Peppers are the berry-fruits of plants in the genus capsaicin which are in the nightshade family, with tomatoes and eggplants. The spicy “chili peppers” and mild “sweet peppers” and “bell peppers” are all native to tropical parts of the Americas. Prehistoric remains of peppers have been found in Central and South America.
If you weren’t a gardener before, the COVID-19 pandemic may have inspired you to start a veggie garden. Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Fairfield, Maine, saw a 270% jump in orders the week the coronavirus pandemic was declared a national emergency. Many local nurseries sold out of vegetable transplants fast last spring, citing they couldn’t keep up with demand.
Farm fresh fruits and vegetables are a highlight of the Adirondack summer, but for those with limited incomes, this source of produce may be entirely inaccessible. A new offering at no cost to eligible seniors and individuals in need has been launched by a partnership of community groups this summer.
The Hamilton Healthy Food Connections program offers $20 nutrition certificates to all Hamilton County seniors who currently rely on delivered meals from the Warren/Hamilton County Office of the Aging meal sites. Hamilton County Community Action food pantry clients are also eligible.
In March, when Governor Cuomo signed the ‘New York State on PAUSE’ executive order, which mandated that all non-essential businesses in New York State had to close, farmer’s markets were exempted as essential retail businesses and, as such, allowed to open or remain open.
But, as concerns about the spread of COVID-19 grew, farmers market growers, gardeners, and managers, like other small business operators, found themselves rushing to come up with innovative contingency plans to modify their operations and employ solutions that would protect their livelihoods, as well as the health and well-being of their customers, market workers, and the community at large.
For many of us in the Adirondacks, the opening of our local farmers market is one of the real harbingers of summer. Some of the 800 markets and farm stands statewide are seasonal ones and have recently begun the process of opening, for a year like no other. In the aftermath of COVID-19, markets across the region are operating with new sets of rules designed to keep vendors and patrons safe.
With the fresh snow on the ground, perhaps making sure you get your servings of local vegetables, meat, and dairy isn’t at the top of your list. But there are ways to enjoy that farm fresh flavor at various locations around the Adirondacks, while still enjoying the new snow – winter farmers markets.
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