Those hairy, gnarled specimens up there are two celeriac roots, also known as turnip-rooted or knob celery. Or celery root. They're not exactly lookers, but they are tasty. The hands holding them belong to Nicole Cormier, founder of Farm Fare Market in Sandwich and a year round CSA with deliveries all over the Cape.
Surprisingly, Nicole didn't start out looking to sell local food. She comes to the movement as a nutritionist, and she got into this whole business venture when she was on the hunt for an office space. She saw a unit across from Café Chew in Sandwich, and it spoke to her. The only thing was, it had two rooms. She knew what to do with one: turn it into an office where she could see clients and help them fight health issues like diabetes and obesity with food choices.
But the other room? This was less clear cut. After some thinking, she decided to turn it into a local food pantry. She figured this would help her clients learn about and access nutritionally superior local foods, and she could use it as an educational tool. But pretty quickly the "pantry" took on a life of its own. All sorts of people—clients and the public at large—started coming in to buy what she was stocking. She started a summer CSA, then spring, fall, and winter buying programs. And she added local cheeses, grains, beans, meats and a raw milk club offering on top of the produce. Today, she works with several western Massachusetts farms to source grains and beans, and eight farms along the south coast to source produce. She says the most exciting time is the off-season, because you never know what you're going to find.
Massachusetts-grown triticale? Who would have thought! Same goes for hydroponically grown herbs and Jerusalem artichokes.
She's not alone in her enthusiasm for local winter foods. Island Grown Farm just started its first winter CSA, which focuses on greens. I've mentioned the Pioneer Valley grain and bean CSA out of Amherst, MA a number of times on this site, and it's going strong. This year they offered fourteen types of New England-grown grains and beans! The Orleans Winter Farmers' Market is off to a successful start, with markets at the middle school on the first and third Saturdays of every month. Cape Cod Organic Farm in Barnstable is running its first heritage-breed pork CSA this winter, and Shared Harvest CSA offers a "Deep Winter" pick-up in Bourne in January and February. Hooray!
You can listen to Nicole talk about her favorite unusual winter veggies on this week's Local Food Report.