Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Strawberry Day 2017…What a Fun Day!

 By Farmers Richard & Andrea

Last Sunday we hosted our 24th annual Strawberry Day event at the farm. While this day is sometimes a scorcher, we were pleased to have a very pleasant day for the party. With just a little rain overnight and a few clouds passing through, we made it through the day with just a few sprinkles of rain. The cloud cover and temperatures in the 70’s was the perfect backdrop for comfortable strawberry picking. We had an estimated 120-130 members in attendance. One member referred to our visitors as members of our “fan club.” Our “fan club” included people ranging in age from the very little ones riding in carriers with their moms to seasoned veterans returning to the farm for another visit to check in on us and make sure we still know what we’re doing!  

We started off the event with our annual potluck. We enjoy seeing our vegetables return to the farm in various forms. Jars of fermented vegetables and salsas preserved from last year’s bounty, pasta tossed with garlic scape pesto garnished with sugar snap peas and baby white turnips, and strawberry-rhubarb lemonade were just a few of the foods that made their way to this year’s potluck. We also enjoyed a delicious and refreshing batch of Strawberry Basil Kombucha made with our strawberries and basil by NessAlla. Of course a farm party isn’t complete without Iced Maple Latte made with cold brew coffee from Kickapoo coffee!

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After the potluck, we loaded up the harvest wagons and made our way to the fields to check out some crops.  We enjoy taking members to the fields every year and feel that it makes your CSA experience so much more personal and meaningful when you can see for yourselves what it takes to grow and care for your vegetables.  Field tours have also proven to be a very meaningful and formative experience for children who visit the farm, and this year was no different.  On our first stop, Richard took a group over to check out the onions.  He showed them how to pull the purple scallions, clean them, and then of course you have to eat them!  This year’s purple scallions are pretty pungent, but that didn’t deter some of the kids and adults alike to try eating them raw right there in the field.  Richard was afraid the hot onions might leave a negative impression on one young member, but quite the contrary.  She did acknowledge they were hot, but described it as a “good hot.”  Not the kind of heat you get from hot salsa, but rather a healthy kind of hot.  She didn’t even fall victim to onion crying!  On the other side of the field, Andrea showed a group of members how to pick basil and rainbow chard.  Everyone commented about how fresh the basil smelled when it was picked right there in the field!  A few people who had never tasted fresh basil were able to pick some and get their first taste right there in the field.  Next to the basil we found the rainbow chard.  There were a few children and adults who were not familiar with this vegetable, so we found some big leaves to pick and sample.  Everyone who tried it agreed that it was pretty tasty.  What a sight to see children munching on a chard leaf in the field!  Awesome!

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The next stop on our tour was the potato field.  One member made an observation when we were in the field that when Farmer Richard picks up a carrot fork and starts walking, everyone follows in anticipation of what he might find!  We wanted to stop at this field so we could dig some potato plants and check the progress.  First we had to identify the early variety, Red Norland.  Once we found that variety in the field we looked for plants with blossoms and hopefully some cracking on the ground around the plant which would indicate potatoes swelling and growing underneath.  We dug a few plants, and did find some potatoes, but they were tiny!  We did make the assessment that we need to give them a few more weeks before we start harvesting them, but we observed great potential on the plants we took a look at!  There were as many as 10 potatoes forming on one of the plants. With a few more weeks to grow, we should get pretty good yields on our harvest.  As we walked back to the wagons we took a look at the winter squash crop which looks pretty nice.  At this point we paused to take a vote as to where to go next and the consensus from the group was to move on to STRAWBERRIES!  

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As we approached the field, we could smell the scent of the berries wafting our way.  Even though we were at the tail end of the season, there were still nice berries in the field.  It just took a little more time and patience to find them, but we didn’t have the hot sun beating down on our backs so everyone just settled into picking and took their time.  There was plenty of sampling in the field, but no one declared themselves too hungry for strawberry ice cream!  There were over 200 pounds of strawberries picked on Sunday.  We didn’t weigh any children or adults before and after picking, so this is just an estimate of the berries picked and eaten in the field as well as those that were taken home.  

When the wagons returned to the farm, we all enjoyed a bowl of strawberry ice cream.  This is a highlight of every Strawberry Day as this is one-of-a kind ice cream made for us by Castle Rock Organic Dairy using our very own strawberries in a higher ratio than normal.  It was described as the “best ice cream ever” and many people commented about how creamy it was….as they ate a second serving!

Over the course of the day we enjoyed our conversations with members, both those we have known for years as well as new members visiting the farm for the first time!  We watched children playing together throughout the day.  Some used their imaginations to pretend the wagon was their pirate ship and they showed us handfuls of their “gold,” which we usually just call gravel.  We had some runners in the group too.  When they got off the wagons they started at one end of the field and ran the entire length of the field and back!  What energy!  It must be all the organic vegetables they are eating!  It’s wonderful to see children feeling free to run, play, experience and enjoy their day on the farm.  

We are grateful to everyone who took the time to come and spend the day with us.  We appreciate the opportunity to visit with you, show you our farm, and get to know you more personally.  Your faces and stories stay with us and we think of you throughout the year as we work.  We would also like to thank our crew members who volunteered to help us set up, clean up, assist in the strawberry field, drive the tractors, etc.  We couldn’t do this all by ourselves and we appreciate their willingness to participate in making this a fun and memorable day for everyone.

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If you weren’t able to make it to the farm for Strawberry Day, we hope you’ll consider joining us for the Harvest Party in the fall.  We’ll have field tours, pumpkin picking, live music, games and another delicious potluck!

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