How a lavishly stocked winter pantry is the heart of food security

September 15, 2021

To be interested in food but not in food production is clearly absurd.

~Wendell Berry~



I was introduced to Wendell Berry many, many years ago by a good friend who recommended his book, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. I was aware that small scale family farms were being destroyed by an overburdening regulatory system and that the families who cared for these farms were being displaced by large scale agribusiness. Mr. Berry speaks to us all through his writings whether we tend farms or live in an urban setting. Food is something we all have in common. We all need to eat.


When World War II ended our local farm economies saw a dramatic shift to a centralized system of factory farming. No longer could we or did we want to connect with local farmers who put their heart and soul into raising nutritious food for their local community. In the name of convenience, our grandparents and parents turn to the supermarket for food that was trucked in from unknown locations. Instead of visiting local farms to purchase our meat, veggies, baking and dairy foods, they opted for the ease of “getting it all” in one place. 


Unfortunately, we learned from their example and have followed in their footsteps, much to the detriment of our health and well-being. Writers like Wendell Berry have been trying to awaken us from this trance we are in. After all these years it seems that their efforts have been futile. But, there is always a glimmer of hope that shines through the darkness.

I feel that I am one of the fortunate people who had the opportunity to have a warm and caring relationship with my grandparents. I had a deep desire to learn from them and they were willing teachers. Without them my world view on food would definitely have fallen into the mindset of “get it cheap, get is easy.” I had the opportunity to work side by side with them, learning as I shadowed them in their work.


I was born on their farm to a single mother who loved me enough to keep me. My mother knew the value of family. My grandparents didn’t shun their daughter in a time when society did. Even when my mother did marry a year later the farm remained an integral part of my life. I would beg to be at the farm, which I was usually allowed to be on weekends. Then my grandparents retired and moved to town. But that didn’t stop them from bringing what they could of the farm with them.


They purposefully purchased the lot their house was on plus an adjacent vacant lot. This new home was filled with fruit trees, berry bushes, and gardens. The farm was where I fell in love with the animals; the town “homestead” is where my passion blossomed for growing things in the soil. 


To this day I have never lost any of these loves. I recently celebrated by 57th birthday. I realize daily the deeper sense of their necessity in our lives. Since the beginning of this global “pandemic” I have felt in my spirit that it is absolutely essential that I don’t keep this knowledge to myself any longer.


I have to admit that in a world of technology the written word and pictures are the approach that I am comfortable teaching by. That is why I love blogging. I love teaching in-person in small groups. Teaching via video scares the heck out of me, but very slowly I am learning to give it a try once in a while.


Enough of my chit chat for know. I know you are here to because you also believe that it is important that we take food security seriously by learning to take the power away from the centralized system and bring it back to our homes and communities.


Join me as I take you on a little tour of what our past week looked like as we head into autumn.


This was the week at the end of summer that I always dread. That time when Jack Frost makes his first appearance. I am an early riser so am always checking the thermometer. Thus far I have not seen a freezer temperature, but that doesn’t always mean it hasn’t come. 


Monday morning I was starting to get concerned so I made an absolutely arbitrary decision that this would be the day the tomatoes, tomatillos, zucchini and snap beans were going to be harvested. With the help of my wonderful WWOOFers (ask me what this it) we got this all done. These are all frost sensitive plants. Jack Frost had indeed made an appearance, but only in a few select spots. One small patch of cherry tomatoes were touched, but not the whole plant. These Tom Thumb tomatoes are like a small, round mound of plant. The tomatoes on the top of the plant didn’t make it, but underneath they did. The rest of the garden remained unscathed.


The tomatoes and tomatillos are still green, but will ripen over the next few weeks. Many times we will still have our homegrown tomatoes up to Christmas. The last picking of beans were canned and will be added to the cold room shelf for use this winter. Some of the zucchini was made into relish while the ones that remain will be chopped, mixed with onions and red peppers and frozen. We love fried zucchini so will experiment with freezing slices that we can fry up this winter. And last, but not least we harvested the broccoli that was ready.

There is much more that still remains in the garden. All the brassica, which include cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi and kale are still grown well. This family likes cooler weather. They will stay in the garden until just before we start to get hard frosts. 


All the root veggies are still growing well. We will slowly be harvesting the potatoes, carrots, beets and onions to add to our growing supply of winter food.

My goal for this winter is to put together a booklet with simple instructions showing how we process food for storage. Be sure to follow us to receive notification when this is ready.


This has gotten long winded so I better say goodbye for now. I hope you will all find something that you can add to your pantry that will sustain you through the winter. If you didn’t grow it yourself I encourage you to find a local farmer that has lovingly grown food and purchase from them.


Not only can you “put up” veggies, but also meat. Our animals have been grazing lush pastures all summer and are ready to provide us with nutrient dense food that will nourish our bodies. 


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Sue King

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