What's in Season: January - March
From January through March, the harvest situation is pretty bleak. Unless the farm is growing indoors, and most aren't, everything local is from storage. Farmers are busy taking stock of their finances and repairing equipment and farm share subscribers are filling their homes with aromas of hearty root vegetable stews and baked bread. It is a time for all to hunker down. Still, there is at least one celebration to be had this season and another way we can support our local farmers while we wait impatiently for spring.
Black Truffle/Avon Dissanayake/Shutterstock.com
We researched extensively. The lone harvest festival we could find for this season was the Napa Truffle Festival, but it is one worth braving winter travel. On January 13-16, international Michelin stars, master chefs, and fine food lovers all descend on Napa Valley to celebrate truffles, particularly the Périgord black truffle, a European truffle developed to specifically to grow in America. The festival, which started in 2010, initially imported all of its truffles from
Europe, but as of the Périgord's first harvest in 2019, it boasts a mix of both local and imported truffles.
A scientific achievement to savor. Festival goers can enjoy incredible delights prepared by chefs worldwide and wash it all down with Napa Valley wines. They can also attend classes and seminars designed to teach aspiring truffle farmers, gourmands, and foodies the best ways to cultivate, harvest, store, and cook truffles. While admittedly not an eat-local endeavor for most, this festival is a rare opportunity to learn about and partake in a harvest's fresh fruits at the beginning of the year, in the dead of winter. Some of the proceeds are donated to the local food bank too, so there are plenty of valid excuses to dare this season's travel headaches and indulge.
As for our local vegetable farmers, this season is a time to take stock and plan. 2022 was a pleasant surprise for many; while climate change meant lower yield for dry or drought-stricken areas, insurance covered much of the loss, and crops were abundant for those areas with good rainfall. Adding to the relief were good food prices, which managed to offset soaring costs (some areas saw a 50% increase in feed costs due to supply chain issues).
Farmers Use the Winter Season for Planning/Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock.com
The year turned out to be less disastrous than most had expected. Still, many farmers are hoping for a more prosperous year in 2023 and are hedging their bets at the ballot box. The 2018 Farm Bill expires this year, and the proposed 2023 Farm Bill is designed to continue and increase the 2018 federal programs that reduced the risk for so many farmers this year. You can read more about it here, but if you're still looking for a New Year's resolution, one easy one might be writing to your representatives. We farm share enthusiasts can support our local farmers in more ways than one.
Here's what's in season January-March:
Roots & Shrooms
Black Trumpet Mushrooms
Beans & Gourds
Dried Shell Beans
* indicates this is the first month of its season