Greens in Winter

Sitting around the kitchen table, nibbling away on Super Bowl Sunday, a friend shared her desire for fresh, local produce… in winter. “Now?” we said, glancing out the window at the frozen snow. “In Bucks County?”

Not so many years ago, you couldn’t get decent produce in winter. Then they started shipping stuff from Chile and other parts of South America. And we got spoiled. Avocados in January? Why not? Cheap asparagus in December? Of course! Most Americans don’t even know the origin of their produce, be it domestic or international. It’s just there. If it’s not, we get annoyed.

I know container shipping has gotten more sophisticated – vacuum-packing, temperature-controlled, yada, yada. But, yes, wouldn’t it be better to eat something locally produced? Two miles versus two thousand?

It’s happening here in Bucks County. In a small way, to be sure, but it’s happening. We’ve mentioned Blue Moon Acres in Buckingham and their excellent micro greens. And now Maximuck’s Farm, on the outskirts of Doylestown, is growing greens hydroponically. Over the past year, they’ve built a state-of-the-art greenhouse and began selling a variety of salad greens in their market on Long Lane. In case you don’t know Maximuck’s, this family-owned and operated farm sells its own produce, hormone-free beef, hormone-free milk, bedding plants, flowers, bird feed and more, year-round.

Greens in Maximuck's hydroponic greenhouse; photo credit Lynne Goldman

As I walked into the bright, sunny greenhouse last week, I was blown away. I spent the first five minutes taking photos of the greens. Then Matt Maximuck, Jr., and I spoke about the new venture.

Why hydroponics?

“We’re running out of farm ground,” explains Matt. “This way we can grow a lot more in a little amount of space. It’s also the best way to grow stuff. Plants get more nutrients and it goes right to the roots. The plants don’t have to spend time (energy) searching for nutrients, as they would in the soil.” It also conserves water, since the water is re-circulated.

Right now, Maximuck’s is concentrating on growing lettuces and greens: romaine, butterhead (Boston), red and green leaf lettuce, spinach and even bok choy. “We’re starting to grow some mesculin mixes. And trying some heirloom lettuces too,” says Matt.

What about the future?

“Eventually we want to be able to grow everything, all your normal vegetables, so people have fresh vegetables all year round,” Matt  says. “But not everything that will grow outside will grow in a greenhouse” or be economically feasible. You may also find these greens showing up on local restaurant tables as Maximuck’s increases its wholesale business.

For now, you can purchase the greens at the Maximuck Farm Market at 5793 Long Lane, near Street Road in Doylestown/Buckingham. The market is open Tuesday through Saturday (winter hours may vary). Phone: (215) 297-9894

Update: You may see Maximuck’s greens at your local farm market under the name, “White Star Growers Inc.” Markets carrying them include: Tanner Bros. , Altomonte’s and Del Val Farm Market by Shady Brook.


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