Discover the Story Behind Local Food: The Ultimate Guide

Discover the Story Behind Local Food: The Ultimate Guide

When it comes to locally sourced food, coastal gardens have become the go-to place for many enthusiasts. With their stunning foliage and year-round beauty, these gardens offer a wide variety of species that can brighten up any arrangements. Some of the smaller shrubs that can be grown in these gardens include the beautyberry and various species of viburnums. These plants can add a bright pop of color to your garden and are known for their long-lasting fruits.

One of the most popular species of viburnum, the black haw, although poisonous to consume, is a sight to behold with its bright orange fruits. Another poisonous but visually striking plant is the oneida, or possumhaw, which has thick, purplish fruits that stand out against its thorns. For those looking to add a touch of wit to their garden, the bittersweet vine is a great option. Its fruits open to reveal bright red and orange berries.

Not all berries found in coastal gardens are poisonous, however. The holly bush offers a bountiful harvest of healthful fruits, including the variety known as winterberry. Winterberry hollies are known for their vibrant red berries, which brighten up gardens during the winter months. Another healthful option is the domestica, or cotoneaster, which produces small red berries.

When it comes to identifying these plants, there are a few characteristics to look out for. Viburnums are known for their rounded shape, while dogwoods have a more bushy appearance. Black haw viburnum has a distinctive thorny stem, which sets it apart from other varieties. The bittersweet vine is easily recognizable with its long-lasting fruits that open to reveal beautiful berries. Lastly, winterberry hollies and the oneida species have thick, purplish fruits that are hard to miss.

In conclusion, coastal gardens offer a wide variety of locally sourced food options. From poisonous but visually striking plants to healthful berries that brighten up the winter landscape, these gardens have something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a pop of color in the front of your garden or a picture-perfect tree, these shrubs and trees will not disappoint. So next time you’re in the mood for some fresh, local produce, consider exploring the beauty and benefits of coastal gardens.

8 Fall Berries to Brighten Your Westchester Garden Into Winter

As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, the vibrant colors of fall begin to fade. However, there are several delightful berries that can add a pop of color to your garden and brighten up the winter landscape in Westchester. These native American berries are not only grown locally but also offer various benefits for both humans and wildlife.

1. Cranberry: Known for their tart flavor and vibrant red color, cranberries are a classic fall favorite. They are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, making them a healthful addition to your diet.

2. Winterberry: This native deciduous holly bush showcases bright red berries that are a striking contrast against its dark green foliage. It’s a top pick for holiday decorations and wreaths, adding a festive touch to your outdoors.

3. Chokeberry: With its dark purple-black berries, chokeberry is a versatile shrub that can tolerate different soil conditions. It provides food for wildlife and looks especially stunning when planted in groups.

4. Hollies: Hollies are available in various species and offer an abundance of bright red berries. While some species are non-edible (be cautious as some hollies are poisonous), others, such as the winterberry and oneida holly, are safe to consume.

5. Crabapples: These small ornamental trees are known for their stunning clusters of red, orange, or yellow berries. Not only do they add beauty to your garden, but they also attract birds and provide food during the winter months.

6. Black Elderberry: Loaded with small black berries, the black elderberry bush is a favorite among gardeners and wildlife alike. It’s highly regarded for its medicinal properties and is commonly used to make jams, syrups, and elderberry wine.

7. Viburnums: This diverse group of shrubs offers an array of berries that range from red to blue and black. Viburnums are easy to grow and provide year-round interest with their beautiful flowers, attractive foliage, and colorful berries.

8. Bittersweet: As its name suggests, bittersweet features vibrant orange-red berries that brighten up fall and winter gardens. However, be cautious as this vine can be invasive in some areas.

While these berries will brighten up your Westchester garden, the rewards go beyond their visual appeal. They provide food and shelter for birds, offer health benefits for humans, and are a vital part of the ecosystem. So why not add some of these brilliant berries to your garden and enjoy their beauty all winter long!

Note: It’s always a good idea to consult a local plant guide or the Old Farmer’s Almanac for specific information on growing these berries in your area, as certain species may be better suited for particular climates.


Winterberry, also known as Myrica, is a brilliant orange-red fruit that promises beauty in the cold winter months. This species of shrubs belongs to the same family as the bayberry and boasts levels of healthful antioxidants.

The winterberry shrubs, native to Westchester, New York, are sure to catch your eye with their purplish foliage and vibrant fruits. Loaded with thorns, these shrubs stand tall and mature to around 3 to 15 feet in height. The winterberry fruits, resembling tiny red berries, are a favorite among birds and add a touch of beauty to the otherwise snow-covered landscape.

