“The farm we run in northern New York produces a full diet, year-round, for 200 people,” writes Essex Farm‘s Kristin Kimball, author and essayist for Gourmet Live. “We have two greenhouses here, but we use them for plants mainly in the spring, to get a jump on our 100 days of frost-free growing weather. In the winter, the greenhouses shelter our flock of laying hens, so the produce we eat this time of year comes from the root cellars, or occasionally from the freezer, but never from the greenhouses.
“It has been years now since I’ve craved, in winter, the kind of greens most people think of as salad. Much as I love them in season, once it gets cold I don’t want them. They seem too insubstantial. It’s possible this is some kind of physical wisdom, since greenhouse greens can be high in nitrates. (Their growth, limited by light, is too slow to assimilate all the nitrogen in the soil.)
“For Mark and me, there is also the question of where to invest energy. Greenhouses can be real propane hogs, burning lots of fossil fuel to produce very few calories. There are methods of growing in unheated systems called high tunnels, and some farmers do this very well, but on our farm, we focus on filling bellies, and high tunnels seem too labor-intensive for a relatively small return, nutritionally. In the kitchen, I actually enjoy the relative limits of this season. It’s the aisles of big supermarkets—untethered from the seasons—that tend to leave me cold.”
Read about weathering the winter deliciously and try Kale à la Kristin Kimball.