Valley Bounty: Asparagus

Somehow, at the end of a seemingly interminable winter, we have cycled around again to asparagus season. If you had told me anytime before the age of, say, nineteen that I would someday eagerly anticipate the seasonal availability of a local vegetable with enthusiasm well beyond anything I can now muster for a concert, I’m sure I would not have believed you, and yet here we are. Probably in part it’s just a result of enough years of buying my own groceries, though there is something about living in the Valley that makes it hard to escape asparagus-mania.

The long and storied history of “Hadley grass” has much to do with the town’s other namesake, “Hadley silt loam”—a variety of soil named after the town in which it was first identified (though it is found throughout the Connecticut River valley and beyond), and which is particularly well-suited to growing asparagus. That, combined with generations of hard work on the part of local farms, is a big part of the reason for this local crop’s global fame.

Local asparagus is good enough that I almost never want to dilute the flavor by getting too fancy with it — throw it on the grill and then season it with a little salt and pepper, that should be plenty.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)