It’s 106° right now. Paul has gone out for the fourth time today (it’s Sunday) to “check water”. Daytime highs are predicted to be around 100° for the next 10 days. Keeping the crops and the field crew hydrated is essential to ensure harvestable produce in the next month or so.
Yesterday I took some photos of things as they manage. It was 100°.
Fennel, Kale, Collard and Scarlett Kale, ready to harvest.
Potatoes (in the foreground) are looking healthy.
These lettuces were planted two days ago.
The bees are very busy in the heat.
Looking across 6 weeks of lettuce plantings; Red Butter, Little Gem, Rosaine, Cherokee and Romaine. We need to cover the Little Gem in the last stage, so it’s not feeding the rabbits!
Summer is always busy. As the heat continues, we are relieved by the decision not to host the Saturday Farm Stand this year. Because we farm year-round, we have to use our energy wisely. Our sense of pace is maturing.
As summer approaches, Paul’s Produce has been reconsidering the Farm Stand we have operated for the last four years. This year we have decided not to open the Farm Stand despite overwhelming local support. It has been far beyond what we had expected or planned for, and the demand has continued to grow. It’s not for lack of interest that we’re making this decision. We hope our customers will come to understand our reasons.
As we (Candi and I) continue to age we are looking for ways to continue farming. We realize that we don’t bounce back quite as quickly after long hard days, and Saturdays have evolved into the hardest day of all. We also realize that we should begin paring down the number of crops that we grow for the sake of efficiency. The beauty of the farmers’ market, or selling to restaurants and wholesale markets is that we can more easily focus on our strengths without feeling the need to make a full variety of crops that we’ve come to be known for — especially at the Farm Stand.
This year has also been a hard start to the growing season for us because of the rain. Later than normal planting of almost everything, and the lagging volume in availability because of that. We’re not currently meeting the demand of any of our sales venues. That will begin to straighten out over the next month or two, but it brings us to the last and possibly more troubling problem. Namely, labor and the high cost of living in Sonoma Valley. I doubt anyone reading this would be surprised by this. Seasonal labor in a place with such high rents is difficult. Training takes time for anyone not familiar with the challenges of physical labor and the crop specific techniques that we employ. We feel it’s a better strategy to attempt year round employment for anyone who is up to the task of being in the field. To that end we’re trying to adjust our cropping and work load to even out the seasons for our crew instead of overwhelming ourselves with Summer crops.
We have always seen ourselves with a “Local First” focus. The Farm Stand was so positive and exciting, such an overwhelming boost from our community. As with all life, changes are inevitable and though the Farm Stand will be closed this year, we are open to the next evolution which could bring it back, given the right conditions and personnel.
Thanks for your understanding! And enjoy revisiting Farm Stands from the past 4 seasons.
Paul and Candi
Early in the season
A loyal shoppers
Suns in the sun
Lauren with the phitz-phitz
The first staff photo!
“Gotta try thees beans”
Marisol and Travis
Rebecca and Bea
Our favorite sign
2013, Orange Aprons, Teresa, me, Alexandra and Quinten
You can still find our produce at the Tuesday Farmers’ Market on the Plaza, 5:30- dark and Friday Farmers’ Market in Depot Park, 9-12:30.
This is the time of year that everything happens at once. Not enough time for much beyond the farm. Turning to the needs in the field is sometimes the best way to cope with scary environmental and political news. Focus on the bounty and abundance can steer one toward generosity and hope.
Planting lettuce has become much more precise and fun for the crew!
These lettuces have been in the ground several weeks.
Left to right: Little Gem, Red Butter and Cherokee lettuce, full grown, this week’s salad
People often ask why we don’t leave the beet greens on the beets. This is the answer. They just don’t look good. But the beets are fine, so the leaves are left in the field to nourish the soil.
Yellow straight-neck squash, in all it’s glory!
First winter squash planting is still flowering!
Winter squash is sizing up under a healthy leaf canopy.
3 melons plantings at various stages of maturity.
Fall’s onion crop is sizing up nicely!
Three weeks of beans. Once these are harvested, we’ll be finished with beans until next year.
New artichoke planting. These little plants should be yielding ‘chokes early next spring.
