Elspeth Hay

An avid locavore, Elspeth lives in Wellfleet and writes a blog about food. Elspeth is constantly exploring the Cape, Islands, and South Coast and all our farmer's markets to find out what's good, what's growing and what to do with it. Her Local Food Report airs Thursdays at 8:30 on Morning Edition and 5:45pm on All Things Considered, as well as Saturday mornings at 9:30.

Elspeth Hay

Have you ever noticed how some blueberries are light blue and others are dark navy? How some are tart and some are sweet? Some tiny and some huge? This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with the owner of a pick-your-own blueberry farm in Dennis about what varieties he grows and why. 

Photo by Elspeth Hay

  

Strawberry season, in my family, is a religious thing. We pick strawberries in late June every year, all together, no matter what. 

Elspeth Hay

In the heart of downtown Hyannis, Hy West Elementary School faces a unique set of socioeconomic challenges. Compared to student population averages at school districts and statewide, Hyannis West has a disproportionate number of low-income students: 57 percent of the school’s student body is considered economically disadvantaged, almost double the average statewide. But in addition to that, School Garden Coordinator Sue LaVallee says there’s a wide array of other challenges.

Elspeth Hay

Rachel Hutchinson of Brewster has a deep respect for local clams.

“The Northern Quahog, or our hardshell clam, is a very important species all over Cape Cod," Hutchinson says. "It’s been here since Indian times, so it’s kind of one of our level species, something shell fishermen have always had to harvest. Where there have been booms and busts in other species, the quahog has always been a dominant species for our wild harvesters, as well as for our aquaculture industry.”

Elspeth Hay

A small crowd of people at the Plimoth Grist Mill recite excitedly in unison, “One, two three: Water on!” One of the millers and a group of visitors are starting the water wheel at the same site where the Pilgrims built the first American grist mill in 1636. The replica mill, operated by Plimouth Plantation, works not only as an exhibit but also as a modern-day production facility. Kim Van Wormer and Matt Tavares are the millers. 

Ali Berlow

On the Local Food Report we’ve been thinking a lot about the why: why we make this show every week. Since we started in 2008 we’ve learned a lot about our local harvest, activism, and traditions. But we wanted to remind listeners why we’re interested in covering local food in the first place. So we asked co-hosts Elspeth Hay and Ali Berlow to give us their motivations.

K.C. Myers

If you live on the Cape, you’ve maybe heard of the Ballston Beach overwash. It’s the spot on the ocean side in Truro where the Perfect Storm broke through in 1991. One relatively low sand dune is the only thing here between the ocean and the Pamet River, which cuts through Truro east to west from Cape Cod bay. George Mooney’s family farm is a quarter mile inland from the ocean beach.

Elspeth Hay

I grew up in Maine and up there, this time of year we eat fiddleheads. Fiddleheads are the tightly coiled tips of spring ferns—specifically, ostrich ferns—and they taste kind of like asparagus once they’re cooked. Until last week, I didn’t think you could find them locally.

Boris Smokrovic / unsplash.com

John Portnoy of Wellfleet raises his own bees. He has one Russian colony headed by a Russian queen that he purchased. His other hives are headed by queens that are survivors, so he bred from his best queens every year in the hopes that his bees will get better and more locally adapted. 

Elspeth Hay

Around 2006, beekeepers and scientists started talking about something called colony collapse disorder. CCD at that time was a new phenomenon; suddenly whole hives of worker bees started disappearing, leaving behind a queen, plenty of food, and a few nurse bees. Ever since, scientists have been trying to figure out why.    

Elspeth Hay

Most farmers and gardeners are just starting to get seeds in the ground. But Jeff Deck of Dennis uses a different model. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth visits the two greenhouses where he grows year round. She learns what varieties do well over the winter, and how he plants for a continuous harvest. 

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“Pawpaw is a tree that will grow here, and was growing here, actually, before the Europeans came,” Eliza Travesino said, as we stood in her Brewster backyard nursery, which holds about a thousand tiny trees. “It can grow from about 12-to-25 feet. It needs a few individuals to pollinate, it’s not self pollinating. And it also produces fruit”

Elspeth Hay

Two years ago my family started keeping chickens. Since then, we’ve raised birds for eggs and for meat, and we’ve always gotten the baby chicks at our local farm store. But this season I started wondering, what would it take to get a hen to hatch a few fertilized eggs on her own?

Elspeth Hay

For the past several years my family has been a part of a grain and bean CSA. I did a piece about it in this series in 2010. Every December we get one-hundred pounds of grain, like corn and oats, grown in New York and Massachusetts. We also get spelt, and I haven’t always known what to do with it, but the other day, my friend Ed Miller of Wellfleet, introduced me to his spelt bread. 

 

Elspeth Hay

During the growing season, Sarah Smith spends most of her time taking care of other people’s gardens—it’s her job. She also has a young son at home, and between these demands, she likes to keep her home garden easy and fun. 

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