Some farms are dormant during the winter months and those that are operating have a slim picking of produce to sell when compared to the summer and fall months. Farm-to-table restaurants aim to serve local food to their customers, and they heavily rely on local farmers to bring them said produce.
“When we can’t get something in season, we’re not going to search for it outside of our reach,” Matthew Lintz, executive chief at Local Roots in Grandin Village, said.
There is a lot of planning going on between the chef and local farmers. Lintz says their seasonal menu depends on what is in-season and what farmers have to offer.
“Climate is such here that we can grow a lot of lettuces, and kales, and some of the more cold hardy crops during this time of year. But the pace definitely slows down,” Susanna Thornton, owner of Thornfield Farm, said.
She grows hardy leafy greens and root vegetables during the winter season, and continues to raise livestock for meat. She sells the meat and vegetables, along with cold storage vegetables, while also working on other operations on the farm to pass the time until spring rolls around.
Thornton says they primarily sell directly to customers through the Grandin Village Market, Sweet Donkey Coffee, and their farm share program. But they also sell to several local restaurants, such as Local Root.
Sometimes plans fall through. Thornton mentioned her carrot crops did not fair the winter weather well this season. Lintz says when these types of issues occur he makes sure that he can still support the farmer in a different way, such as buying another crop from them.
Even though the selection of produce is slim, Lintz uses various techinques, such as pickling and frying, to showcase the in-season items. He isn’t afraid to use unfamiliar vegetables either — allowing for new and diverse items on his menu.
Thornton says things will pick back up at the farm once the temperatures warm up, and she will begin growing flowers and other vegetables as well to sell.