As the weather starts to warm up and the days get longer, April marks the beginning of the vegetable harvest season for many gardeners and farmers. This month starts the growing season with a bang: rhubarb and ramps come to farmers markets and farm boxes to the delight of home cooks and chefs everywhere.
Early show of greens - Kale and Chard mixed with Lettuce
Even more welcome was my favorite purple and green of all, ramps, which were are not likely to be a part of farm share box but are the enhancement of choice for chefs and laymen like myself during this time of the year. Ramps are wild leeks that are both purple and green and uniquely delicious. They take forever to grow and have a short season and are therefore too expensive for a farm-share situation but worth every penny. You will see ramps pop up in recipes here and there this month and next - if you are not feeling ramp adventurous or they are out of season, you can substitute spring garlic, standard garlic, or leeks.
Rhubarb Festivals across the country. UK National Tea Day.
The world's largest wine festival, Vinitaly takes place over four days in Verona every April, where wine professionals from across the globe come together to exhibit their products.
Visitors get to indulge in the finest wines and devour yummy snacks, all while walking around a great deal (wear sensible shoes)!
Farmers Use the Winter Season for Planning/Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock.com
Meanwhile, back at the farms, climate change has been impacting the vegetable crop in the NY region, and the challenges were abuzz amongst farmers at a recent conference. Heavy rains cause soil erosion and runoff and breed pests. Worse, it forces farmers to delay planting in a business where timing is everything, and employing new tools and methods to compensate is driving up costs in an already inflated market. Some CSA subscribers are beginning to notice that their boxes are not as varietal as they used to be. Still, CSA subscribers are getting the best of the best, and farmers need subscribers' support now more than ever. Keep up the good work on both sides of the equation.
Here's what's in season in April:
Roots & Shrooms
Black Trumpet Mushrooms
Beans & Gourds
Dried Shell Beans
*Indicates that April is the first month of harvest for the New York Area