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don’t forget to look in your own backyard!

Comstock Ferre in Wethersfield, Connecticut

Comstock Ferre in Wethersfield, Connecticut

I was teaching my gardening class a few weeks ago for our town’s Parks and Rec department. The topic was “Banishing the Winter Blues, Dusting Off Your Green Thumb.” During the course of the evening, we talked about the various mail order seed companies. One student interjected, what about Comstock Ferre and Company? Wow, that was a major “Duh” moment. After lecturing about the importance of local eating and growing, how could I forget a treasure like the venerable (since 1811) local seed company in our own backyard. I’ve included a few pictures below from my visit yesterday, but my point here is to remind all to check for local resources and support them! Wherever you live, look around — ask around — Google around. What’s in your own backyard? Who are your neighbors who are producing and selling what you need. 

Comstock, Ferre & Co.

For those of you who are not from Connecticut, or who may not have heard of Comstock, this seed company was started over 200 years ago. It’s located in historic Old Wethersfield and is worth the visit even if all you do is look around and take in its Colonial ambiance. There are wonderful wide pine floors, wooden bins, and drawers full of seed packets and seed growing accessories, foods and crafts, and more. There’s a whole room full of antique equipment.  Here are a few glimpses of what you’ll find.

antique implements

antique implements

IMAG4186

and classes, too

seeds!

seeds!

Check out their website for their listing of spring classes. As a community service, nearly every Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. they have a garden/food-related class. Topics are quite diverse and include themes such as organic gardening, spring greens, kitchen knives, lawn care, and more. And most classes are free! I went to one yesterday that they did in conjunction with Wind Hill Community Garden. Randel Agrella, Comstock’s very knowledgeable general manager, discussed “Everything You Wanted to Know about Seeds.”  It was great! Learned lots about heirloom seeds, seed starting, seed savings, and general gardening. He pointed out that with the right conditions (cool and dry) most seeds can easily last three years or more.

and more seeds!

and more seeds!

In the summer (August 4th) I’ll be doing a canning class there at 1:00 p.m. Be sure to come!

 How pretty is this picture? This is a shot of Glastonbury’s own community farm, Wind Hill Community Farm. While this farm has been somewhere on my consciousness for a few years, it finally reached my radar a few weeks ago when the Executive Director asked if I’d consider teaching a canning class. Well, that was a no-brainer, of course I would. But her call just whetted my appetite to learn more about this nonprofit venture.

dairy farm recycle

As I understand, the Town of Glastonbury purchased this dairy farm to conserve open space and Wind Hill Farm operates on a portion of the land. Last year was their first full year of operation and they got off to a great start.  They offered raised-bed plots for seasonal rental (organic only, thank you!). At the gardens you’ll find compost pile, well water, and folks willing to offer gardening advice. But check out their web site for the other community outreach activities such as plant sales, farm-to-table hosted dinners, classes, food demonstrations, and more. All the activities that you would expect from a community farm.

and more this year

For 2013, in addition to the organic raised bed plots, Wind Hill Farm is offering modest CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. I was invited to help make the seed selection, and I can tell you that there will be wonderful goodies in your weekly basket, such as lettuces, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, and more. If you are interested in more information, contact them directly. Their class offerings include gardening, seed selection, cooking, canning (of course), and more. As you would expect, the cost of the classes is a nominal $10 per session. Then, beginning in May and continuing through October, there will be cooking and tasting demonstrations on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. I know that I’ll want to take in as many of these yummy events as I can with chefs from Pond House Grill, Birch Hill Tavern, Whole Foods Market, and others still to be announced. You can register for classes and tasting event on their web site.

community farms, our local resource!

It’s community farms like this that help keep our food supplies local and help to educate folks about the importance of food and land stewardship.

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