November, 2011
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GLEANINGS: n. 1. That which has been acquired by gleaning. 2. The monthly eNewsletter of CT NOFA. [Glean:v. 1. to gather relevant information or material by patient effort, bit by bit; to find out. 2. to gather grain or other produce (often: left by reapers); to harvest.]
From the CT NOFA Board VP
Bettylou Sandy, our new Board Vice President, writes about the recent storm in New England. 

Bettylou SandyAll of Connecticut and beyond was affected by the unusual snowstorm of October 29. With heavy snowfall on trees still in full leaf, trees went down everywhere, causing monumental damage and loss of electricity throughout the region. This is not news to those of us living in this state, but is affirmation that we are all in similar circumstances.

 

Many people were caught off guard and were unprepared for the emergency conditions. So many New Englanders seem to have forgotten how to plan for our winter weather. This all came much earlier than "usual", but with weather patterns changing and our current economy, it was all the worse. 

We lost power at our house for four days. No furnace or hot water; no phones or computer; but we enjoyed the quiet time. We are fortunate to have a wood burning stove for some warmth and to heat water for a warm beverage. We were able to enjoy food we had stored from the bounty of our garden and from “stock-up” shopping for the winter that I do every year. We were fortunate not to have too much tree damage to our home; only to a shed, a small green house, the outdoor clothes drier and the plant stock shelving. This is New England and things happen, and some events are more dramatic than others. This and September's hurricane have taken their toll on us. After last winter, with the snow so deep for four months, we are being hit hard.

If you need help from an arborist, or another organic land care professional, you can find someone in your area that has been trained by NOFA Organic Land Care by going to the searchable website www.organiclandcare.net. These people have taken the intensive five day course and are required to update their training each year to improve their skills and remain the best in their field.

The majority of CT NOFA members have been eager to learn to grow and preserve their own food to prepare for events like these. This is why we have been offering more classes on vegetable gardening, cooking with seasonal foods and preserving the bounty of the season. Our last class for 2011 will be November 12: Growing Food Indoors. Imagine salad greens and other foods growing on your window sill. Our CT NOFA website, ctnofa.org, has all of the information and a lot of other helpful resources. We know by being more self sustaining and buying local we are less dependant upon grocery stores and foreign markets.

If you missed some of the classes this fall, our 2011-2012 Farm and Food Guide has a wonderful feature for Winter Food. In this section you will find ideas of how to grow food in cool weather, preserve seasonal foods for the winter and what conditions are best for each kind of food. There is even a section for Winter CSAs (Consumer Supported Agriculture) for a monthly connection to the farmers and more great food.

This is only November. Last year the snow started the day after Christmas and stayed until April in many areas. It is not too late to prepare for the rest of the year by stocking up on all of the things you need for the next reason to stay at home for a few days or more. Dried beans, rice, pasta and dried fruits all store best in glass jars with tight fitting metal lids. This way you can see the food, it prevents bugs and pests from being attracted to them and are even nice to look at! I find that pasta sauce jars, pickle jars and other glass containers can be washed and used for this purpose. This repurposing is the best form of recycling, and it saves a lot of money and time.

For nearly thirty years CT NOFA has been supporting local farmers, encouraging farmer’s markets, and connecting people to local farms. CT NOFA has consistently supported organic food, farms, fiber and land care all this time to promote an organic and sustainable community. I am very proud to be a part of this healthy and growing organization here in New England. More people are joining CT NOFA to support the mission while learning more about healthy food and the soil that produces it.

Every year on the first Saturday in March, our Winter Conference gets larger as more people want to meet with others who want to live a healthier lifestyle through organics. Our Winter Conference this year will focus on GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and what it means for our food and the health of the people who eat it. There will be many classes and speakers covering this and other topics. This will be something to look forward to in the dreary months ahead.

I hope that the rest of the winter will be easier for all. By preparing a little, we can enjoy the peace and quiet of a time without the noise and rush that our dependence on electricity and oil often encourage.

Happy gardening!

Bettylou Sandy is the owner of Bettylou’s Gardening in Manchester offering gardening Consultations for the do-it-yourselfer and personal training of gardening skills since 1987. As adjunct faculty at Manchester Community College she teaches a variety of gardening classes and coordinates the community garden there. Bettylou is also a board member of CT NOFA and a NOFA AOLCP.