Sweater weather is finally upon us! Just add some hot cider and doughnuts, and you have the makings of a great October day in the state shaped like a mitten. Family farms across the state are hosting thousands of visitors for haunted hayrides, corn mazes, apple tastings, pumpkin carving and you can usually even find some animals to pet or feed.
October is also Agritourism Month! We celebrate National Farmer’s Day on October 12 every year as farmers spend the month buttoning up farms across the country.
As we wind down our farms and replace our rows of vegetable plants with cover crops for the winter, we are pleased to share this season’s growing totals. Since July 1, our farms have produced 35,444 pounds (21,000 in Kent County and 14,444 in Ottawa County), totaling 261,508 servings of vegetables and fruits. We want to send a sincere thank you to everyone who helped grow and distribute this healthy food for our community.
October traditionally was the harvest season on farms. Grains were harvested, dried and stored for winter livestock feed and sales. Root crops such as potatoes, beets, turnips and carrots would be joined by crops like cabbage, leeks, fall squash and onions for storage. This storage would generally be a root cellar, which is an underground vault that maintains a temperature above freezing even during winter’s darkest days. The last of the canning would be completed with vegetables and fruits from the harvest to ensure a diverse menu for the coming months.
We don’t need to live this way anymore, but some choose to embrace it fully. Modern gardeners have it much easier than those of the past. We are so lucky to have most of the collective knowledge of our ancestors combined with advancements in technology to help us “capture the harvest” for a more sustainable and often affordable way of living.
This can be done even if you don’t have time or space to maintain a garden. By purchasing bulk local produce “in season” and preserving it with a variety of at-home methods, you can lower your food costs for winters’ long stay. For example, it’s cheaper to buy butternut squash in October than February or March, as it is in season locally. Besides the cost savings, local produce tends to be fresher, more flavorful and even have more nutrients. Find some of our favorite recipes for kids and families here!
Take advantage of these seasonal opportunities to “bulk up” for the winter. Grab some family or friends and tour one of the many family farms in the area. Some of these unique opportunities can only be enjoyed right here in Michigan. While you’re there, pick up fresh produce to preserve! Crops like fall squash, root vegetables, hot peppers, greens, apples and more are in season right now and right down the road. It will support local farmers and get you on a tasty track for the upcoming winter.
So, grab your favorite sweater and don’t forget to layer. The fall colors and savory flavors we all love are happening right now. Don’t miss it!
See you next spring!
The Grow team