Growing and Sourcing Your Food and Flowers Locally
It seems the combination of the beginning of spring and the supply chain being disrupted this year have a lot of people thinking about growing a garden this summer. Reconnecting with the ways of our grandparents and great grandparents is on the minds of many. I love thinking about the victory gardens of the past. I recently spent quite a bit of time pouring through seed catalogs and websites. I'm sure I ordered way too many seed packets, but I'm excited to try growing a wide variety of produce this spring and summer.
As a child, my family planted a big garden each spring. I have fond memories of plucking peas and cherry tomatoes off the plants and eating them right in the garden. I remember my mom in the kitchen canning pints and quarts of tomato juice, pickled beets, and sweet pickles, and I learned all the tricks for freezing sweet corn each summer from my grandma, Bernice.
After college, I read a book called, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver that really changed the way I view the food we eat. If you are looking for an interesting read during this period of quarantine, I’d highly recommend it. Click the link below to learn more. In the book, the author celebrates food grown locally and enjoyed seasonally. If you think of strawberries for example, aren’t they unbelievable freshly picked from the garden in early summer? There’s also nothing like that first tomato or ear of fresh sweet corn each year. Food eaten in season provides unbelievable flavor.
Over the years, I’ve tried to include more locally grown food into our meals. I’ve been amazed at both the taste and quality of what is available locally. Lettuce that is grown in the garden is so much more unique and flavorful than that which is grown to hold up to the rigors and timeline of cross country shipping. Purple beans, rainbow-colored carrots, orange beets, and yellow cauliflower are just a few of the amazing varieties of vegetables that are out there.
Here’s a few of my favorite places to buy unique/quality seed:
Johnny’s Select Seeds www.johnnyseeds.com
Seed Saver’s Exchange www.seedsavers.org
Hudson Valley Seed Company www.hudsonvalleyseed.com
Baker Creek Seeds www.rareseeds.com
Fedco Seeds www.fedcoseeds.com
This mindset of eating locally and seasonally, has also shaped my flower business. In reading and learning more about the traditional supply chain in the floral trade, most flowers are grown for how well they hold up to shipping. Much of the fragrance and delicacy are lost in this system and most are doused with chemicals. My eyes have been opened to all of the amazingly gorgeous and fragrant flowers that can be grown and celebrated right here in Iowa.
Maybe gardening isn’t your thing or you don’t know where to start. Here are a few of my favorite farms and locations to purchase locally grown items. (Plus it’s awesome getting to know your farmer and supporting our local economy! )
1. The Orange City Farmer’s Market - Wednesdays (5-7 pm) and Saturdays (10am - 1pm) downtown OC. See their Facebook page for updates and more info.
2. The Cornucopia (located near Sioux Center)- offering produce almost year round now, vegetable subscriptions, chickens, and pork. Check out their website www.thecornucopiausa.com
3. Seven W Farm (near Paulina) - offering a variety of meat, eggs, and even turkeys! We had a free range turkey from them for Thanksgiving this year. The flavor was amazing, and they delivered it right to my door! www.sevenwfarm.com/
4. Lindsay’s Flower Patch - of course I had to mention this! Featuring seasonal, heirloom flowers grown for their fragrance and beauty. www.lindsaysflowerpatch.com
5. Practical Farmer’s of Iowa - an organization that has a passion for supporting small farmers and locally grown food. Find growers around Iowa. https://practicalfarmers.org/programs/local-foods/
6. localflowers.org - A directory celebrating local flowers and farmers. There’s a search option to find flowers near you.
7. localharvest.org - Enter your location to find local farms, farmer's markets, events, and more.
My hope is that you are inspired to try a few new varieties of vegetables or flowers this summer. I hope you’ll come to enjoy the unbelievable flavor, fragrance, and beauty that comes with purchasing/growing local vegetables and flowers.