Farm News

2015 CSA Week 25

garlic growing in leaves

CSA Week #25 Saturday November 21st

The last pickup day of the CSA Season

Dear CSA Family,

One more wonderful year has settled down around us thick with memories. We experienced the excitement of new crops, enjoyed old favorites, reveled in a great tomato season, and ate our fill of spicy peppers and knock-your-socks-off table grapes. When I pull up our records to review the multi-page listing of every pound of this and that which came to fruition in our fields, it amazes me that each single carrot, salad mix leaf, baby potato, and basil leaf passed through our hands. Little by little, or heavy by heavy, our tally grew and grew. I think to myself: how did we do all that?

Wednesday found Brad and I once again out in the fields. I was inching along a row, pulling all sizes of deep red Shiraz beets with muddy hands. Brad was a few beds west of me, steadily cutting rotund celery root heads from their woven, soil encrusted, tentacle-like roots. The sun was warming our hands and backs, which is not something we take for granted during November harvests. It was a beautiful weather day, except for one little ‘Charlie Brown cloud.’ (You know the type. Where he dishearteningly cries, “Good grief!”) About every other root Brad excavated had hollow, discolored hearts. Roots and tubers that undergo heat stress commonly “blow up” in this fashion, developing normal exterior structure but with large internal air pockets. Discouragingly, he shows me what he is finding as he tossed each unsalvageable root back onto the soil. He harvests half a row and has not yet filled one crate.

Anytime we lose a crop, it hurts. We are ever vigilant with our transplanted crops, as they are tender from the beginning. Celery root is no exception. Seeds are absolutely tiny, about the size of a speck of finely ground pepper and as a member of the carrot family, one of the slowest developing annual crops we grow. In March we seeded this variety named Diamant. It took until mid-June for the seedlings to grow 6 inches tall at which time we carefully transplanted each one. Then we weeded, we watered, we waited. We weeded again, and watered again and waited again. This cycle continues for about 115 days. After transplant, it takes celery root nearly four more months to reach harvestable size.

It’s one thing to lose a radish crop. (Direct seed into our rich garden soil and 30 days later, red roots are ready to eat.) By contrast, crops like carrots, onions, and celery root are a patient farmer’s game. It takes a lot of labor and careful management of conditions, and even then, sometimes it feels all for naught.

It’s hard enough when we lose a crop, but depressingly, we can’t even just walk away from this loss because we have to harvest every root just to find the good ones. And, until the day of harvest, there is no way we could have known (no visual cues) that indicate the roots were not healthy. What an insult to injury. ‘Good grief’ is right! Brad finally laments to me, “I’m only able to save about every other one and I can’t be certain what I am saving is really healthy on the inside.” I hear the roots falling back into the dense, wet soil, and I can’t decide which is a more dejected sound: each culled root hitting the ground or Brad’s accompanying sad sigh.

Now usually, Brad is the one giving me the cheer up hugs. So maybe it was that hopeful sun on my back, or rich dreams of an up and coming Thanksgiving nap. Probably it was the hard earned perspective of nearly a decade of farming life. Whatever the providence, I said the first thing that came to mind.

“That’s okay,” I told him, “This must be Mother Nature’s way of telling us it’s time for us to be done.”

“Yes,” he said, with a little laugh, his mood brightening. “She’s right!”

We wish you and yours a happy, healthy winter season filled with abundance and gratitude, filled with time for work, and time for rest.

Your Thankful Farmers,

April & Brad

“One kind word can warm three winter months.”
~Japanese Proverb

P.S. Already a new season is in the works! The photo above captures our 2016 garlic crop peeking out. Farm endings and beginnings are sure woven tightly.