The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler. Very soon, your favourite markets will be putting on their final show of the season with a glorious array of apples and pumpkins. How you wish you could continue to buy fresh local produce all year round…
Don’t despair! One of the many advantages of living in Montreal is that you can enjoy healthy, locally-grown food even during the months of the deep freeze.
In 2011, the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse, called Lufa Farms, was built in Montreal. Lufa Farms uses hydroponics to grow their produce, and because this is done in a greenhouse, it is a year-round operation. Fresh, colourful and juicy tomatoes are no longer just a summer luxury. Lufa’s pesticide-free, ecologically farmed food could be your solution to eating seasonal produce all year round. They also receive produce they cannot grow in a greenhouse from local farms.
[caption id="attachment_19287" align="alignnone" width="620"] Photo: Les Fermes Lufa[/caption]
So how does it work? You can go on their website and start by choosing a basket size. The size will depend on whether you are buying it as an individual or as a family as well as the amount of produce you think you will consume. Next you can customize your basket. Lufa Farms offers a wide range of products so you can try something new every week or order what you know your taste buds love. You are welcome to pay as you go, so you have the chance to try it out and see if it is for you! Finally you choose where you would like to pick up your weekly produce from over 100 drop-off locations in Montreal. Looking for ultimate convenience? Why not get a group of fresh-food fans together in your condo building and establish your own drop-off point?
[caption id="attachment_19303" align="alignnone" width="620"] Photo: Les Fermes Lufa[/caption]
Community Supported Agriculture
Buying fresh food year-round does not need to be limited to fruits and vegetables. There are many CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) options for meats, poultry, eggs and dairy as well. A CSA box or basket is similar to the distribution process mentioned above. You register with a farm for a certain number of weeks, choose your product(s) and quantity and then pick it up at the closest drop-off point.
A popular CSA with several drop-off points in Montreal is Ferme au Bonheur des Prés. This farm offers lamb, pork, turkey, other poultry and eggs all months of the year. The animals are pasture raised on 75 acres of natural farmland. The owners of the farm avoid using chemical products on their land and do not add hormones to the diet of the animals.
If food baskets are not your thing and you fancy a different approach to organic local food during those cold months, why not preserve some of that fresh produce from the warm summer months? There are many ways to get into canning and preserving food, from buying a book about it to browsing the internet for resources. But if neither of these choices convinces you, Montreal has a Preservation Society that offers workshops in food preservation. This could be a great activity for you and a friend or if you are new to the city, it could be a cool way to connect with new people. So before the cool autumn air rolls in and the market stalls have less and less produce, go out and get your favorite summer food and store it away to enjoy when your sandals are only a memory.
Winter in Montreal no longer requires hibernating in your cave and living off your fat – or frozen food and cardboard vegetables. Check out Lufa Farms, Community Supported Agriculture and the world of Mason jars, and you will enjoy healthy, local food all year round.