Valley Bounty: Garlic

Last October, Deb Habib began cracking bulbs of garlic and filling buckets to the brim with cloves. Deb runs Seeds of Solidarity Farm in Orange with her partner, Ricky Baruc, and as two of the founders of the annual Garlic and Arts Festival, the pair are local garlic experts. Through November, the pair tucked the cloves into shallow holes in the soil and covered them with a layer of compost. The garlic had just enough time to take root before winter swept in.

While next year’s cloves are biding their time under heaps of snow, last year’s local garlic bounty is lining Deb and Ricky’s shelves. During these cold months, Deb enjoys making her garlic smoked salmon spread. She tosses roasted garlic cloves in a blender with eight ounces of goat cheese and a ½ cup of smoked salmon. She adds salt, pepper, and lemon juice and then blends. Spread it on a slice of freshly baked bread for a tasty afternoon snack. You can find Deb’s garlic smoked salmon spread recipe, and more local bounty favorites, in her soon-to-be released book Making Love While Farming: A Field Guide to a Life of Passion and Purpose. If your garlic bulbs from last year’s final farmers’ market are beginning to sprout in your pantry, Deb suggests planting a few cloves in a pot and placing them by a sunny window. They won’t grow into full bulbs, but you’ll be able to trim the greens all spring long for a tasty garlic garnish.

As the snow melts through the end of March and into April, garlic plants will begin emerging from their winter dormancy. Remembering that thousands of young garlic stalks will be popping through the soil across the Valley in the weeks to come is a heartening thought. If thousands of little garlic cloves can make it through these last few frigid weeks of winter, I think we all can too.

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