Summer in winter

It’s the last week of January. Remnants of the last snow storm are melting. The sky is gray. The ground is gray. Everything is gray. You’re beginning to yearn for the bright, warm days of summer (even the humid ones). And you are really tired of root vegetables. But you’re determined not to buy produce all the way from South America. What to do?

Sara and Adam Gordon have the solution. Buy a five-month subscription in Winter Sun Farms, a unique CSA (community-supported agriculture) program, that provides summer vegetables and fruits, flash frozen at the height of the growing season, and distributes them during the winter months. Imagine opening packages of cleaned, cut and “pot ready” vegetables and fruits in the middle of winter, all produced and grown within 150-200 miles of Bucks County by small farmers.

“It’s the guilty pleasure of season extension without buying from thousands of miles away,” explains Sara, or from some nameless industrial processing company. Each package lists the name of the small farmer who grew the produce.

It’s also about convenience. Each package serves a family of four, and comes ready to use in recipes or as a side-dish. If you like the freshness of local food, prepped and ready to use from the freezer, but don’t have time to do it yourself, this is for you.

How does it work? The subscription starts in December and goes through April with one share per month. Share options include the “omnivore” size which contains six frozen items and one fresh item, or the “herbivore” size, which is double that amount. Delivery occurs at central distribution points, convenient for members. A typical subscription might include heirloom red tomatoes, diced sweet peppers, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, sweet corn, green beans, butternut squash puree, fall greens (kale), edamame, whole raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Amounts and kinds of produce may vary; it depends somewhat on the harvest that summer season. Each size includes a bonus fresh vegetable or fruit item each month sourced from a Philadelphia-area producer. For more information on share options and pricing see their website.

Local versus regional. The produce is grown by over a dozen local and regional farmers in the Hudson River Valley who contract with Winter Sun Farms, based in New Paltz, NY, to grow vegetables for their subscribers, and flash frozen in a state-of-the-art processing facility in Kingston, NY. Why not from Bucks County? Because Bucks County doesn’t currently have the infrastructure to do this for our local farmers. In fact, Adam and Sara – and many others – want to eventually see this same business model done locally. But it will take time and investment to do that, and in the meantime, the Winter Sun Farms model, begun in 2006 by Jim Hyland, has grown each year, providing great food from local farmers to local consumers, all winter long. For more about Sara and Adam’s goals concerning local infrastructure, see the website’s FAQ section and About Us.

Is it organic? Most of the farms Winter Sun works with are “primarily certified organic or non-certified organic,” but they don’t claim to be organic. Instead, each package is labeled with the name of the farm at which it was grown, and the website provides links to those farmers’ websites. This is done to “foster a connection between farmer and consumer” and provide as much transparency as possible.

So if you’re ready to bring a bit of summer into your winter in a convenient, healthy way, contact Winter Sun Farms Greater Philadelphia (early bird discounts before October 15 too). And you can still have your root vegetables in January.

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  1. […] One of the most exciting developments in Bucks County is the increase in access to local and organic foods. Distribution is always the challenge but two organizations, Suburban Organics and Winter Sun Farms, offer new ways of getting quality food into your home. Suburban Organics delivers organic food right to your doorstep. Learn more about this Ottsville company here. Winter Sun Farms uses the CSA (community supported agriculture) model to distribute freshly frozen (right at harvest) vegetables and fruit, cleaned, cut and ready for cooking all winter long. Read the article about them here. […]

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