We’ve had quite the week of Indian summer this week, enough to finally start ripening outdoor tomatoes and peppers at a reasonable rate. Looking down at the bins of tomatoes we harvested from our outdoor plants, I couldn’t help but feel that we’ve benefitted from some borrowed time. There was a real chance a few weeks ago of a pretty solid frost, so I’m feeling especially grateful for these last two batched of canned sauce. We spent the week mostly harvesting, not only for the CSA boxes but for this weekend’s Harvest Festival. Green Lake loves tourists, and nothing attracts a bunch of tourists like two days full of farm fresh produce, arts and crafts/craps, a parade, a classic car show, and fried cheese curds. Fortunately/unfortunately, our stand full of fresh organic vegetables was situated immediately next to the very popular fried cheese curd stand. We were downwind on Saturday, but fortunately the wind favored us on Sunday, and we didn’t go home smelling like used cooking oil for a second time. We had a few big hits this weekend. Fortuitously, our shiitake logs chose this weekend to send forth the first flush of fruits this fall. We harvested the first of our Brussels sprouts, which we sell right on the stalk. We also brought some really giant kohlrabi, which was eye-catching and conversation-starting at the very least. We sold out of Brussels sprouts three times (I ran back to the farm to harvest more on Sunday morning), and we still had requests all afternoon that we couldn’t fill. All three of these conversation-starters resulted in lots of educational conversations, which resulted in notably fewer sales. Smiling and explaining is part of any market, but the sheer volume of people passing by raised the educational component exponentially. It turns out that people who only stop in the farmers market section to buy cheese curds usually don’t know what a kohlrabi is, that Brussels sprouts grow on stalks, or that you can grow mushrooms. I don’t mind explaining things, but I do wish that more people would feel a little pull to buy something after taking up my time to learn something. The two-day-long market was also a good opportunity to see what really moved product that doesn’t necessarily sell itself. A few observations: little signs labeling bags prevents people from having to feel stupid asking what a beet is, people are less likely to pick out mushrooms from a giant basket than to pick up a quart or a pint of them, and that the old trope location location location really rings true on a market table.
Finally, some very exciting news on the Future Farm front, in which my uncle Paul has used a sweet new tractor implement to open up the first few small fields. They’re far away from the farmhouse, down at the end of an old horse pasture, so they’ll be for growing crops that are not favored but he omnipresent grazing deer, like onions, garlic, winter squash, dried beans, and eventually even potatoes. They’re a hundred feet long and 5-6 beds wide. We laid out the terraces last weekend, and he send me this picture taken from the road after he finished tilling the three parcels for the first time:
Thinking about: variety, salesmanship, farm dogs
Eating: bacon kale quiche, homemade spaghetti bolognese, tiny testing tastes of canned sauces
Reading: David James Duncan's The Brothers K, Ron Macher’s Making Your Small Farm Profitable, Eliot Coleman’s Four-Season Harvest