There has been a lot of emailing and telephoning among the women in my family as we plan the Thanksgiving dinner. This year, for the first time, it will be granddaughter Tracy and her husband who are hosting the feast.
I got to thinking about where the makings of our holiday meal had come from over the years. When I was very young we lived on my Uncle Wally’s farm and much of our food was produced on the farm. Aunt Ruth had charge of the vegetable garden and the chickens. Most of the chickens were sold as broilers, and eggs were sold as well but the family took its own share. Over the summer and fall shelves in the basement filled with shining jars of vegetables, jam and pickles that Aunt Ruth put by.
But from fourth grade on ours was a suburban life and our food came from the supermarket. I remember putting all the canned vegetables, corn, peas, beets and more onto a large shelf along the cellar stairs. Supermarket fruit and vegetables came bagged or wrapped up. There was no picking and choosing from a grocery store bin. In the early 50s there weren’t even many frozen vegetables. Remember when refrigerators had just a little frosty box that held two or three ice cube trays?
We have all watched the frozen food coolers get larger and larger to hold frozen vegetables, frozen snacks, and whole frozen meals. Nowadays women and men both come home at the end of a busy work day and it can be a challenge to start cooking a big meal – especially if there are meetings and events to attend after dinner.
But my food sources started to change in 1971 when I moved to Greenfield, joined a tiny food coop and planted my first very small vegetable garden. I also met Henry, the man who would become my husband, and had his own ideas about food. Gone for good were the days of canned vegetables and cake mixes.
After sojourns in Maine and New York City we returned to Massachusetts. Life in Heath gave us vegetable gardens, berry bushes, chickens, and for several years we raised pigs and turkeys. I was grateful to have all the makings of a Thanksgiving dinner right at hand.
I continue to be grateful for the produce and products that are grown and made locally. I am grateful for all the farms and orchards that add so much to our tables, and to our local economy.
I am grateful for Green Fields Coop, and grateful to be a member.
I am grateful for the Greenfield Farmer’s Market that opened in 1975 selling local produce which now includes meat, fish, mushrooms, and items like bread, maple syrup and jams from May through October.
When the Winter Market was created in 2008 farmers learned to grow crops that could be sold throughout the winter. This year the successful Winter Markets are being held at Four Corners School today November 18, also December 2, January 6, February 3 and March 3. Once you have fresh produce you want it all the time.
I am grateful for the celebratory Harvest Dinner in Court Square, for the Stone Soup Café and for all the community meals that are served up in the community. We all deserve to be fed, to be free from hunger.
I am grateful for the Community Involved in Sustainable Agriculture (CISA) organization. It only became official in 1999 by which time there were already CSA farms selling weekly shares of their produce. For those of us who can’t have, or no longer enjoy the work of a vegetable garden, we can still get freshly harvested edibles, vegetable, fruit or meat and flowers – and be a Local Hero. The number of farm stands has also grown over the years, and Hager’s Farm Market on Route 2 has taken the farm stand to a whole new delicious level.
I’m grateful for the farmers who have a creative sense of humor. There autumnal Corn Mazes and Hager’s has an annual Pumpkin Smash and many other events all year.
I am grateful for the Franklin County Community Development Corporation (FCCDC) which has a growing food processing center where entrepreneurs can start up new businesses like Katalyst Kombucha, and produce can be canned or frozen, or turned into salsa or other products. They also help find local institutional markets like schools to buy those products.
I am grateful for Mary McClintock who showed me, and all of us, how to savor the seasons, introducing us to local farmers and gardeners over the past ten years. I will miss her enthusiasm – and the recipes she shared.
I am grateful for my family who has puts its own twist on the Thanksgiving celebration. We begin on Dessert Night, the night before Thanksgiving, with pies, cookies and pumpkin roll. Our thinking is we can’t possibly eat and savor all the desserts after a huge turkey dinner so we need to get a headstart. As the great-grandmother I think I can claim the smallest assignment this year. I will bring homemade cranberry sauce, and I promised to bring the canned cranberry sauce too. My daughters may still be fighting over who gets to bring the 1950s green bean casserole but Diane, Betsy, Tricia, Caitlin, Carissa, Connie and Tracy have it all well in hand.
Between the Rows November 18, 2017