Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rootin' Around

The wooden barn at Providence Farm, located on M-88 just outside of Eastport, was the platform for storytelling at ISLAND's root storage workshop, September 30. Attendees from as near as down the road and as far as Traverse City and Fife Lake filled the barn to share their experiences with storing root veggies.

The root storage workshop was the last in ISLAND's 2010 series of home food preservation workshops, which also included apricot, dilly bean, cucumber and tomato canning. Providence Farm, founded in 2002 and owned and operated by Ryan and Andrea Romeyn, is a CSA farm serving over 150 shares in the region. Their season runs 18 weeks, beginning in June, and offers over 70 in season vegetables as well as pasture-raised pork and chicken. A big thanks to Andrea and Ryan for their partnership and sharing their space! For more information about Providence Farm click here.

During the workshop, ISLAND events coordinator Yvonne Stephens demonstrated two storage methods. The first method using sand and a food-grade bucket. Participants alternated layers of sand and carrots in the bucket, which would then be stored in a cool place either in a house, garage or barn. The second method alternates layers of vegetables, such as potatoes, with newspaper in a cardboard box. Stephens suggests placing a screen inside the box walls to prevent creatures from tampering with the vegetables.

Throughout the evening people shared their personal experiences, offering stories of what has and hasn't worked; metal Coleman coolers, plastic coolers with a layer of insulation inside, basement bathtubs (no longer used for bathing in, of course), metal garbage cans buried in the earth, and the list goes on. Some told stories of root cellars they recalled from their childhood.

As we continue to relearn the skills of food preservation, these exchanges of ideas and open conversations become increasingly important in the handing down of techniques and information. So, as this winter approaches, experiment with root veggie storage. Research, read and try different methods. And we'll see you next year at the root storage workshop, armed with ideas to share!

A handout depicting construction of a basement storage room.
Layering sand and carrots in a food-grade bucket.

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