Winterberries are not only beautiful but also edible. While the fruits may be smaller compared to other species like chokeberries and firethorns, they are noted for their high nutritional levels. The daily consumption of winterberries is considered a good source of vitamins and minerals.

In addition to winterberry, another species of shrub known as possumhaw or viburnum also enhances the beauty of winter landscapes. This species, with its lovely white or pink flowers, transforms into vibrant red fruits that last throughout the winters. The viburnums are found across the coastal areas and are a common sight in the Oneida region.

If you’re looking for a splash of color in your winter garden, consider adding winterberry or viburnum. With their brilliant orange-red fruits, these shrubs will surely brighten up your outdoor space and attract various birds for pollination.

So, this winter, don’t miss out on the beauty that these plants have to offer. Whether it’s the winterberry with its orange-red fruits or the viburnum with its lovely flowers, these plants will surely add some cheer to the season.


Serviceberries are small trees or shrubs that bloom in early spring, before most other trees have started to leaf out. They are available in over 10 varieties and come in a range of colors, from white to pink to lavender. The flowers resemble those of apple trees, with long-lasting blooms that can stick around for up to 3 weeks.

Their foliage is another standout feature, with mature leaves turning a beautiful purplish-red in the fall. The small, round berries that follow the flowers are edible and resemble blueberries in taste. They are a healthful and tasty addition to any garden, and are also enjoyed by birds and other wildlife.

Serviceberries are versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. They can be planted as specimens, in a mixed shrub border, or as a screen or hedge. They can also be trained into a small tree or pruned into a more formal shape. Some popular cultivars include the Amelanchier canadensis, Amelanchier laevis, and Amelanchier alnifolia.

Serviceberries are relatively easy to care for and prefer a sunny or partially shaded location. They are adaptable to a variety of soil types and are quite drought-tolerant once established. They benefit from regular watering during dry spells, and a layer of mulch around the base of the tree can help conserve moisture.

In addition to their beautiful blooms and foliage, serviceberries also provide a valuable source of food for wildlife. Birds, such as robins and cedar waxwings, are particularly fond of the berries. Other wildlife, such as squirrels and chipmunks, also enjoy them.

If you’re looking for a small tree or shrub that will add beauty to your yard and provide a bountiful harvest of tasty berries, consider planting a serviceberry. With their attractive flowers, long-lasting blooms, and healthful fruit, they are a great addition to any garden.


The chokeberry, also known as aronia, is a highly nutritious fruit that belongs to the rose family. It is often compared to the cranberry due to its tart taste and deep red color. The chokeberry is a popular ingredient in many local food recipes and is a frequent feature in newsletters about local food.

There are three main varieties of chokeberry: the black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), the red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), and the purple chokeberry (Aronia prunifolia). All three varieties are highly effective in combating various health conditions and promoting overall well-being.

The black chokeberry, also known as Aronia melanocarpa, is the most common variety found in North America. It bears clusters of small, bright red fruits that resemble hollies. The red chokeberry, or Aronia arbutifolia, produces an abundance of orange-red berries that last well into the winter months. The purple chokeberry, or Aronia prunifolia, looks similar to the other varieties but has smaller fruits.

Chokeberries are known for their high antioxidant levels, which effectively combat free radicals in the body. This makes them a popular choice for individuals looking to add more antioxidants to their diet. Furthermore, chokeberries are noted for their mouth-watering taste and are often incorporated into various culinary arrangements, such as jams, jellies, and wine.

Another popular shrub in the family is the beautyberry, or Callicarpa. It produces colorful and long-lasting fruit arrangements, with the most common variety being the Callicarpa americanus, also known as American beautyberry. The bayberry, chionanthus, and firethorn also belong to this family of shrubs.

The beautyberry, like chokeberries, is highly effective in combating free radicals and offers a wide range of health benefits. The bayberry, chionanthus, and firethorn are also known for their antioxidant properties and are often incorporated into local food recipes.

When it comes to edible berries, it is important to correctly identify the plant as there are also species that have poisonous fruits. If in doubt, it is always best to consult a local expert or guidebook. For example, the berries of the beautyberry and chokeberry are safe to consume, while some species of hollies, olives, and crabapples are known to be toxic.

In conclusion, chokeberries are a highly beneficial fruit that is packed with antioxidants. They offer a wide range of health benefits and can be easily incorporated into local food recipes. Whether enjoyed fresh, in jams and jellies, or as a unique ingredient in culinary arrangements, chokeberries are a flavorful and nutritious choice. So, next time you see chokeberries at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, be sure to add them to your basket and reap the benefits they provide all year long.

✿ Read More About Berries and Vine Fruits.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.