Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Strawberry Day 2018!

By Farmer Richard

We plan for working around the weather every day, and party days are no different!  This past Sunday we hosted our annual Strawberry Day event and it was a hot one!  We had planned for about 200 people, but the forecast for a hot day with the possibility of thunderstorms must’ve deterred our visitors.  We did have about 100 people in attendance with just two brave families camping.  Were we disappointed?  No!  We enjoyed the smaller numbers which allowed us to have more personal contact with those in attendance.  We had a great crowd of interested members and some of them brought extended family and friends as well.  We had a great day! Thankfully the weather cooperated.  Hot?  Yes, but we had a nice breeze, traveled on covered wagons, parked in the shade and drank lots of ice water.  Our campers enjoyed their night in the valley.  Did the choir of frogs keep them awake?  No, they had the best night’s sleep they’d had in weeks!

Headed through the fields on the wagon tour!
After enjoying a delicious potluck picnic lunch, everyone found their place on the wagons and we started off down the road for the field tour.  Given the heat, we decided to stay close to the home farm and had intended to cut the field tour a little short.  Even though we only traveled from one end of our home farm to the other, we still had a lengthy field tour as everyone was interested in learning about the crops along the way, stopped to harvest some for themselves and asked great questions!  At our first stop we harvested celtuce, a new crop in this week’s box that originated in China.  We were thankful that Christopher, a member from Madison, brought his parents with him to the party and they are from China!  We considered them to be our guest “experts” about celtuce and they shared some of their uses for preparing it.  We really appreciated their contributions and one young CSA member even had a chance to practice speaking Mandarin Chinese with them!  While we were hanging out in the celtuce field, some members wandered into the adjacent field to pick baby dill, arugula, turnips, radishes, cilantro and some baby lettuce while learning more about which crops we plant every week as well as some of the opportunities and challenges associated with growing these vegetables.

Richard explaining what we look for in ripe garlic.
We jumped back onto the wagon and continued on to the far end of the garlic field.  We had to stop and dig a few garlic just to see how they were doing.  Garlic harvest will be happening within the next month, so we learned how to read the signs of the plant to make the decision about when to harvest.  We also learned a little bit about how we irrigate the garlic crop from our lead irrigation crew member, Vicente.  As we left the garlic field and headed to the other end of the farm, we got a good look at the second planting of tomatillos and tomatoes.  They look really nice and will be ready for staking and tying very soon!

On our way to the strawberry field we made a brief stop in the zucchini and cucumber field.  We are just starting to pick these crops, but we had to stop and see how many full-sized fruit we could find.  The cucumbers are a solid mass of beautiful vines.  I asked for only a few volunteers to help me and Vicente find some cucumbers and zucchini to cut.  Our helpers did a good job, but couldn’t resist harvesting a few themselves!  Their squeals of excitement when finding the hidden jewels was a joy to hear.  As we pulled away from the field, most of the people on my wagon were eating a juicy, cooling cucumber.  That’s one way to beat the heat!

Stawberry fields filled with guests!
Our final stop along the tour was the strawberry field.  In less than one hour we had collectively picked quite a lot of beautiful ripe berries.  A few committed pickers stayed late to pick more.  Lisa, Carol and Paul were on a mission to pick their annual quota of strawberries and collectively walked out of the field with 50# of berries altogether!  Overall we estimate that we picked about 235 pounds of strawberries.  Of course we can’t weigh the berries that we ate in the field, so this is just an estimate.

We were all happy to enjoy a bowl of cold strawberry ice cream when we returned to the packing shed.  While the day was hot, we were grateful that the thunderstorms held off until later in the evening after everyone was well on their way home.  We had a great day and personally, I really appreciated the opportunity to connect with this group of cool CSA members and families of all ages.  Hearing people say “Thanks, we had a great time!” as they left was music to my ears.  A visit to the farm can be a very special thing.  If you weren’t able to join us for Strawberry Day, we hope you’ll consider coming to our Harvest Party in the fall.  In the meantime, enjoy the strawberries in your CSA boxes!

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