The Catskill region of Sullivan and surrounding counties associates June with the early-summer season. This means that fresh produce has begun to roll out of the fields and into the farmstands and our local farmers markets. Pull out recipes for crops like radishes, asparagus, the many varieties of lettuces, greens, herbs, rhubarb, scallions, and garlic scapes as you prepare to shop the season. You might even find some carrots and beets and strawberries at the market.
The season for fresh produce in our area moves quickly and is limited by long winter months, so don’t miss out on the specialties that June has to offer. It’s a great time to visit a market and try something new while you wait for mother nature to perfect still-growing summer favorites like tomatoes and cucumbers.
Sullivan County farmers won’t be able to offer a wider variety of fresh produce until the summer, but there are still plenty of other farm-sourced products that can be found throughout the year. Farms equipped with good storage, like a cellar or cold room, can store produce over the winter months that taste just as delicious as they did during the fall harvest. Overwintered produce you may be able to find in early June at local markets are potatoes apples, and onion varieties.
Many farms in Sullivan County also raise livestock and poultry to produce eggs, cheeses, milk, and many varieties of meat. If you incorporate protein into your diet, try a locally sourced omelet or burger seasoned with fresh herbs. If not, local honey and maple syrup are other year-round products that go great in salad dressings, marinades, and more.
What are Farmers Up To?
As trees and leaves have burst into green in your backyard, farmers have seen the same thing happen in their fields. Rain and warmer weather help plants charge into their growing cycle, meaning that June is a busy time for Catskills farmers. During early-summer, farmers hustle to keep up with newly transplanted crops, rotational grazing for livestock, watering systems (irrigation), and ever-growing weeds.
Some farmers are also busy clearing out structures like greenhouses or high tunnels (also known as hoop houses) that are used to grow products during seasons with tougher weather. High tunnels are semi-permanent buildings that trap warmth inside and make it easier for crops to grow when it’s too cold outside. Greenhouses are permanent buildings with ventilation and shade coverage systems that farmers adjust to create the right climate for their crops. Both structures extend the growing season on farms and contribute to differences in product availability between farms.
Nonetheless, June brings excitement as the fear of cold frosts dissipates and farmers’ markets start back up all over the county. Farmers and their families take great care to bring the best quality products to markets while earning a fair price for their hard work.
When visiting a market this season, remember to be patient with the ebbs and flows of farming and working with the land. Eating locally means eating seasonally, so when you shop this season, appreciate the offerings of early-summer and the fresh products that may not be around in the fall!