7 ways to source your summer produce outside the supermarket

(This post was originally published in March, 2011.)

It is freezing as I write today, but that hasn’t stopped me from gazing out on our future garden spot and visualizing the raised beds full of lettuce, zucchini, herbs and tomatoes. Winter still has a few more weeks to rage and blow before it gives way to spring, however, one can’t help but think about pending arrival of fresh greens and tender fruits.

April is a good time to start making plans for how you will source your summer produce. If you live in the city, now is the time to sign up for a spot in the community gardens. If you are more rural, you should be putting in a seed order right about now. Not into gardening, but want farm fresh vegetables? Then perhaps you should be calling around and getting your name on a list for a CSA basket.

The first crisp asparagus spears and strong rhubarb shoots will be poking up through the ground before you know it. Here are seven ways to source your summer produce that don’t involve a shopping cart and a supermarket.

Seven ways to source your summer produce

1. Backyard Garden

We are planning to raise the majority of our produce this summer, making good use of the raised beds that Danny built.

Whether you have a large plot or a few planters on a balcony, nothing tastes as good as home grown fruits and vegetables.

2. Community Garden

Are you an urban dweller with a penchant for getting your hands dirty? A local community garden might suit you very well and provide you with leafy greens and herbs all summer long. Act fast, though; the plots are usually snatched up quickly and there is often a waiting list.

3. CSA

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): A “subscription” service of fruits and veggies, purchased directly from the farm on a regular basis, and sometimes even delivered to your front door. Hurry, farmers are gearing up for planting and some have a cut-off date to sign up for their baskets.

4. Farmer’s Markets and city open air markets

We’re lucky to have fantastic markets in Montreal. The closest is a mere ten minutes away from me, which came in pretty handy last June when I hosted my family reunion and we were going through a flat of strawberries a day.

5. Roadside Stand

There are at least three fruit & vegetable stands along the short drive to my son’s school. They are owned and operated by local farms and provide fresh-picked produce daily. I’m a frequent shopper from the day they open to the day they close. I don’t always have room in my refrigerator for a dozen ears of corn or a giant watermelon, so I like to buy what I need for the day and no more.

If you’re traveling out of the city, keep your eyes peeled for those handmade signs that boast ‘farm fresh eggs’ and the dusty kiosks that sell the sweetest strawberries. Ask for pointers from people who know the area well, and take the scenic route once in a while – you never know what you may stumble upon.

6. Farm/U-Pick

When time affords it, we head directly to the farms to get our strawberries, raspberries, apples and pumpkin. Produce doesn’t get any fresher and it makes for a fun family outing.

7. Urban Foraging

Nope, this isn’t dumpster-diving, but a recent movement to harvest the neglected fruit from public urban areas. You may be surprised at the bounty found in city parks, alleyways and river banks.

These sites have it down to a science.

Sowing a garden? Signing up for CSA? How will you source your produce this summer? I’d love to hear!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Wayne J. Nice says

    Love it!! Thank you for your amazing blog!

  2. We have had a summer CSA the past 4 years, but this year we are going to try and really garden. I garden every year, but this year I am going to try a little harder 🙂 We also have a great farmers’ market that I am sure I will be visiting a lot.

  3. So many great ideas here, big and small! And that lovely picture of rhubarb really has me even more excited for it to come in the markets here. Thanks, Aimee!

  4. This is our first Spring in a new area so I’m looking forward to finding the roadside stands and farmer’s market this year.

  5. I am helping to launch a farmers market in my town so I hope to get lots of my produce from our three farmers this year! It will be on Sundays so I can use some for a big family dinner to start the week off right.
    We are also planning on installing some raised beds, I even sent my husband the post that Danny wrote to inspire him into action. 😉

  6. Excellent wrap-up. Thanks for promoting easy ways to eat locally!

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