Week 19: Vegetable life cycle complete

There was a change in the air today and nobody knew why, but we all agreed: it smelled like winter. Cold, wet ground and cold, windy air, a characteristic winter look about the farm--no longer the beautiful sunny fall days with still-vibrant plants. Though it was cloudy and cool all day we still had to work to keep the just-picked greens from wilting--not from sun and heat this time, but from the unrelenting wind. All plants are noticing this change to the cold months; nothing but the storage crops is in its prime anymore. We're just getting vegetables out of the field while they're still useful.

The individual vegetables in your share might not look too different from week to week, but over time we all get to see the full cycle of production from these plants here at the farm. Remember when the spinach was huge and meaty, each leaf picked individually from the plant? Now the leaves are small, clear-cut with a knife to get all we can.  This is perhaps the biggest difference from grocery store vegetables: the fact that the size, shape, and taste of the produce varies over the course of the season as the plants mature and then decline. Commercial farms grow precisely what works best with their soil, at the optimal time of year, harvest it all at once at the peak and then it's on to the next crop. Winter spinach from the south; summer spinach from the north. Greens from California and its balmy bug-free climate. Tomatoes from Florida and carrots and cabbage from New York, or even Canada. No commercial wholesale farmer in Virginia would even think of having this variety of crops all in production at once, but for farmers like us, that's precisely the point. You get to have a connection to what's actually happening on the farm, in real time, as borne out by your weekly "snapshot" of production.