Monday, October 22, 2012


I totally forgot to bring a camera, so I'll have to steal a picture from someone else who was present on Friday.

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I'm a minor, minor contributor to the OFRE group here in Edmonton.  This year I only went to one fruit pick (where we gleaned strawberries from a local U-Pick) because I managed to find easy sources of fruit elsewhere.  Pears from down the block, cherries from a farm found on Kijiji, and apples from a neighbour.  However, my tiny volunteerism scored big time on Friday.

One of our local market gardeners invited OFRE volunteers to clean out some of their veggie beds.  They had filled their storage sheds to capacity and could not make use or sell all that was in their fields quickly enough before the frost and snow hits for real.  Rather than waste all that good stuff in the field, a group of us went and did some heavy field work.

And it was tough work, partly because we felt the need for speed.  There were only 15 of us and our understanding was that whatever we didn't glean would return to the soil as compost.  That just felt so wasteful to me, so I dug and picked as fast as I could.  Also, there were comments from some number crunchers who calculated the speed at which we filled the big bags (1 bag per 1.5 minutes I think was shared at one point).   Now, I'm not really that competitive but I did feel like maybe I wasn't totally pulling my weight and needed to speed up.

By the end of 4 hours of picking, I was exhausted and we still needed to divvy up the goods.  That maybe doesn't sound hard, but some heavy lifting was required yet.

The produce was divided in half:  half for the volunteers and half for the Salvation Army.  A rough tally of the produce donated to the Salvation Army (who runs both a soup kitchen and a Food Bank) was:
  • 1000 lbs of potatoes (two varieties)
  • 100 lbs of purple carrots
  • 1000 lbs of cabbage (there was still so much left in the field that it didn't look like we touched it)
  • 500 lbs of beets

All of that had to be hauled to the Sally Ann cube van and hoisted into it.  It hurt but I hate looking like a wimp so I continued to lift and carry until it was done.  And every vehicle was filled like this for our personal use as well:

The beets don't even appear in the pictures because I gave all but one away.  We are not beet-lovers.  Beth and I are going to try one with our dinner tonight because I'd love to like beets.  Maybe this white beet will be different and I'll start to like them.  I also gave away some cabbages (really, three bags full is a lot but we do love cabbage in this house) and some potatoes.

I'm hoping that my cold room is cool enough to keep the potatoes and carrots for a while, but it's not actually vented to the outdoors.  It's just uninsulated from the outdoors and insulated from the heat of the house.  To make sure that I don't waste all of the potatoes, I've been dehydrating some of them.  Precooked and sliced for scalloped potatoes, and as hashbrowns as well.  They're turning out great, but it's a fair bit of work.  It should be easy meals for the winter though.

How do you store root veggies to make them last?

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