Last year we came up with tips to celebrate the holidays in local food style, and this year we're getting creative with fun gift ideas inspired by the 4 Ps of Local Food: planting, picking, preparing and preserving. Try one of these to light up the faces of the foodies on your gift list!
A sprouting kit- for the student who lives away at school
Worried that they may soon perish of scurvy? Along with vitamin C in their stocking, give them a kit to start growing their own sprouts. No gardening experience necessary and you'll sleep better knowing they're eating nature's super food.
What you'll need: A mason jar, sprouting seeds, a screen for the top of the jar (metal screen mesh, cheesecloth, or a plastic sprouting lid). For more information, check out this Root Cellars Rock post and this Cornerbrooker article.
A gift certificate for seeds- for very passionate gardeners
You know who they are, the people that extended the growing season to December and use words like remay and cloche on a regular basis; the ones who can identify what microbrewery beers different breeds of slugs prefer as their final drink. Sometimes these people get sad in the winter, waiting to open their gardens. To cheer up one of these people, get them a gift certificate for seeds: hours of browsing-and-daydreaming-entertainment.
What you'll need: seed company websites or catalogues and maybe a credit card for online purchases. Here's a list of Canadian seed companies to get you started.
A plot at the community garden- for your Nan and Pop that moved into an apartment
They may not have that big yard that you remember from childhood anymore, but their green thumbs have just gotten greener with age. Sign up at a local community garden for a plot and make it a weekly date for some family time, with the added bonus of growing fresh vegetables. Some gardens even have special raised beds that are higher up and make bending and reaching easier.
What you'll need: enthusiasm, commitment, and usually about $20 for the annual plot fee. For more information, check out the FSN Inventory to find community gardens near you, or if you are in St. John's contact the Cavell Park Community Garden that is looking for new gardeners.
A flour bouquet- for the romantic baker you adore
We can't take credit for this one, we're stealing it from the movie Stranger than Fiction. But it's a brilliant idea, BRILLIANT! Pick up a selection of odd and wonderful flours and present them to the romantic baker in your life, maybe tied with a ribbon like a bouquet. Odds are they'll think it's so lovely that there may be some fresh bread in your future.
What you'll need: an assortment of flours. We recommend going Atlantic and organic with Speerville Flour Mill. Look for their products at local grocery stores in the health food section.
Beginner canning kit- for the person that buys too much at the farmers' market
Farmers' markets are full of so many amazing colours, scents, tastes, and other sensory miracles. You can see why it's easy for someone to get home and realize they have 12 lbs of vegetables and aren't sure what to do with it all. If this sort of thing happens to someone you love, then they could probably benefit from a canning kit.
What you'll need: Bernardin starter canning kits run at about $35 each and can be purchased at grocery stores and Canadian Tire. Here's a handy-dandy coupon for $5 off.
Red wiggler worms- for an eco-friendly friend and for the planet
Some people may like surprise kittens with red bows, but your eco-friendly pal will get a thousand surprise pets (or 1lb of worms) as part of a start-up vermicompost bin! Right now in NL about 30% of what we send to landfills is organic waste that could be composted, and a worm bin in the kitchen is a great way to turn waste into compost gold.
What you'll need: about 1lb red wiggler worms, a plastic storage bin or wooden box, shredded up paper. For details on where to buy worms and how to set-up a vermicompost bin check out the MMSB website. Tip: put a card or note on the vermicompost bin with the MMSB website so that your new friend can learn to care for their one thousand new fantastic pets.
Seed saving envelopes and screen- for the community gardener
Community gardeners are known, obviously, for loving two things: community and gardening. They like any new opportunity to share the wonders of the plant world with friends, family, and any neighbourhood kids that they can fascinate with the glorious grossness of insects and mud. But community gardeners may not have considered that they are only seeing part of their beloved plants' life cycles if they always harvest them to eat. Print your community gardening friend off some cute seed packets like the free one here and make them a simple screen using a picture frame and some metal mesh. Point them in the direction of this Root Cellars Rock post, and they'll be on their way to whole new realms of seed saving plant nerdery.
What you'll need: a printer and paper for making the seed packets. An old picture frame, fine metal mesh and a staple gun to make the screen (see picture).
Homemade cookbook- for your sibling who likes to cook
Call up your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, your parents, whoever makes those dishes that really are the flavours of your family. Uncle Morgan's fluffy salad, Mom's stew or Grandma's cheese and sausage puffs, you get the idea. Pick up an inexpensive notebook and start filling in some of the recipes, bonus if you decorate the book too. Leave blank pages at the end for more recipes later. Be sure to photocopy the book for yourself too.
What you'll need: Some overdue phone calls to relatives, a notebook.
Ornaments made out of food- for your mom, because secretly she misses the cute things you used to make with dry noodles
Okay, realistically this is going to go over better as a gift if there are adorable grand-kids involved. There's the classics like popcorn and cranberry strings, gingerbread people, cookies on strings and dog biscuit reindeer (not technically edible for humans), but then the more hard core decorators on the internet have also come up with Chewy and Louie the gumdrop penguins, and stained glass candy ornaments. If those ideas don't inspire you, stick with what you know and try one of these noodle crafts; the pasta tiara especially rocks.
What you'll need: ingredients for your decorations of choice, ribbon or string for hanging the ornaments, a full stomach (don't eat them before you gift them!)
Homemade treats- for your beloved pet
Sometimes our pets get a bit neglected over the holidays with all the other stuff on the go, so show your loyal pal that you still care with one of these homemade treats. Here are some recipes for dogs, cats, rabbits, goldfish, ferrets, backyard chickens, and just for good measure, the neighbourhood birds.
What you'll need: ingredients for your recipe of choice