Fruit and vegetable season late but great
As Terry and John Cuddy gaze over their field of ripe blueberries, there is a sense of peace.
From their hilltop U-pick blueberry farm, you can see a valley of lush green hills and mist in the valley, not another house in sight. Ahh ... There is so much more meaning in buying food when it comes from local growers in the St. Croix River Valley.
Like many small farmers, the Cuddys find farming to be more than producing food; it is a calling of sorts. Their goal is to invite people to share a part of the country atmosphere and to help other's eat healthier and locally.
U-pick blueberry farms has opened and farmers' markets had a full supply of wonderful fresh produce in the St. Croix River Valley. Whether you want traditional early red potatoes, green beans or cabbage or gourmet herbs, it's all at the farmers' market now. If you're bored with conventional vegetables, you may want to try vegetables you don't see in the grocery stores, such as kohlrabi or Swiss chard, each tastes great in a white sauce.
Trying to improve your diet? "Super foods" are most nutritious when bought locally. Blueberries rich in anti-oxidants are available from Cuddy's Rush River Farm or Blue Ridge Farm near River Falls; both can we found on the website: www.farmfreshatlas.org Another locally available healthy choice is cancer-fighting broccoli, now plentiful at farmers markets.
Terry Cuddy suggests combining a visit to a local U-pick farm or farmers'market with other fun activities; making it an in-expensive half-day vacation. According to Terry, "People coming to pick blueberries at our farm just off of Hwy. 35, 30 miles south of Prescott, can visit the Great River Road Visitor Center in Prescott or even camp at St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park the day before picking blueberries. Another suggested favorite is to have lunch at the Smiling Pelican Bake Shop in Maiden Rock that serves weekend scones, cheesecake and triple-berry pie ...all made with berries from our farm."
According to Betty Van Someren, who farms north of Baldwin with her husband Doug, "The produce harvest was about two weeks behind normal, but with all the rain, local vegetables and fruits are beautiful and the season is in full swing."
Betty and Doug sell at the farm and at the Hudson and New Richmond Farmers Markets. Their farm specializes in potatoes and squash.
"We have Norland and nutty tasting Superior potatoes at the market now, along with three types of peas, onions and 18 other vegetables. Other farmers at the market are just starting to sell local sweet corn," said Betty.
To help you get out and enjoy buying some locally grown, healthy food here is a list of St. Croix Valley farmers' markets. Other direct buying farms are listed at www.farmfreshatlas.org
If you or your business is interested in helping to develop a locally sourced food system in the St. Croix River Valley, contact Ruth Hilfiker, the UW-Extension Commercial Horticulture Educator for St. Croix and Pierce Counties, at 715-684-3301 x5 or firstname.lastname@example.org.