Valley Bounty: Beets

I think we’re all ready to leave 2018 in the rearview but with winter stretching out ahead of us, last year’s hearty storage crops will remain on the menu for months to come. In the Valley, the local harvest keeps coming as farmers, like Rachel and Tevis Robertson-Goldberg from Crabapple Farm, pull root crops out of their coolers throughout the cold months.

The Pioneer Valley got drenched in 2018 and when I spoke with Rachel earlier this week, she explained that their land in Chesterfield was no exception. At Crabapple Farm, their big planting of beets was scheduled for July, but a massive rainstorm hit. With the fields waterlogged, Rachel delayed the planting. In the following weeks a series of storms hit the farm and eventually Rachel was forced to plant her beets into soaked conditions. The damage was done – Rachel and Tevis’s storage coolers were only a quarter full going into this winter.

Despite the lean crop, Rachel has been enjoying her favorite winter beet salad. She peels and boils the beets in a little bit of water until tender, then cuts them into chunks. She toasts pecans or walnuts in a dry skillet with a drizzle of maple syrup. To pull it all together, she tosses it onto a bed of fresh greens and tops with crumbled feta and a balsamic vinaigrette. While they eat, Rachel and Tevis have been asking themselves challenging questions. Was the rain soaked 2018 an anomaly? Or was it a sign of times to come as our planet shifts in the era of climate change?

Luckily for all of us, Valley farmers persevered through the challenging 2018 season and the winter farmers’ markets are still piled high with local food. Next time you swing by the market, just be sure to stoke a bit of optimism for a drier 2019.

Valley Bounty is written by Noah Baustin of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)