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Savoring the Seasons

Savoring the Seasons: Talking about the weather


Talking about weather is often considered “small talk” or something to say to a stranger at the bus stop. For me, talking about weather is far from small, it’s an important sharing of news and considering of the world around us.

These days, conversations about weather often revolve around the latest form of “extreme” we’re experiencing. A few months ago, it was how dry the weather was. The past few weeks, it is about how wet it is. Recently, I’ve listened to farmers complain about the wet weather making it hard to plant and/or harvest crops.

Standing in the peace vigil, Jim Smethurst and I chatted about gardens. Jim said he had a memorable conversation a few years ago with Dave Jackson of Enterprise Farm in Whately. Dave knows Jim because he’s one of Dave’s best customers for collard greens. Dave told Jim that after Tropical Storm Irene he had lots of collard greens to sell because it was “the one thing the weather couldn’t kill.” After that, Jim thought, “Maybe we should be paying attention to which vegetables the weather couldn’t kill.”


While it was raining hard last week, I wondered which crops would do well with the wetness and which would be stressed. As we stood on the Common, Jim also said, “Every year there are winners and losers in the annual vegetable lottery. One year, the cucumbers do really well and the tomatoes don’t. The next year the tomatoes are great and no cucumbers.”

How’s this year’s vegetable lottery in your garden?

In last Thursday’s rain, as Sue Bridge and I worked in her storage vegetable garden, Sue said, “We all need to take lots of notes, keeping records of which varieties do well in which conditions.”


Let’s expand our weather conversations to include sharing about crops that are resilient in “extreme” weather.

Ninth Annual Free Harvest Supper of Local Food, Sunday, Aug. 18, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Greenfield Town Common. Free bountiful meal of locally grown food prepared by local chefs, live music, children’s activities, educational displays, and a Really, Really Free Market of locally grown food. Seeking volunteers, food donations, and organizational displays.

It takes a whole community to make a great community event. 100 volunteers, over 50 farms, a dozen organizations, and countless home gardeners (along with more than 1,000 hungry diners) helped make last year’s supper a success. A core group of volunteer organizers is planning this year’s Free Harvest Supper and they want your help! Get involved — with planning, volunteering the day of the supper, donating food, or providing information for the display area. To volunteer, contact Jennifer Williams at williams@crocker.com.

To donate food or provide display materials, contact


For information, visit

www.freeharvestsupper.org or call (413) 773-5029.

This week we’re eating. . .


By Shelley Wiseman (from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Strawberry-Leather-242303)

11∕2 lb. strawberries, halved (41∕2 C.)

3∕4 C. sugar (or less)

17-by-12-inch nonstick bakeware liner such as a Silpat;

a large offset spatula

Purée strawberries with sugar in blender until smooth, then strain through fine-mesh sieve into large heavy saucepan. Bring purée to boil, then simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally (more frequently toward end), until thick enough to mound slightly and reduced to 1 to 11∕4 C., 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 200°F with rack in middle. Line large baking sheet with nonstick liner. Pour hot purée onto liner and spread thinly (as evenly as possible) into 15-by-10-inch rectangle using spatula.

Dry purée in oven until it feels drier (it shouldn’t stick to your fingers) but is still slightly tacky, 2 to 3 hours. Cool on liner on rack until completely dry, at least 3 hours and up to 24. Place sheet of parchment paper over leather, then peel leather off liner and roll up in parchment. Strawberry leather keeps for one month in a sealed bag at room temperature.

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