Welcome to Local Table's first Winter Issue!

The winter months are a time of gathering with friends, family and loved ones. We celebrate the year's harvest, the abundance in one's life and the strength of our ties to this beautiful, amazing world. A time of reflection and mindfulness. Much of this season â no matter what religion you embrace â is a time to be together with the important people in your life. For many of us, this time of year is also filled with memories of past gatherings. Maybe more than any other time of year, food is interwoven into our celebrations so much so that it can become nearly impossible to imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without Grandma's scalloped corn, Memaw's chess pie or Aunt Doe's creamed peas. Food is not only our connection to the past, but also binds us together for the future. Culture around the world is informed at the dinner table. During this season, as we share family traditions, we feel connected both to those who have come before us and those that will follow.

During the long dark evenings, the winter months are also a great time for discovery â and not just those fanciful seed catalogs. For farmers, this season has traditionally been a time to learn new skills. Though more farmers in our area are growing year round, it is still a much slower time in the fields and a great time to get together with fellow growers to share knowledge. In this issue, we delve into some of the different opportunities both farmers and gardeners have to learn at very little or no cost. Our federal and state governments have hundreds of opportunities for anyone interested to learn â from growing organically, beginning a food business, and selling at a farmers' market, to building fences, raising chickens and goats, and much more. There are even opportunities to learn how to make your own cheese or soaps. Even if you don't live out in the country, but want to learn about living more self-sufficiently this is a great time of year to learn something new.

This issue also includes our Homegrown and Homemade Gift Guide â featuring locally-made artisan foods and crafts. Please support our local businesses. You can be assured that whether buying a local sweet, celebrating with a local beverage or purchasing a locally crafted item, all of these things were created by someone who cares about their craft, is part of our community and will enrich your life.

Many blessings for a healthy and abundant new year! Lisa Shively