By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — Here’s the bad news: summer is officially over. The crispy red and orange leaves that have just begun to skitter across driveways on breezy mornings will soon pile up and require raking, and there’ll be frost on our windshields before the morning commute.
But there’s good news, too. The end of barbecue season doesn’t mean local produce is out of reach. Farms and grocers close to home will sell an array of flavorful fresh greens (and reds, oranges and browns) for longer than you might expect.
“We still have tomatoes. We have squash, cucumbers, a variety of cherry tomatoes, corn, apples, pears,” said Cliff Bard, owner of Bard’s Farm on Rosendale Road in Niskayuna.
It might get chilly at the outdoor farmers market on Upper Union Street, open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Coldwell Banker parking lot, but the vendors are undeterred. They’ll set up shop through the first day of November.
“They’ll have wine, syrup, beets. . . . Some places you can get it all year round,” Bard said.
If he still has produce left over, Bard will keep his Saturday farm stand at 2395 Rosendale Road open even later in the season. There, produce is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. “I usually close down once most everything is done,” he said. “The last thing I have is winter squash. If I don’t have it, and I can’t get it local, I won’t do it anymore.”
He usually closes for the year sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
For those looking to pile the Thanksgiving table with local produce, Lansing Farm Market on Lishakill Road may be the answer. Owner Jessica Lansing says she will keep selling produce through the day before Thanksgiving, if all goes as planned.
“Up until that point, we have everything that’s in season: your winter squashes, your hardy greens like collards and spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower; . . . depends on the season,” she said.
Lansing said although she’s always a little sad to close for the season, the silver lining is being able to visit some nearby, year-round markets, where she gathers her fresh winter fare. She attends the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market, located in the Uncle Sam Atrium, from November to April, and the Schenectady Greenmarket, which moves into Proctors for the same stretch.
“I work our farm stand on Saturdays, so I can’t go to farmers markets during the regular year,” she said. “I just think it’s a great experience.”
Jeannine Taft, produce manager of 35 years at the Niskayuna Co-op, listed an impressive roster of regional vendors on her shelves: Wellington’s Herbs and Spices in Schoharie, Parsons Vegetable Farm in Sharon Springs, Knight Orchards in Burnt Hills, Stanton’s Feura Farm and Markets in Feura Bush, and Hope Valley Farm in Hope Falls, among others.
But even the most ardent local buyers know some things just can’t grow in New York state in winter, and so Taft also recommends the baby artichokes they stock from Four Seasons Produce in Pennsylvania during the frostiest months. “It’s as close to local as we can get,” she said.
It’s also worth it to give in to non-local cravings in the winter for a sparkle of sweetness: The navel oranges the Co-op stocks from California and grapes from Florida, Taft said, are delicious.