Field Trip: House’s Asparagus

When you eat seasonally, things begin to reveal their value again. I’m not talking about monetary value, it’s a value that feels a bit more natural and a bit more true. We hadn’t eaten asparagus for a while before my parents brought over some of House’s first asparagus of the season. When foods are eaten seasonally, they become a special treat. It’s hard to not get excited about the first asparagus when it’s been almost a year. There’s a saying about absence…

House’s Farm Market has been my family’s source for fresh asparagus for years. Right on highway 24, heading south into Norfolk County, sits the market stand. And right next to it is the field full of asparagus. It doesn’t get much more local than that.

Ernie and Susan House invited us into the field to take a look at how the asparagus grows. We walked to a patch of brown ground where we assumed nothing was growing. It looked like a field with leftover mulch from last year. But upon closer inspection, all over the field, little green spears were poking through.

We talked about how asparagus grows in our first Garden Status Report. We learned that it takes four years for it to reach the age where it can tolerate cutting. Harvesting asparagus must be stressful for the crown, or root system. It sends up a spear, which is cut, and then keeps trying again and again. You have to be careful to not overdo it, and eventually need to let a spear grow into the the mature fern, which in turn will harness solar energy to store and grow again next year. 

As for the smell when you pee, it comes from various sulfurous compounds found especially in young asparagus. And the debate isn’t around whose urine smells after eating asparagus, it’s all about who has the genes to actually smell it. Some doctors would say that since you can smell it in your urine, it must be hard on the kidneys, but we think it must be fine, especially when you’re eating it seasonally.

Asparagus, although their main local crop right now, isn’t the only thing grown on House’s farm. Their sweet corn is exceptional, especially when it’s picked so close, and they also grow their own potatoes, green peas in the pod, green and yellow beans, squash, and pumpkins. If you’re driving through Norfolk County any time soon, make sure you stop and pick up the freshest asparagus you’ll probably ever buy. 
House’s Farm & Market
1903 Windham Road 3 (at Hwy. 24)
R.R.# 3 Scotland, Ontario

One comment

  • Indeed a giant among vegetables. If you live in the east, think Bowmanville or Newcastle or Orono, you can go to Fred's Farm on the HWY 115 just north of all the gas stations. Every time I've gone (a daily occurrence at this time of year) they are out picking the stuff you are about to buy. Steamed a half hour later. amazing.

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