Ginger from the Finger Lakes (Believe it or not!)

Ginger-lovers will know that it's unheard of to find a variety of the spicy root that is grown locally in western New York. But (thankfully for co-op shoppers) it's true: this is the chance to try truly fresh ginger. Sparked by the fiery lilt on our taste buds and by our curiosity, we wanted to know just what inspired a small Finger Lakes farm to grow a tropical crop.
"We like to push the envelope," Fred Forsburg, owner of Honeyhill Farm (pictured right), said to explain why he and his wife Sue made the decision. "We like to lead the pack." 

Fred and Sue run Honeyhill Farm in Livonia, New York, barely 32 miles south of our store, just near Conesus Lake. The small family farm sits on a plot first settled in 1848, which they acquired in 1978. They obtained organic certification in 2004 and today Honeyhill Farm is well-known for its garlic, which thrives in the terroir of the Finger Lakes region. (Surprisingly, about 80% of garlic is not grown in the United States.) The Forsburgs also raise cattle and chickens in open, natural pasture lands for antibiotic-free grass-fed beef and organic poultry.
"Ahead of the pack"
Honeyhill Farms has certainly been at the head of the class before: they were one of the first farms in the Finger Lakes to use high tunnels for winter growing. High tunnels are a kind of greenhouse that uses no energy other than that of the sun. It allows farmers in colder climates to continue to grow hardier vegetables through the winter months. The energy-efficient apparatuses are also incredibly useful for protecting delicate crops, like the bright and colorful heirloom tomatoes Honeyhill Farm is also known for–they have over 25 varieties. 

The ginger story
Over 40% of ginger is grown in India and China, with the rest mostly sourced from Southeast Asia. What that means is that the fresh ginger we usually have access to here in western New York is not really all that fresh. The root dries out and the delicate quality of its flesh significantly diminishes during the long time it takes to get from being picked, then shipped, then stored, to finding its way to the produce section of a grocery store. 

The organic variety of ginger that Fred and Sue grew this harvest is Hawaiian, which they chose because it does better in the harsh climates of New York and New England. Of course, as a tropical plant, ginger can't stay in the ground all year. It requires a lot of care, which involves the creation of a semi-tropical environment during the winter months in a cooler (kept at 80 degrees Fahrenheit) to allow for pre-sprouting. Once sprouted, the ginger is planted in August and dug up in October. In warmer climates, the plant typically grows to be taller than the average person, while here in New York it seldom reaches beyond waist and chest level.  
Baby ginger, a delicacy
Since it's local, you have the chance to taste a true delicacy: baby ginger, the swelled rhizome of root ginger. If you're lucky enough to see, smell, and taste baby ginger, it is a magical, beautiful experience. Thanks to Honeyhill Farm's decision to try something experimental, it's something we can do right here in Rochester. While the baby ginger quickly turns into what looks like the usual root within a week or two, it is still incredibly fresh. Nothing that can be found in our area compares (short of a special overnight delivery from Hawaii!). 

Enjoy this new local delicacy here at the co-op. Honeyhill Farm ginger is fully organic and is priced at $21.00 per lb.

**Learn more about Honeyhill Farm at their website.  

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