It’s the perfect time of year! Okay, the pollen adds a tricky dynamic to it all, but there is something almost magical about the blooming trees and flowers.
The little and I were in the backyard the other day inspecting our newly budding azaleas and my mouth watered. No, we don’t eat azaleas; it’s because local produce season right around corner.
This is our first year Spring in Pittsburgh and I immediately began thinking of all the things we had to do to obtain said produce. Would we grow it ourselves? Would we trek to the Farmers Market every week? Would we join a CSA? I decided for a combo platter.
Are you starting to crave local produce as well? You’re in good company! Here are some options to help you navigate your choices.
- Join a CSA
One of the most rewarding things we do as family is join a CSA. There are so many aspects about Community Supported Agriculture that I love. There’s the organic produce that is in season, offering optimal nutritional benefits. There is the fact that with every basket you are supporting a local farmer who is sustainably growing it all. Perhaps my favorite reason I love CSA season is all of the produce we normally wouldn’t pick up at the store forces us to get creative in the best possible way. I had never eaten kohlrabi or heirloom anything until our first CSA experience.
And your kids get to join in on the fun! Nothing makes eating veggies more appealing than getting a bunch of Easter egg radishes in your CSA box. And those funky little heirloom tomatoes are the best! Plus, besides produce, many CSAs offer local meat, eggs, fruit, and honey among other delights.
For more information on local CSAs, click here.
- Farmers Markets
Another of our family’s favorite traditions is a weekend morning at the Farmers Market. Yes, you have your pick of fresh and local produce, but you also find novelties like jams, pastries, and just about anything else your heart desires. Just like with CSAs, you are supporting your neighbors.
One of my favorite Farmers Market finds was when we were on holiday in Montreal. When we travel we always head to the Market to check out the local treats. It was May and we happened across some fiddleheads – something I had never seen before. The farmer instructed me on how to prepare and cook them, and now I have a beautiful memory.
- Pick Your Own
I’m basically sharing with you our favorite pastimes, and picking our own fruit is yet another one. Berry season is right around the corner, and of course there are peaches, pears, and apples to pick as well. Our little loves picking his own berries and eating them right off the bush! I love that he sees where his food comes from as well as supporting a local farm.
Berry picking is a great idea for a play date. Bring a picnic lunch with you and you’re set. I’m already looking up new jam and preserve recipes in anticipation!
Again, we are in a prime location for these great edible adventures! Click here for more. Bonus points if you remember your own buckets or bags to eliminate the need for a disposable bag.
- Grow Your Own
I am thrilled beyond words for this new adventure! In the past we have only grown herbs, but this year we are trying to grow a few little bites of our own.
I have mentioned Grow Pittsburgh before as they are excellent resource for any gardening questions you could have. My neighbor and I are looking forward to attending a few of their classes, and I check in on their Facebook page every day just to make sure I’m on track.
If a garden seems too intimidating, do what we did and start with herbs. We began with Basil because we seem to use it all the time. If you haven’t used fresh herbs in your cooking before, prepare to be amazed. It makes all the difference! And to grow it yourself is so satisfying. When our little was just a year old he would go to the Basil, name and smell it, then pick a piece and munch on it. Talk about teaching your kids the right stuff.
We have so many options when it comes to eating local, and they all involve lessons and making memories, all while helping our neighbors. It’s a perfect time to enjoy the local bounty!