Residents of Syracuse’s South Side have been going green in urban farms with lush tomatoes, ripe radishes, succulent lemon cucumbers and enough fruits and vegetables to fill your salad bowls and bellies.
But what happens in the winter, when frost ices over the soil and the biting cold makes it a harsh environment for anything to grow?
The South Side is home to community members who successfully bring fresh food initiatives to fruition. They pose a healthy alternative to numerous corner stores that community organizer Phil Phren calls “ATF stores — alcohol, tobacco and firearms.” However, the cold weather makes fresh produce even more inaccessible to South Siders.
Community gardener Mable Wilson encourages residents to take advantage of South Side’s own Farm Fresh Mobile Market. Residents can still get their fresh fix around the neighborhood in chilly weather by taking the following simple steps says Jessi Lyons, team coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension at Onondaga County and a member of Syracuse Grows.
- Gardeners often store their produce in cans or freeze their vegetables to keep them fresh. Pick up harvested produce at your local garden while the weather is still warm and freeze to preserve.
- Freeze fruits and vegetables at peak ripeness after washing.
- Sprinkle sugar on fruit that will be served uncooked after freezing. For fruits that will be cooked after freezing, mix a syrup of sugar and water and pour over. Freeze in sealed plastic bags.
- Blanch produce in boiling water to preserve vitamins. Immediately after, put them in iced or cold water. Drain and pack in sealed plastic bags to freeze.
- Contact your local community gardener. Many community gardeners donate their produce to neighbors and family members.
- Visit your local food pantry. Produce from gardens and nearby markets are also donated to pantries and some offer fresh produce in the form of ready-made salads.
- Stock up on collard greens, which will be grown at West Newell Street Community Garden through December.
- Stop at Jimmy’s Super Saver grocery store on the corner of East Raynor Avenue and South State Street. Jimmy’s is a rare location on the South Side that carries fresh tomatoes, onions, bananas, cabbage and more, all delivered daily.
- Visit the Farm Fresh Mobile Market. As a traveling produce stand, this initiative aims at giving people access to nutritious food. It stops at specific locations Tuesday through Friday each week.