Posts Tagged ‘harvest’

Market time!

All the work and planning that goes into growing food comes to this – a successful harvest, and then selling that food to people to enjoy!

Harvesting the Bounty

Kale

Kale

We’ve moved into that busy time of year of harvest and market. Every Friday, UBC Farm practicum students, staff, and volunteers gather to harvest for the market. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent time harvesting salad greens – bunching lettuce, spinach and chard – as well as green garlic, kale, collards, and herbs, and several hours in the hot sun gathering sweet strawberries and amazing blueberries.

The planning and work that goes into harvest is quite intensive. In the days leading up to harvest day, field managers take an inventory of what they think they can get out of their fields,and market managers use past information and projection to get an idea of how much can be sold. It’s a fine balance, one that takes into account many years of experience and knowing your audience. Too much harvested from the field will result in wasted produce, and too little will disappoint customers and may result in reduced customer base, not to mention lost revenue.2013-06-21 12.42.53

One of the best things about harvest days is a shared lunch. Every Friday, 2 people cook a huge meal for everyone, and we all gather and eat together. So much outdoor work makes for a hungry group, and it’s always a great time, hanging out with everyone over good, simple food.

To Market We Go

All of that harvest ends up on the tables of the UBC Saturday farmer’s market. Salad mix, mustard greens, kale and collards abound, and cucumbers, zucchini, garlic scapes, and radishes have been making their appearances. UBC Farm is known for their eggs, and they always sell out early, with people happy to pay for eggs that come from very happy chickens.

This past week, I had the opportunity to be on market duty, standing behind the produce stand and letting people know what things are, how they might cook with them, and happy to chat about how things are grown out in the field. Getting to talk to people about the food we’re growing gave me so much energy, I really loved seeing people’s reactions to new produce and exchanging ideas on cooking recipes.

I’m really looking forward to continuing to be a part of the harvest and market rotations, which really is the point of all of this!

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New Crops Galore!

It’s been a busy few weeks of planting, weeding, and harvesting at the farm. With the ongoing good weather, things have been growing like crazy.

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Getting plants going on the farm is an ongoing process. Sequences of salad mix greens and brassicas continue to be planted, to ensure an ongoing harvest. I was able to get to use the JP Hand Seeder to plant arugula and radishes, quick growing spring crops. The seeder is a tool that greatly speeds up planting, and helps ensure even spacing, cutting out thinning time later, and straighter lines, for easier weeding and harvest. We also spent a few hours putting squash and cucumber transplants into the ground, poking holes in black bio-plastic mulch, which protects the plant from excessive weed growth, keeps the soil warmer while retaining water, and makes it so that the fruit won’t sit directly on the ground, which can lead to rotting. 2013-06-13 10.39.58

With a small army of 10 practicum students to do these kind of transplanting tasks, we get the job done relatively quickly (although my planting speed is less than half that of the experienced farmers), and it often makes me wonder – how does a small-scale, 2 person organic farm get things done?

Pruning and Harvesting

With greenhouse tomato plants getting to about 3 feet tall, we spent sometime pruning off the suckers. When a tomato vine grows on a farm, we want it to grow with just one, maybe two, main stems, in order to concentrate the plant’s energy into fruit production, as well as keep the vine in control, so each new stem must be cut off. We learned to identify each new sucker – the new stem with multiple leaves, growing in the crotch of the main stem and a single-leaf branch.

2013-06-14 14.18.00The exciting moments came with the harvesting – strawberries! Plucking the ripe red berries from the low bushes, with just a couple samples (it’s a tough job, but someone needs to make sure they taste good), is a sure sign of summer. Although not the farm’s first harvest, the strawberries are the first harvest I’ve participated in this year, and it’s very exciting, signalling a change from season preparation into the long days of harvest and market.

Bees!

The other day, on our way back from the field, we saw a massive swarm of bees not far from the hives. For a while, they flew all around in a huge swarm, but then settled into a mass of bees along the ground and a few low branches of a nearby tree. Relatively harmless, the hive had produced a second Queen, and the first had stopped laying, making herself small enough to fly, as I learned from the beekeeper who arrived a while later. Taking off, about 30-50% of the hive follows her in search of a new home. When the beekeeper arrived with a new hive for them, with honey in it to smell like home, he gently clipped the branches the bees had settled on, and placed them in the hive, where eventually the other bees followed. Overall, a pretty exciting afternoon.

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