Summer foraging is one of the great pleasures here on the farm, and with the abundance of harvest-able crops right now it doesn’t take much of a field walk to fill a bushel basket and one’s tummy all at the same time. A typical walk for me starts in the apple orchards. August is a special time when the trees hang heavy with fully sized apples maturing and showing their true colors as they ripen.
In order to anticipate when it’s time to start picking, I do a lot of sampling from different locations on both the individual trees and around the orchard. This year it’s especially tricky since the spring bloom spanned over a much longer period, resulting in uneven maturity and ripeness. I pay close attention to the early varieties that usually ripen sometime this month, choosing apples with good color to test for sugar content while at the same time evaluating their texture and flavor. The best judge is my daughter, who loves apples and is not shy to tell me which she likes best. The Sommerfelds and Pink Pearls are the ripest, with the highest sugar content. They’ll be ready to start picking by the end of the week. The Galas and McIntosh are not far behind – probably 7-10 days out.
Heading back to the barn with half-munched-on apples in my arms, I can’t resist making a detour to snack on a row of ripe, still unpicked red raspberries. Lucky me, I spot an empty crate on the side of one field which lets me free up my hands to load up on peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and of course my favorite Sungold cherry tomatoes. I am set for lunch!
It’s a team effort and dynamic dance right now to keep up with the workload. With such abundance in the fields, we all know, now’s the time when we have to maximize our return. We check on crops daily, sometimes even more often, to assess both quality and quantity to project and spread the harvest for our weekly commitments to CSA members, customers at farmer’s markets, and wholesale and retail accounts. Days are long to keep up with all the harvesting, packing, loading, and delivering. Fieldwork can’t fall behind as we are already preparing for fall and winter. Timing is everything, and little delays and breakdowns can be stressful when dealing with an already full plate.
The best way to experience the farm’s bounty at this point in the season is to come and visit the farm. This Saturday, August 16th, from 10-3 join us for our first Dry-farmed Tomato U-Pick of the Season. If you can’t make it this Saturday, we will have a 2nd U-Pick on August 30th to benefit the farm’s Discovery Program. At this time of year we won’t limit the U-Pick to just dry-farmed tomatoes, but encourage you to also explore other parts of the farm where you can pick favorite crops such as Raspberries, Blackberries, and Cherry Tomatoes. HOPE YOU CAN MAKE IT – SEE YOU ALL ON THE FARM.