Last-minute gifts for gardeners

Dec 20, 2012

Jean English — Local is always a great way to shop, and with one weekend to go before Christmas, local is also convenient for last-minute gifts.

Avena Botanicals has several boxed gift, available at avenabotanicals.com/browse-by/shop/gifts/gift-sets.html or by visiting Avena’s shop at 219 Mill St. in Rockport Mondays through Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. — although the shop will be closing for the holidays on Dec. 21 and reopening on Jan . 2. I put my own gift sets together for friends, using Avena’s sacred basil honey and a bag of loose tea in a Christmas bag.

Our local shops are full of books, kitchen goods and more. I always find something fun and/or fragrant at Glendarragh Lavender Farm on Main Street in Camden. This year I bought a small tin of culinary lavender flower buds, which would be a great gift in itself, or you could make and give away these lavender cookies using the product:

Lavender Cookies

10 tbsp. softened butter

1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 c. flour

1 tbsp. culinary lavender blossoms

Mix the flour and sugar, then the egg, then the flour and lavender. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom.

Of course anyone who eats these cookies will want them to be a tiny part of a diet otherwise rich in nutritious foods. Why not give a winter squash, or a big bag of carrots from a local farm? The Belfast Farmers’ Market holds a winter market until the Friday before Christmas at Aubuchon Hardware on Route 1 in Belfast. In addition to quality vegetables, the participants sell medicinal mushrooms, handmade ornaments, hand-carved spoons and other utensils, some of the best breads in the world, and lots more.

Another way to get good food is to join a Community Supported Agriculture farm, buying shares in the farm up front and getting periodic supplies of produce, meat, dairy products, canned goods or more over several months. You can search for a CSA farm in your area at mofga.net/Directories/CommunitySupportedAgricultureinMaine/tabid/268/Default.aspx. A CSA membership would be a great gift for your whole family.

I had never joined a CSA because I grow so much of my own produce, but this year I signed up for a CSA offered by Cheryl Wixson’s Kitchen (cherylwixsonskitchen.com/csa/). Each month I get a neat box of nine products — pumpkin maple butter, wild mushroom pasta and pizza sauce, mustard pickles, salsas and lots more. This is such a treat, especially for last-minute meal ideas.

You may be able to get a CSA share for only $5 – if you win a raffle that is running until Jan. 8. The raffle supports the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association-El Salvador Sistering Committee (to which I belong). More information about that here: mofga.org/Programs/MOFGAElSalvadorSisteringProject/tabid/371/Default.aspx.

Finally, how about giving a membership to a local environmental organization? Last week I went on the inaugural walk of Merryspring Nature Center’s Interpretive Trail and was reminded of what a beautiful and biodiverse treasure Merryspring is. Likewise, Maine’s land trusts are doing a phenomenal job of preserving the state’s natural beauty and working farmland, and deserve to be supported. The Natural Resources Council of Maine is in the forefront of alerting us to changes in Maine’s mining laws and ways to speak out about them, as well as many other environmental issues. My own years as a contractor with and member of the MOFGA have impressed me repeatedly with the dedication and success of that organization.

Beyond finally, give a gift or gift certificate from Maine’s seed companies — Fedco, Johnny’s, Pinetree, Wood Prairie Farm, Maine Potato Lady, Allen, Sterling & Lothrop — and thoughts of sprouting seedlings will lighten our days through the rest of the winter.

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