The inaugural Canadian Agriculture Literacy Week began on February 26 and will be wrapping up on March 3, 2012. Schools across the country have been participating in the hands-on program, which is teaching children about agriculture and encouraging them to celebrate the industry by connecting them with farmers, local food sources and in some cases, taking them on tours of area farms. Across the province, over 1,100 students in grades 3, 4, and 5 have been delighting in presentations about local agriculture, organized by the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture (NLFA) and the Department of Natural Resources.
As the days get shorter and the temperatures begin to plummet, I begin craving those warm, hearty meals that fill the soul (and stomach!). I try to put to good use the wonderful bounty of food harvested from my own backyard, local farmers, and in wild places around the City. The wonderful thing about veggie cobbler is that you can use differen combinations of vegetables depending on what's in your fridge, as well as personal taste. Many of the ingredients I used, such root vegetables and the herbs, were grown right here in Newfoundland! Challenge yourself to see how much of this dish you can make from locally grown produce.
(for the filling):
- 1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into a 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups each peeled and thinly sliced carrots, beets, and celery
- 1/2 cup diced butternut squash
- 3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup zucchini
- 1 large onion and green onion each, quartered and thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 1/2 vegetable bouillon cubes dissolved in 1 1/4 cups hot water
- 1 cup milk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp sage
- 2 tsp parsley
- 2 tsp savoury
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
(for the topping):
- 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F. On medium heat on the stovetop, place the potato, carrots, beets, celery, and butternut squash in a medium-sized pot and fill with enough water to cover the vegetables plus one inch. Bring to a boil, then allow the vegetables to continue boiling for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse the vegetables with cold water and then set them aside.
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, deep skillet. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté them, stirring often until they're soft for about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook the mixture, stirring nonstop, another 30 seconds. Add the vegetable broth, milk, salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, and sage (these herbs came right out of my garden and were pre-dried to provide me with flavour all winter long!). Continue to stir until the sauce thickens, about 4 minutes.
- Add the vegetables to the sauce and stir well. Add more salt and pepper, if desired, then stir in the Parmesan and bring the filling to a simmer. Thin it with water if its consistency is thicker than potato soup. Transfer to a casserole dish or a large pot, like the cast iron one shown above.
- Make the corn bread topping. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk, egg, and oil and stir until evenly blended. Spread the batter over the filling. Bake the cobbler until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbly, about 30 minutes. Allow it to cool slightly before serving. Serves 8.
The key to success in this recipe is to have fun; don't be afraid to experiment with the ingredients and make this recipe into your very own!
Pass it on! There are two great new resources available now to help you find your local farmers! The wait is over and you can check out both the Buy Local! Buy Fresh! Avalon Region Map and the Newfoundland and Labrador Farm Guide! (That's a lot of exclamation marks, but we definitely think they're worth it for something this exciting!)
This past weekend was an exciting one - Saturday, June 6th, 2009 marked the first Farmers' Market of the second season for the St. John's Farmers' Market, and the first Farmers' Market of the first season for the West Coast Farmers' Market in Corner Brook .
90% of the fresh vegetables available in Newfoundland & Labrador are imported, leaving only 10% produced locally. Major Wholesalers have indicated that due to this reliance on imported foods, the province would only have a 2-3 day supply of perishable vegetables in the event of a crisis that disrupted supply.
-"Wholesale & Other Opportunities in the Vegetable Industry of NL" Dept. of Natural Resources, Forestry & Agrifoods Agency
This statistic is what so many initiatives happening across the province are working towards correcting, including the recent sprout of Farmers Markets.
The St. John's Farmers' Market has only just begun its second year, and already a huge difference can be seen. The beginning of the St. John's Farmers Market in 2008 did not appear, to the untrained eye, to be much of a typical 'Farmers' Market'. The vendors consisted of craftspeople, bakers, artisans, and a couple farmers. This limited number of farmers lead to some negative attention and overall concern for the survival of a Farmers Market in the St. John's region.
Newfoundland has been pegged as "The Rock" by many and along with this there is a common belief that nothing can be grown on this "Rock" of ours, especially considering the extreme weather conditions and short growing season. With this, the notion of a Farmers Market seems to be somewhat out of reach.
First of all, despite what you may have heard, you can in fact grow food on the rock, you just may need to be a little more creative as to how you grow & selective in terms of what you grow.
Second of all, Farmers' Markets, as evidenced by this past Saturday help encourage those farmers that are growing, raising, producing our food to produce more, and to produce what it is that people want to eat.
The first St. John's Farmers' Market in 2008 was bare in terms of local food. Now, here we are, a mere year later and the first St. John's Farmers' Market of 2009 is full of garden-fresh spring vegetables, potted herbs, and flowers, on top of delicious baked goods, hot meals, crafts, artwork, and much much more. After seeing the potential opportunity of the Farmers' Market in the 2008 season, Farmers' spent the winter months planning for the June start of the St. John's Farmers' Market 2009 season. Seedlings were started early in greenhouses, and crops were selected based upon success from the previous year.
Not only is there increased local demand and supply of fresh food in the St. John's region, there is also stimulated interest around Farmers' Markets across the province. The West Coast Farmers' Market had its' first successful market this past Saturday, June 6th with regular markets beginning on July 11th through until October 31st, and Conception Bay South is planning to start a Farmers' Market this coming August.
By working together, attending Farmers' Markets, starting Farmers' Markets, and purchasing food produced locally, we can become more engaged with our food system, and flip that statistic around.
Let's make it heard - You can Grow Food on this Rock of ours!
For more information about the West Coast Farmers Market, visit http://wecnl.ca/Farmers_Market/Farmers_Market.html or email Corinne Hynes at email@example.com