South Dakota squash available for the holidays
SIOUX FALLS — Now that the cold weather has hit, state residents can transition to South Dakota-grown crops that store well over the winter months.
Remember to add winter squash to everyday dinners and holiday meals. Sioux Falls-area food hub, Dakota Fresh LLC, offers spaghetti, butternut, acorn, carnival and orange sunshine varieties through their online store.
Dakota Fresh producers currently offering winter squash include Tschetter Colony, Olivet.; Prairies Past Produce, Pipestone, Minnesota; and Nossa Fazenda, Flandreau. In addition to squash, Dakota Fresh producers have a variety of other specialty crops available this fall including microgreens, beets, onions, potatoes, garlic, herbs, and pumpkins.
Established in 2016, Dakota Fresh is a farmer-owned collective that pools resources to market and distribute its members’ products. They offer consumers the ability to purchase directly from many different farmers in one order via their online ordering system. Orders are taken and delivered once per week in Sioux Falls and Brookings.
Dakota Fresh is the only active farmer-owned food hub in South Dakota and currently consists of 12 producers within a 100 mile radius of Sioux Falls. In 2022, they supplied locally grown produce to two major institutions, one school, four grocery stores, 22 restaurants, and 53 retail customers.
When selecting winter squash, it should have a hard rind and fleshy interior. It should feel heavy and be free of nicks for long-term storage. Properly cured squash can store up to six months. In addition to its delicious sweet flavor, winter squash is a nutrient dense vegetable packed with Vitamins A & C, antioxidants, fiber and potassium.
When baking, cut the winter squash in half and remove seeds. Place unpeeled pieces cut side down on a shallow baking sheet. After baking for 30 minutes or more, you will know it is cooked when it pierces easily with a fork. The flesh will spoon out easily.
Roasting is the traditional way to prepare this vegetable, but it may also be peeled and added to soups and other dishes. Squash is also a great substitute for pumpkin in dessert recipes. The seeds may be roasted too, providing additional fiber, mono and poly-unsaturated fats, Vitamin E, and iron. For more winter squash cooking and preserving ideas, visit SDSU Extension at https://extension.sdstate.edu/pick-it-try-it-it-preserve-it.
In 2023 Dakota Fresh became a subrecipient of a South Dakota Departmetn of Agriculture and Natural Resources grant that provides local food items to Feeding SD sites in southeastern S.D. They are excited to help address food disparities in our region. This fall, they also received a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant which will focus on their retail customers. Also find a Dakota Fresh vendor booth at the upcoming S.D. Local Foods Conference, Nov. 17-18, at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls.
Dakota Fresh Food Hub strives to provide high quality, safe, healthy food to our region while fostering strong relationships among producers, customers and our communities. They will continue to provide their current online retail option while also offering Farm Share boxes for interested customers, beginning in 2024.
Dakota Fresh is one of eight retailers involved in the Fresher is Fun! Campaign, organized by the S.D. Specialty Producers Association through a USDA SCB Grant. The participating retailers all offer specialty crops sourced from multiple producers, increasing variety, access and convenience for customers. The campaign hopes to increase awareness and sales of South Dakota grown fruits, vegetables, honey, mushrooms, flowers and other specialty crops.
To find a retailer selling local winter squash visit SDSPA’s retailer website, https://sdspecialtyproducers.org/retailer/, featuring farm stands, grocers and retailers carrying local produce. Or visit SDSPA’s local food directory, https://sdspecialtyproducers.org/producers/, to find a squash producer near you.
This program will also support several events in 2024 showcasing specialty crops at retailer locations. For more information, contact SDSPA at 605-681-6793 or [email protected]. Specialty producers and local foods enthusiasts can also stay up to date on events and educational opportunities by visiting our website at https://sdspecialtyproducers.org or by following SDSPA on Facebook or Instagram.