Winter Harvest

text and photos by David Homa

Happy New Year!  And welcome back winter.  The blizzards like conditions don’t seem to lend themselves to harvesting food.  Rather, huddling next to the wood stove and perusing seed catalogs seems just right.  However, just days ago I was harvesting greens and wild mushrooms.  Winter in Maine is not without greenery or adventure.

I rang in the New Year in the low key setting of my Otisfield residence. I awoke to January 1st , threw on some boots and headed out to the green houses and hoop houses.  The harvest included spinach, kale, carrots, beets, and onions.  What a way to start the year!  Obliviously, the greenhouse provisions are less than the summer time harvest, but it’s January and that’s pretty damn good.

The woods beyond the gardens contain wintery jewels as well.  Mushrooms… Chaga and Reishi reside in those woods.  I must say that I was feeling rather confident in find these treats.  Several hours later I returned home, no ‘shrooms.   Fortunately, some days later I came upon eruptions of Chaga on a Yellow Birch.  Success!

I know what you are thinking… “This hippy is living off greens and mushrooms?”  Well I’m not… there are beans too.  Winter brings the need for a diverse food acquisition portfolio.  My survival relies on food saving through canning, drying and fermenting, alongside greenhouse growing and wild harvesting.

Oh, I forgot a very important survival technique… Community.  Since November, the Urban Farm Fermentory has been hosting The Portland Permaculture Trading Post/ Swap events.   With no money in had a person can bring items (herbs, seeds, ferment, tinctures, teas, handmade crafts, or plants) and leave with some things that make the winter days lengthen.  So on the second Sunday of every month; the smiling faces in the late winter afternoon are brought on by successful trades, Chaga for garlic or cheese for sourdough bread.  No money, no problem… community is accepted… surplus is distributed.

So this is how the doldrums of season are abolished… some local herbal tea blends with culture.honey, a salad of fresh greens, and sitting by the stove looking at one of those seed catalogs.