(11/02/22) BATON ROUGE, La. — Native Americans taught the Puritan settlers many things about life in America, including how to grow and prepare winter squash — a food they had never seen before but that would soon gain popularity and become a regular seasonal planting.
This time of year is harvest season for winter squash, and now is the perfect time to try some of the many types that are grown in Louisiana. A few common varieties of winter squash are Hubbard, acorn, delicata, butternut and spaghetti — and their looks are as different as their names.
In Louisiana, winter squash seeds are planted in the spring. They are harvested and eaten in the mature stage when the skin has hardened into a tough rind. If you’re interested in growing them, prepare your garden for planting in April or May.
To learn more about winter squash, watch the November “Louisiana Harvest of the Month” episode at https://youtu.be/LZf4QP56Jxs to learn more about this seasonal vegetable. Filmed by Louisiana Public Broadcasting at Chenier Farms in Opelousas, this month’s episode offers a behind-the-scenes look at how this Louisiana crop is grown, harvested and prepared into a cornucopia of treats.
Crystal Besse, director of the LSU AgCenter Louisiana Farm to School Program, hosts the video and introduces viewers to farmers Betty and John Chenier, who provide planting and growing tips for gardeners. In addition, viewers can learn helpful nutrition and cooking tips for winter squash from Judy Myhand, a senior instructor in the AgCenter School of Nutrition and Food Sciences.
“Louisiana Harvest of the Month” is a digital-first production of Seeds to Success: The Louisiana Farm to School Program, LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Public Broadcasting. The series launched last fall as a way to celebrate foods grown in Louisiana. Watch each month for a new episode to premiere on the Louisiana Farm to School YouTube channel.
The Louisiana Harvest of the Month program showcases locally grown foods in Louisiana schools, institutions and communities. Each month, participating sites focus on promoting one locally grown item. The program cultivates a healthy food and farm connection by increasing students’ exposure to seasonal foods while also supporting local farmers. For each Harvest of the Month item, there are activities and educational lessons, recipes and a wealth of additional resources to help teams implement a successful program.
Through Louisiana Harvest of the Month, educators are equipped to offer students hands-on opportunities to explore, taste and learn about the importance of eating fresh, local food. A guide for growing squash in school and home gardens is available on the AgCenter website at https://bit.ly/3DiGJ5C.
Learn more about Seeds to Success: The Louisiana Farm to School Program at seedstosuccess.com.
Crystal Besse, left, director of the LSU AgCenter Louisiana Farm to School Program, walks through a squash field with Opelousas farmers Betty and John Chenier. Photo provided by the Louisiana Farm to School Program