Folks who hate running to the store in the winter will love Pete's Greens' new "Good Eats" CSA share. While the basic version of the community-supported agriculture arrangement supplies weekly portions of roots, squash and greens - with enticing extras such as frozen strawberries and tomatoes - subscribers can upgrade with a bread-and-cheese or "localvore" add-on, or both. The "localvore" combo fills out the pantry with sunflower oil, yogurt and cream, oyster mushrooms, natural sweeteners, dried beans, sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented veggies, prepared foods and a multitude of grains.
Pete Johnson believes his Craftsbury farm is the only one in the country to offer such a comprehensive CSA. Because "Americans are used to having a lot of options," Johnson says, the vegetables he grows for his basic CSA package include out-of-the-ordinary varieties such as Forona beets, black Spanish radishes and the fractal-formed Romanesco cauliflower. For the localvore share, he's sending staff to the Vermont Food Venture Center in Fairfax, where they prepare pesto, salsa and "everything-but-the-kitchen-sink soup."
With only 80 to 100 shares available for the winter, anyone who wants to get in on the goods will have to act quickly. Johnson says the "diverse crowd" that has already signed up includes "hard-core gardeners who would never do a summer CSA." Members will be able to snag their weekly shares at his farm, or at other central Vermont pick-up points.
Johnson says providing the localvore share is "not going to be profitable" - at least not in the beginning. But he believes it's an important step in establishing Vermont's sustainable-food infrastructure. Opting for local ingredients is a current fad, but "if energy becomes really expensive," Johnson suggests, it may be the only option.
Visit http://www.petesgreens.com for a list of Pete's pick-up points and other "Good Eats" info.