The Local Food Report

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. 

Ali Berlow

When I go out foraging I figure the worst things that could happen are mosquitoes, poison ivy, ticks - always ticks, and maybe some surly local wildlife.

Ali Berlow

Olivia Pattison, 30, is a bread baker living on Martha’s Vineyard.

“I’m an artist at heart,” she told me. “So I like to mix it up. I sprout things, and I ferment stuff, and I soak other things.”

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.

Ali Berlow

My friend Cindy Kane invited me over for lunch. She was going to make watercress soup and wanted to make sure I’d brought my boots because first we had to go foraging, get a bit wet and muddy and then go back to her kitchen to cook.

In 2008, a leafy Brazilian vegetable called taioba made its way to Martha’s Vineyard, putting down it roots. Even though it’s from a tropical climate, taioba can thrive here, if it’s taken care of.

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.

Last February during school vacation week, Island Grown Schools, the Vineyard’s farm to school program, hosted free bread and soup lunches every day of the week at some of the libraries. Not everyone can afford to go away on vacation. These lunches were part of a pilot program developed to help those families affected by food insecurity.

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.    

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