I once read somewhere that it takes approximately 4,000 square feet of gardening space to feed one person for an entire year. Most people do not have this kind of space, as amazing as it would be. Most of us are growing in small yards or on balconies or patios. Most of us also do not have the time it would take to grow that much food. It may seem impossible to “put up” or preserve the harvest when we mostly use the garden for fresh food that is in season. I want to share some ways to have an abundance of seasonal food to preserve, no matter the size of your garden space.
Farmers Markets – Taking advantage of farmers markets that pop up all over during the warm months can really help you stock up on fresh food to preserve. You can purchase bushels and flats of produce from your local farmer to preserve. A flat of berries can be turned into frozen fruit for the winter, dehydrated or made into jams and jellies. A bushel of beans can also be frozen, fermented, canned, etc. Basically you can take pretty much anything you find at a farmers market, buy it in a large quantity and process it at home, just as you would food form your own garden. When you do this you are also giving yourself an opportunity to connect with your local farmers and community.So next time you are at the farmers market think of what else you can do besides picking up fresh goodness for the week.
CSA – You can go further than visiting a farmers market and commit to supporting a local farmer through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). By doing this you’ll receive weekly packages of fresh farm food that can supplement your garden. You can pay for a larger share than you need for fresh food and preserve the surplus produce. This is also another great way to get to know your local farmers.
Grocery Store – You can watch for grocery store sales and stock up on produce when you find a good deal. Any time you are at the grocery store picking up food, you may see something that looks great for preserving.
I hope these ideas jumpstart your imagination with all the options you have to preserve seasonal food for future use. Now really is the time to make sure you have food on hand. Cooking from scratch, preserving food in whatever way works for you ensures you will have nutrient rich food on hand. You can dehydrate, can, freeze dry, ferment, freeze, etc. No matter the size of your garden there are options to get larger amounts of produce to preserve. I see so many people say they can’t preserve food because their growing space is too small, I say think outside the garden and look to local farmers and you’ll have so many options! Let me know in the comments what other ways you stock up on produce to preserve for future use.