Farmer John Writes: To Whither the Weather?

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 13, September 15th – 21st, 2020

Early most mornings, there is dew. The dew makes the leafy greens, such as arugula and mizuna, too damp to harvest. The dew usually lifts gradually; sometimes, if there is wind, it lifts quickly. Leafy greens are best harvested as the dew is lifting, especially on windy days, when the leaves can quickly go from too wet to too dry (prone to wilting). This transition from too wet to too dry might take 20 minutes in wind. One day, the crew started to harvest dill, because the cilantro was too wet to harvest. A wind came up. I had the crew quickly transition to cilantro harvest, because cilantro should not be harvested too dry (or too wet.) During our rapid harvest of cilantro, it morphed from slightly damp to a tad dry. Micro-managing? Not sure if that is the correct term.

Some days, I go to the 6 a.m. meeting with a plan to harvest arugula and mizuna at 9:30 a.m., so we will be done with these harvests by lunch time at 11 a.m. (After lunch, the greens will likely be too dry.) I plan to send a crew to harvest the broccoli, which needs to be harvested in the cool and damp of the early morning. I usually check the grass for dew before entering the barn for the morning meeting. Some days there is little or no dew. What to do? Are the greens ready to harvest this early? I must always make a decision. These are the types of considerations that continually shape the creation of your share.

Early last Saturday morning, rain was suddenly forecast for the whole upcoming week. Memories of recent seasons flooded me—getting equipment stuck, losing thousands of pounds of potatoes to mud, the crew lugging squash from fields, their boots sinking far into the mud with each step. Sometimes a boot would come off in the deep mud. When the forecast is suddenly for a week of rain, is this the time to think positive, to think that it really won’t rain all week or that the rain won’t continue beyond the week, because it hasn’t been raining much recently? Or is this the time to think that the rain will fall all week and it will continue for the whole fall?

I tend to think that facing the negative head-on is the best way of assuring a positive outcome. Due to our harvest schedule last Saturday, and due to a small crew and our shortened Saturday schedule, we had no time to transplant choi. If the choi was not transplanted and if we were to lose a week or more to mud before we could get the choi into the ground, the heads would never mature, because of the lateness of planting. We harvested everything that was scheduled to be harvested this last Saturday, and we transplanted the choi. We even harvested more than was scheduled to be harvested, because we worked super fast, super efficiently, and some of us worked late. Some days, not being able to get all the necessary work done on a farm is a poor excuse for not getting all the necessary work done.

Aware that the blue sky and the hot sun that day likely belied the future, I plunged into the harvest and transplanting frenzy with all my might. I am exhausted and sore as I write this…and satisfied.

Pretty much all week since that Saturday, it has been raining.

Is that Really Spinach?
I don’t believe we have offered spinach for the last two years. It’s been too hot or too wet or too weedy. Finally we have a good crop of spinach. Unfortunately, we only have enough for about one full week of deliveries, so some people with every-other-week shares will not receive any. It’s a mightily pleasant sight to gaze on beautiful beds of spinach this fall.

Wash Your Vegetables
Some of the recent rain has pounded down on the crops, splashing mud onto the greens. Please thoroughly wash your vegetables, paying special attention to the leafy greens, as some of them are quite muddy. We don’t have the elaborate, expensive system here to triple wash and then dry your greens, so we are leaving that up to you.

No Field Day this Fall, But…
We will not host our regularly scheduled Field Day on the third Saturday of September, due to the pandemic, but shareholders are welcome to come whenever to gather jack-o’-lantern pumpkins and gourds from the trailer near the farmstead, up to 3 pumpkins and 10 gourds per family.

During that visit, please help yourself to flowers from our gloriously abloom U-Pick garden. Make sure to bring your own clippers and container for gathering flowers. Please review our U-Pick Garden page before coming.

A Gift
A shareholder family who wishes to remain anonymous gifted the farm a donation for lunch for the crew. A food truck came to serve Mexican food to all. For years, this food truck has been a dream of Esperanza, a former farm employee. It is just now coming to fruition; its appearance at the farm was only the second time that it had been in action. Two of Esperanza’s daughters, Uriana and Dulce, have been working at the farm this season, and she has two other younger daughters. Esperanza and all four of her daughters pitched in to help the meal be a huge success.

A note on Esperanza: last year, when she came to apply for a job, she asked to see the fields. Then she said she would like to see inside the buildings, as she recognized that there was something very unusual about the farmstead.

“Cool,” I said. “Nobody applying for a job has ever requested to see all of this.”

One weekend last fall, Esperanza brought three of her daughters out to meet me and to see the farm. Her whole family and I have been bonded since.

Esperanza, 2nd from right, with three of her extraordinary daughters, visiting the farm last fall

Esperanza’s Food Truck at the Farm

Thank you from all of us to our generous longtime shareholders for providing a meal for our crew, and thanks also to Esperanza and her family for the great meal from their food truck.

Farmer John

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