Somehow, we have entered August: How long ago was it we were waiting on leafy greens, and now we’re rolling into August’s tomato bounty? It feels like both a year and a minute at the same time.
A cool, wet spring started running a fever in June, and we’re still in the grips of a fever dream of a summer. Although tropical heat and humidity seem to have settled in, we’ve seen precious few of the storms that usually accompany such conditions in the last several months. We’re lucky to have significant irrigation capacity, but our patchwork of fields and plantings don’t lend themselves well to efficient irrigation, except those crops that we water with drip irrigation. Unrelenting heat only compounds the effects of the drought, and combined with unreliable forecasts, misleading conditions, and equipment problems can lead very quickly to crop failures. In particular, our frenetic planting and seeding plans are prone to mayhem when weather or irrigation equipment is uncooperative.
Many of our crops are able to be drip irrigated and so have escaped the worst effects of the dry – tomatoes and peppers have been abundant and high quality, squash, and cucumbers (until recently) have likewise weathered the conditions well and continue to produce. But crops that we direct seed (like carrots and beets) have experienced some spotty germination, and sweet corn, which we set out in relatively large plantings on a weekly basis, has been difficult to keep adequately hydrated, with resulting low yields and partial crop failures. We have a couple months’ worth of corn in the ground yet to ripen, and we have high hopes for it, but we will have chronic shortages over the next couple weeks.
Another problem associated with extended dry periods is that our irrigated crops become much more attractive to wildlife – famished flocks of birds shred our ripening corn, dehydrated deer and coyotes move into our watermelon plantings well before they’re ripe, before it even occurred to us they might need protection. On the very small positive side of the ledger, dry weather does tend to produce intensely flavored fruits, so tomatoes are especially delicious this year and we have begun to offer the ‘Bounty Basket’ deal so you can enjoy even more of them! Unfortunately, it looks like our apple crop will be almost nonexistent this season, and our supplier of sweet potato slips informed us at the last moment that they wouldn’t be coming through this year, so we will have none to offer.
Despite hiccups and frustrations, we will continue to have a big variety of fruits and vegetables available as we go into the fall. We’ve begun to dig potatoes, winter squash harvest will commence soon, celery should make an appearance along with the reappearance of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Lettuce continues to grow despite adverse conditions, and of course we’re waiting with bated breath for the arrival of the season’s first rutabaga! We wanted to say thank you to you, our amazing and gracious customers. We know this year has been hard on everyone, and we so appreciate how patient, kind, and courteous you all have been while waiting in line, following crew instructions, diligently using hand sanitizer, wearing your masks, and being so conscientious of your fellow customers and of our crew. Thank you.
In addition to new crops appearing all the time, we have also increased our “Farmers’ Choice Bag of Veggies” to two sizes – you will now found a small ($20) and a large ($30) sized bags on our online store, and if there is enough demand we can certainly add an even larger size (the Jumbo?) Thank you to everyone who has tried out this option! We have had to decrease our “a la carte” options on there, and we are very sorry, it’s just a lot to handle on top of everything else this season. We are thrilled to see how many of you are taking advantage of the “Farmers Choice Bags” though – it works well for us and we should be able to keep this up through October for contactless curbside pickup at the stand, and for pickup at the farmers markets.
And a note of housekeeping – the governor has lifted the reusable bag ban! We are thrilled to have you all bring you bags back into the farmstand – we do ask that you bag your own items just to reduce our staff touching your bags, but we are very happy to be using fewer disposable bags.
Thank you all for your patronage so far this season – adjusting is difficult, but together we’re muddling through – we really appreciate your positive attitudes, smiles, and thumbs up!
We hope to see you (from a six-foot distance) soon to enjoy New England’s bounty,
-Brian Cramer, Liza Bemis, and the Hutchins Farm team
Top row left to right: watching a thunderstorm go around us to the east, tomatoes in buckets. Bottom row left to right: Sweet yellow onions being pulled, planting corn.