By Julia Howard
Opening boxes of holiday decorations, preparing festive seasonal foods, and gatherings with friends and family are some of the ways that we celebrate the holiday season. This time of year evokes different memories for all of us. This week, we look to our local farmers and producers as they share some of their favorite memories of Christmas on the farm.
“When we were kids, Christmas Eve was always our big dinner and presents,” shares Laurie Kokinda of Kokinda Farm and Laurie’s Jams and Jellies. “Christmas morning, we always saddled horses and went for a trail ride through Luther Forest. Back then, it was a single dirt road and especially beautiful if we got fresh snow.”
Jim and Himanee Gupta-Carlson of Squashville Farm explains that many religious and cultural traditions have shaped their holiday festivities. Their move to the Upstate NY area and involvement in local farmers’ markets has also guided their holiday rituals. “We always get a fresh tree from Charles of Scotch Ridge Farm,” says Himanee Gupta-Carlson. “We celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve with seven (or sometimes more!) types of shellfish or fish from Pura Vida Fisheries, and we like to do purple potato latkes during Hanukkah and a roast duck on Christmas Day,” Gupta-Carlson adds.
At Nettle Meadow Farm and animal sanctuary, Christmas is celebrated with a big holiday bash hosted by the farm owners for the employees. The farm’s annual party includes a feast, a secret Santa gift swap, games, and good conversation. Farmworker Sean Dean jokes that the farm’s geriatric rescue turkey has the safest home at the farm.
Nellie Lovenduski of Slate River Farms shares memories of family snowshoeing on the farm, taking chickens for rides in snow tubes, and ice skating on Ensign Brook.
Anna Mae Clark, a long-time market member and best known as ‘the jam lady’, recalls memories of cookies and sweet treats throughout the Christmas season. “My mother made New Year’s cookies around Thanksgiving, and the cookies aged in a crock until they were ready to be devoured at Christmas festivities,” reminisces Clark. Baking her favorite sugar cookies, her grandmother’s oatmeal-raisin cookies, and her brother’s favorite chocolate chip cookies evoke her most meaningful holiday memories of time shared with family.
This holiday season, we encourage you to build traditions of your own. Perhaps by sharing a favorite recipe, shopping for your holiday feast at the farmers’ market, or simply spending time with loved ones — which is where the true spirit of the season lays.
This week’s recipe: Buttery Breakfast Casserole