Looking across the fence, it’s interesting to see how the grapes have been corralled and exposed.
Field of zinnias behind the Farm Stand, invaded by giant pumpkins.
Our Saturday Farm Stand is off to a roaring start. We thank our supportive community. Couldn’t do it without you.
California has had a bunch of rain this month. And it’s taken a toll on our fields, especially the artichokes. Wet soil and wind combined to flatten many of the tall, in-full-production, gorgeous plants. I guess the weeds, mud compaction and cold hands are a small price to pay for the groundwater recharge. Onward!
Artichokes blown down
Hopefully this lettuce will recover when the sun comes out.
Paul’s shop has gotten more attention because of the rain. It shows in the organization here.
Asparagus is coming. Must be spring!
We are rich in cabbage, just in time for St. Patrick’s day!
These brussels sprouts are about done. They look crazy at this stage, like a big Dr. Seuss flower.
Strange as we adjust to a wet forecast with heavy rains in December and January. Our soils were too wet to plant for months. Transplants were ready but had nowhere to go. Finally we are back planting after a much longer break than in the past 4 years, maybe more. That means we will have gaps in product coming this spring. We already see it at the Farmers’ Market, with far less lettuce to sell than customers are ready to buy.
But we’re rolling along now. Even though, several storms are poised on the horizon, we have taken advantage of the warm, dry spell that we’ve been enjoying for a month. Lettuces, greens, fennel and more have been tucked into the ground, waiting now for a rain, hopefully not too much.
The next beds of carrots.
Collard is beginning to flower next to beds waiting for transplants.
Artichokes are in full production right now.
The bee hives have various degrees of activity. This one was very busy with the spring-like temperatures and numerous flowers blooming. Our insect pollinators are struggling these days, a whole other story.
Bell beans in cover crop
Brussels sprouts just before they were tilled under. Aphids got to them.
Snap (on the left) and English peas
Snap peas are close!
Moving irrigation pipes into the field is an essential part of the planting day.
Filling the truck with transplants from the greenhouse before nestling them into the ground.
The small greenhouse has moved! And it’s back in action, just in time.
This view is from the back of the tool. It shows a cage-like roller, which will follow the aggressive disc, to break up large chunks of soil.
Paul with his chain driven hoist, makes the welding far easier.
New discs. They’ll never look like this again.
Our cultivating tractor sits idle most of the winter.
Yes, celery root and parsnips are making an appearance on our table at the farmers’ market this week. We’re all longing for cooler, wet weather. Wandering around the fields this early evening, I am speechless for the beauty.
The crop of beets (red, gold and chioggia) look lush. Should begin to harvest in a few weeks.
Parsnips were harvested out of this row for tomorrow’s market.
Paul is reluctant to pose for me, too busy.
The romaine this week was huge!
Leeks dashing across the ground
Brocoli and cauliflower
I promise there are small carrots coming. This is the next 7 beds.
Aren’t these brassicas Amazing!
A little swale planting, to slow down the water. Looking ahead toward rain.
The onion transplant bed
Next week’s Little Gems.
Chocolate brown pasilla peppers. Dry them for a traditional mole sauce.
The low field has been cover cropped.
Pumpkins to sell tomorrow
Hard to believe but we’re more than half way through 2015. Pumpkins and other winter squash are ripening. The corn is finished, much to the disappointment of our local customers. Tomatoes are ripe and the melons are so aromatic the bees are tumbling around in their flowers. The pictures should speak louder than my words.
August 11, just before the onions began drying down.
August 23, onions drying down
Paul preps the field for planting chicories.
Winter squash is thriving, with Santos planting chicories in the background.
Serrano peppers are loaded!
Two types of lettuce, ready to transplant, with a bed all ready.
Four successions of sunflowers, planted every two weeks.
Eggplant! The first planting was lost. This crop is coming very soon.
Fennel and radicchio dot the field.
Our kales and other greens have had a hard summer.
The next two crops of beans. We’ve been gapping on beans. They should be back at the market next week…
Giant pumpkins are revealing themselves by the Farm Stand.
“Sunshine” kabocha squash
Shallots and red onions dry under the big old oak. Nice place for the bees, huh?