Old Wells Farm is in Limington, Maine and is made up of Stowell Watters, Marina Steller, Dottie Jo, Dylan Watters, Alaena Robbins, and a host of friends, family, and animals. The farm is organic certified with an emphasis on permaculture techniques, no-till diversified vegetable production, flowers, pork, maple syrup, honey, mushrooms, and future endeavors unknown. Check out their website for their winter harvest offerings.
Cold Sweet Cold
Has anyone ever told you that winter harvest vegetables taste sweeter?
We have a farm stand at the Greater Gorham Farmers market where we sell everything we can grow on our bit of land in Limington, Maine. If the seed catalogs offer it, we will try to grow it. Towards the end of the season, the number of tables we put out invariably drops by one or two; the colder weather always gets the better of us. It’s downright difficult protecting all of those precious little greens.
But still, our loyal customers brave the October cold to buy their potatoes, cabbages, carrots, and squash. I am convinced that even if snow fell, they would still trudge through it to do their shopping at our little village market. In fact, there is one customer, an elderly woman, who walks across town with her facemask, her hat, her gloves, and a small bag just to buy carrots from our stand. “Your carrots are the sweetest I have ever had!” she says to me every week. Then, this past fall, her hyperbole ramped up: “These are so sweet they are going to give me a toothache!” And so, I thought to myself, “Okay, self, what is going on here? Is this wonderful person just appearing magically every Saturday to heap accolades on my simple carrots in order to boost my self-esteem?”
Has anyone ever told you that winter harvest vegetables taste sweeter? I have heard it said so many times that it has become true to me just by default. I have never tested it, though I may have tasted it. But could this be a curious case of placebo? Is the claim based on any actual science, or is it just one of those facts made hard by years of repeated use?
Cold-sweetening is just that—less starch and more sugar in the plant. As if by magic, we are given a sweet sweet winter harvest.
Turns out, it’s totally true and easily explained. In response to cold weather, plants break down their energy stores into sugar to ward off freezing. Plants make sugar through photosynthesis and store it in the form of starch. When the temperature begins its annual plunge, plants convert these stores of starch into sugars (fructose, glucose, etc.), which are dissolved into cells. The new rush of sugar essentially inhibits the water molecules from reaching the surface, so the freezing point gets slightly lower.
Cold-sweetening is just that—less starch and more sugar in the plant. As if by magic, we are given a sweet sweet winter harvest. An interesting fact that goes along with this: when you cook cold-stored potatoes, you may notice they turn brown; this is because the extra sugar is actually caramelizing, making the cold-stored potato less of a starchy and more of sweet eating potato.
Winter Harvest Farmers’ Markets
Organic vegetables, chicken, pork, and eggs, grass-fed meats, grass-fed dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir), jams and jellies, fresh baked bread, pastries, cookies and muffins, locally roasted coffee. Matching Harvest Bucks for all EBT transactions. Runs every Saturday, through April 24, 2021. Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon. www.facebook.com/BridgtonFarmersMarket.
New Location: The All Roads Hub – “Bridgton Redemption Center,” 4 Nulty Street in Bridgton, ME
Offering organic sourdough breads, tortillas and baked goods, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, greens, organic jams, beef, pork, and chicken, eggs, maple syrup, crafts, wreaths, and more. Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Inside at Jordan Carpentry, 993 Main Street in Lovell, ME. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (207) 446-7352.
The Tamworth Winter Farmers’ Market will remain outside this winter at its COVID-19 location, K. A. Brett School at 881 Tamworth Road in Tamworth, NH. These will be shorter, two-hour markets from 10 a.m. to noon, beginning Saturday, November 7 and running each Saturday through March 27 (no market November 28). Since it’s outside, check the website www.tamworthfarmersmarket.org for cancellations due to weather, and contact Bob Streeter for more information at (603) 323-2392. Plans may change as the icy grip of winter sets in.
Fresh vegetables, raw milk, honey, pastured meats, baked goods (including gluten-free), poultry, eggs, handmade soaps, and selected crafts, all from the local area. In addition to great local products, the market sponsors a DOUBLE SNAP program, which offers double benefits to carriers of the Electronic Benefits Card (EBT). Open on the first and third Saturday of each month from November 7 through April 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Brookfield Town House, 267 Wentworth Road, Brookfield, NH. Contact email@example.com or check online at www.wolfboroareafarmersmarket.com.
Foothill Farm Alliance Winter CSA
A collaboration of five farms in western Maine and New Hampshire, the Foothill Farm Alliance offers fresh veggies from
November through February. Every other week, CSA members go to one of four meeting points, visit with the farmers and other members, and pick up their veggies. A typical share includes storage crops like garlic, onions, and winter squashes, as well as fresh greens, such as spinach, head lettuce, mustards, and herbs. Late season inquiries are okay! Pick-up locations are in North Conway, Center Conway and Ossipee, New Hampshire, and Gorham, Maine. Learn more details at www.foothillfarmalliance.com.
• Spice & Grain, Fryeburg, ME
• The Other Store, Tamworth, NH
• The Local Grocer, North Conway, NH
• Thompson House Eatery, Jackson, NH
• Farm to Table Market, Ossipee, NH
For more local food opportunities, keep in touch with local food advocacy group, Mt. Washington Valley Eaters & Growers, MWVEG, or visit at www.mwveg.com. MWVEG, is a group of farmers and local food advocates working together to build a vibrant local food system in the greater Mt. Washington Valley.
For additional information on local farming, pick up a copy of the Local Farm Guide, a grassroots form of cooperative marketing and public education tool. Find them on Facebook, www.mwveg.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.