“Four season farming” is a technique that has been utilized by Maine farmers for decades. It’s a technique that involved providing protections to crops, but not heat, to protect them during the winter. Farmers can keep some hardy greens growing all winter, and get others started under cover early in the season, just as soon as the days start getting longer in February and March. Soft, fluffy salad greens are cold-sensitive, but often start appearing in markets in March, much earlier than in home gardens. Local greens are usually sold by weight, and are a good value for the money, especially when compared to commercially packaged, imported salad greens in plastic boxes at supermarkets.

You’ll likely find both “mild” and “spicy” mixes. The former will blend well in any salad or sandwich. A spicy mix contains flavorful greens like arugula and mustard which have a little kick. These are delicious in salads, and also pair well with warm dishes like quiches.

Preparing fresh salad greens takes very little work. Plunge them in a bowl of cold water and stir them well with your hands, then pull them out, shake, and dry on a clean towel. Alternatively, plunge them in a bowl of water in a “salad spinner,” rinse the greens in the basket, and spin. The stems of young greens are completely edible, but you may want to pull off long stems to make the greens easier to eat, and tear any larger leaves into bite-sized pieces.

Store your farm-fresh greens in a plastic bag in the fridge. They will keep for a week or more under the right conditions.