The Hands that Feed Us

The long awaited tomatoes are gradually ripening, and as much as we’d like to encourage them to ripen faster the first harvest typically is a teaser and doesn’t yield enough for everyone’s shares.

Get your salt shaker out. Our Early Girl dry-farmed tomatoes are almost ready.

A wave of new crops is at the cusp of maturing, and we like to stagger and rotate their harvests to not feel overwhelmed. Padron peppers need to be harvested every three days to not let them grow much larger than thumb size. Cherry and Early Girl tomatoes will, at first, only need to be harvested every 5-6 days, however a month from now we’ll be picking them everyday to keep up. Currently green beans are abundant, but extremely time consuming to pick.

Peppers galore. The Padrons are the taller plants on the far left.

The green beans are sandwiched in between the corn in the foreground and rows of raspberries.

With over 50 crops grown annually, it is important not to over plant to keep harvest schedules manageable. The danger of falling behind is that the quality of the harvest and the health of the plants are compromised. It isn’t easy, many are the variables and priorities we need to juggle, and as we approach the height of summer more crops are being added to the harvest list. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours and working hands to keep up with Mother Nature.

Some of our field crew harvesting summer squash for Thursday’s shares.

A previous field of summer squash plants is now being prepped for new crops.

Soon the field pictured above will look like this one, with newly formed rows ready for transplants or seeding.

Recent chard transplants being irrigated.

Rows of basil, winter squash, and cucumbers, with the pepper field just beyond.

Last time I took a group of kids on a farm tour I stopped by the carrot patch and showed them how we dig and pull carrots out of the ground then tie them into a bunch with a rubber band. Digging for carrots almost rivals the excitement kids get when picking strawberries. There is something special about tugging on a bunch of leaves not knowing exactly what will appear out of the ground – like going treasure hunting.

A teen group participating in the potato harvest.

One of the kids asked me almost incredulously, “You dig all these carrots by hand? ” “We sure do, every single one of them”, I confirmed. Although we now have tractors and mechanical tools to help us, small scale organic vegetable and fruit farms like ours rely mostly on hand labor. It is a collective and manual effort – from sowing the seeds, planting, weeding, cultivating, watering, harvesting, washing, packing to finally delivering the shares.

h-inthefield

When it comes to working hands on this farm, I can’t think of anyone else than the incredibly dedicated group of people who work tirelessly to make it possible for us to enjoy a sampling of their effort. If your kitchen is anything like ours, a lot of hands will continue in the preparation and cooking of the freshly harvested crops, transforming them into a nourishing meal. To grow healthy food and help create a healthier food-system in our community, all of us can join hands – that’s what it takes!

If you look closely, you may be able to spot the long eared jackrabbit in the midst of the tomatoes.

 

By | 2020-01-15T14:26:40-08:00 January 1st, 2018|Farm News & Tom's Reflections|Comments Off on The Hands that Feed Us