The temps are still crawling away from freezing, and snow flurries are still in the forecast - but fear not, spring weather (and produce) is right around the corner. How do we know for sure? We asked Vermont farmers for proof that warmer days are coming . . .
Hank Bissell - Lewis Creek Farm, Starksboro
Bright green sprouts, shoots and baby greens may be the first local produce you look for in spring, but the true first harvest (after maple, of course) has been ripening and sweetening in the ground all winter. The extreme temperatures of our northern Vermont winters convert the starches in the parsnips to sugar and allow the parsnips' flavor to mellow. The result is a magically sweet, tender root.
According to Hank Bissell at Lewis Creek Farm, "back in the day, no one dug Parsnips in the fall. They were left in the ground all winter and were the first vegetable to come out of the garden in the spring. . . extra sweet!" However, like most rewards, over-wintering parsnips comes with a risk. Hank often has to scramble to get his harvest. "We find we have to harvest the parsnips the very first day that the ground is thawed enough, 'cause the deer will sniff out the green sprouts and eat the crowns of the roots before you can say Jack Robinson." Deer know an excellent treat when they see it.
What other spring preparation is happening on Lewis Creek Farm right now? "We're busy in the greenhouses, and the ground is still freezing every night, but we're poised ready to pounce the minute it warms up even a bit. The next outdoor activity will be planting Sugar Snap Peas. We might do that by this weekend. I suspect that by the time this gets to press we'll be in the first phase of plowing and planting. We'll see. . . There's plenty of years we've had 15" of snow on the 15th of April, but it doesn't last long and often we'll be out planting peas three days later!"
Spring sightings from farms across the state. . .
Golden Russet Farm - Shoreham
Marthe, Julie and violas- a sure sign of spring at Golden Russet Farm & Greenhouses!
Sandiwood Farm - Wolcott
Seedlings in the greenhouse - opening for the season in May!
Breezy Acres Farm - Montgomery
Nothing says spring quite like baby animals . . . checkout these adorable spring piglets!
Green Mountain Girls Farm - Northfield
Spring salad greens, the perfect freshness to chase away mud season blues.
Tail Feather Farm - Middlebury