and crush them thoroughly, one layer at a time.
Measure exactly 2 cups crushed berries into a large bowl; stir in sugar.
Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix water and pectin in small saucepan; bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
Continue boiling and stirring 1 minute.
Remove from heat and add to fruit mixture; stir constantly for three minutes or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy; a few sugar crystals may remain and that’s okay.
Fill prepared containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops.
Wipe off top edges and immediately cover with lids.
Let stand at room temperature 24 hours.
Your jam is now ready to use, and can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks or
frozen for up to one year.
Thaw frozen jam in the fridge before using.
July – PYO blueberries and raspberries
Picking your own blueberries and raspberries will take longer than strawberries because of their smaller size, but will also be more cost effective and fresher than buying already picked. With these, it is fun to make picking a game with the family or friends. Some options include seeing who can pick the most and guess the weight – whoever is closest when the berries are weighed, wins! These are great to have all year round for baking and smoothies. When freezing, be sure they are fully dried, place a single layer on a cookie sheet and place flat in the freezer so they can freeze individually, then bag and date.
August – NH Eat Local Month!
(special events, farm days and open houses)
National & New Hampshire Farmers Market Week
August is a busy month for local food. This is month features special events throughout the area on farms and at the market including tours, potlucks, preserving information, picnics, BBQs and much more. Be sure to look at so you don’t miss these fun happenings.
There will also be special events at the markets for all ages at the beginning of the month to celebrate all the hard work so far. This is a week of markets not to be missed!
Pick your own peaches and peach festivals are also happening. They are a quick pick and a sweet and juicy snack and great to add to your preserved fruit collection.
September – Apple Picking, PYO Raspberries, Fish and Farm Festival
Apple picking is always fun for all ages and there are many delicious cooking options to follow. There are sometimes hayrides and animals to enrich the family fun experience. Homemade apple sauce is a healthy treat and also can be used for an oil substitute in baking to reduce fat intake. Raspberries are also back in season for another fall treat. An apple raspberry crisp would be a great way to combine the two seasonal specialties.
October – Pumpkin Picking, Cider Festivals, Hayrides/Corn Mazes
Pumpkin carving and corn mazes are a New England tradition for this time of year. You cannot forget the hayrides, cider and cider donuts while you are there! Roasting the pumpkin seeds make for a healthy snack on-the-go and allow you the freedom to flavor them your way.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
-2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds
-3 Tablespoons melted butter
-1 teaspoon salt
-other desired seasonings
-1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with foil and grease the foil. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients; spread into prepared pan. Bake at 250° for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Increase heat to 325°. Bake 5 minutes longer or until seeds are dry and lightly browned. Serve warm, or cool before storing in an airtight container. Yield: 2 cups.
November – Winter Farmers Markets Open, Thanksgiving – Local Chicken, Turkey & Ham
The winter markets are back! Make sure to reserve your Thanksgiving turkey ahead of time from your famer at the market. There are also all the sides and fixings you will need to go along with your turkey including fresh cranberries for an easy homemade cranberry sauce.
Mix all ingredients in a med sauce pan.
Bring to boil; simmer until berries pop.
Chill until ready to serve.
December – Holiday Winter Markets
Winter is beginning to be underway, and it is time to celebrate the holidays and the coming of the new year! You will find all the fixings for your special holiday meal. Keep in mind, you may have to sign up to reserve your specialty products ahead of time to help the farmers plan accordingly for everyone. You can also find a large variety of great gifts from mushroom powders, to oils, dried herbs and seasonings, wool scarves and mittens, gift cards and market tokens!