The Harvest Comes to an End…

The chill is in the air, the first frost has come and gone, and now the maple leaves are strewn all across the yard – these are the traditional signs of the season coming to an end.  It is a time of much sadness for many as the tomato plants have died, as have most of the summer crops which cannot sustain the cold temperatures, but it is met with a sigh of relief by  the growers.  The days have just gotten a little bit easier!  Farms like ours have learned that in order to be competitive with the rest of the veggie world we have to grow all year round – or at least ensure that we grow enough storage crops to sustain us throughout the Winter market season (we do one all year round at New Haven’s Wooster Square) – but the labor required from here on out is limited compared to the  epically long days of September.  

It has been a solid three months since our last blog post and we attribute this to the simple fact that from  August through October the farm is slammed.  Our CSA and farmers markets were in the height of their respective season, and we also began our annual runs into NYC to deliver our tomatoes to specialty markets in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  Plus we also had factory runs to New haven to make our pasta sauces and Bloody Mary, and this year our new product, crushed Heirloom tomatoes.  The 2013 vintage is especially good! Even though the season is longer now then ever (we are growing about nine months of the year now) our main revenue stream is in these three months.  Two thirds of all of our crops, including the many tomato plants we grow, are harvested over this three month period.  Obviously, it is extremely exhausting but also tremendously satisfying to bring it all in.  This year the team was up to the task, amazingly so, and we thank all of them for their hard work.  Truly awesome! 

We have many things to celebrate this season, and considering how cool and wet is was in June, the past few months have been really spectacular for growing.  We delivered over sixty different vegetables this season,  and almost all of them were very high standard, though some certainly fared worse then others (peppers, for example, we simply lost because they sat in a section of one of our fields bogged down with water in June and never really recovered).  Our farm’s field manager was mostly responsible for this success. Jed Borken took over the field seeding and greenhouse seeding tasks last year and has run with it.  Diligent to all maters large and small, he was planting all the way up until mid October (greenhouse leeks, bok choy and chard!),  Waldingfield has had the best yields in our 24 years as a business.  It speak volumes as to Jed’s importance to the farm.  We will not name all of the wonderful crew we had this year but one member who deserves recognition is Dana Jackson.  He started back in April and his tireless energy, politically charged ramblings, and overall enthusiasm for farming was a great help when the chips were down and we had a ton of work to do.  We say cheers to them both.  

So, what remains in the fields, you may ask?  Well for one we have a massive broccoli crop  which we started to harvest two weeks ago.  we also have four types of kale, salad mix, arugula, mustard greens, asian salad greens, baby leeks, apples, fingerling potatoes, swiss chard, bok choy, and winter squash, all of which will head to our markets for the next six to eight week as well as to our CSAs.  All of the delicate greens are secure and snug under row covering (see pic above) and should last a while.  We extended our CSA program for another five weeks and they will enjoy the harvest as long as we do!

As the days get shorter there is still work to be done.  The fields no longer producing have been cover cropped with winter rye and the stand has been closed for regular business. It is a time for reflection and planning for the future.  Hopefully we will be back for another year in 2014.  Who knows.  But for now we’re gonna finish the next two months as strong as we can.