Starting the Late Summer Harvest and a Visit to the Food Forest
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This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
Colorful Italian Sweet Peppers
This Week's Fruit Harvest:
''Thomcord' (nearly seedless) Grapes
Good morning from the farm! We hope you were able to enjoy your Labor Day weekend.
Even though the plants didn't take a break on Monday (!), we limited our team's labor to just the essentials to allow everyone time to relax and enjoy the sunny day.
Luckily, we've enjoyed many sunny days in the vegetable fields and food forest this season! We thought we'd provide a brief update from year two in the food forest. In short, we're seeing growth!
Last season, we planted a 6-acre food forest made up of nearly 400 fruit and nut trees, over 300 berry bushes, and 3,000 asparagus plants to follow the natural land slope contours of our farmland. A food forest is based on a concept to mimic natural ecosystems and nature's patterns with planted native crops. As organic farmers, we strive to add more than we take from our land, to build and regenerate soil life and health, and to steward our agriculture to draw down carbon from the atmosphere.
Our food forest continues to be a great area of learning for our whole crew (and our kids!) and just recently, we started to see the first trees emerging from the tops of their animal/weather protections.
Throughout the season, we replanted trees where they did not survive through last winter, weeded, added additional mulch, and created a new marking system to track individual plant's growth.
Vegetable farming is likely one of the highest intensity types of farming. For example, most vegetable crops are harvested within 30-60 days of planting vs. the time horizon for substantial food forest harvests will likely be several years into the future. So, permaculture farming creates a slower, quieter way of farming for us amongst the small, potential-filled trees. The growth of these perennial plants demonstrates (more slowly) the lasting impact of the weather fluctuations, and challenges us to understand different disease and pest pressures. Thusly, these require different management styles and skills from us as farmers.
That said, most of the perennials in our food forest are native and thankfully, thrive in our natural environment! Jeff recently found some of the first foods in the food forest which included elderberries (pictured above) and earlier this spring, asparagus plants in the field.
The field is serene and encourages us to think in longer time horizons. In the future, our vision is to add livestock to these fields to graze the grasses between trees and deposit fertility in the process, creating an even greater positive impact for soil and natural environment regeneration. As our organic certifier said, "This farm is a biodiversity haven!" and we intend to foster this haven into the future for us all.
Cheers, Jeff, Jen and the PWFF Farm Crew
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Apple and pear season begins in earnest in late summer and we always take full advantage for our fruit share members! This week's share includes familiar varieties, Gala and Bartlett, to accompany the Thomcord grapes, a concord-like, nearly seedless variety, a favorite amongst kids we know. Enjoy these easy-to-eat treats, and as we get into the cooler temperatures of late summer, you can expect great apple and pear varieties for cooking, baking and storage. Here's to flavor diversity!
Radishes are back! We always enjoy seeing the combination of mid-summer crops (peppers) and fall crops (radishes) in late summer shares as its a tangible reminder to embrace the changing midwest seasons. This week's radishes are on the spicier side as they've been exposed to last week's heat. Don't forget to separate the radishes from the greens (and bag both separately in your refrigerator) to keep the roots nice and crispy.
This week, the mid-summer pepper harvest continues with plenty of Italian frying sweet peppers (red and yellow in color) for all. Use these in anything that calls for colorful bell peppers.