|It is with a considerable sense of relief that we leave the summer of 2023 behind us, and see the light change into its usual golden hue this fall. Although we haven’t experienced a frost yet, most of our hot weather crops have long since succumbed to disease brought on by constant rain and waterlogged soil.|
In many respects, we were lucky—we didn’t have quite the torrential rain and flooding that afflicted other parts of the region at various times (Vermont, Western Mass, Leominster, and, as recently as a couple days ago, NYC), and although we have an abundance of low-lying, flood prone fields, we also have some high and dry, well-drained acreage. We were also fortunate that, although the Concord River that borders the farm was constantly threatening to spill into our fields, and still is alarmingly high, it never made any big inroads into production areas, only lapping at the edges—most of the flooding we experienced was from rain so heavy that our roads flowed like streams, with water gathering in vast puddles in the lowest areas of our fields. So relatively speaking, we were lucky, but it didn’t feel that way as we watched, incredulous, as each successive storm arrived, and often with completely unpredictable (and unpredicted) results.
We’re also fortunate in that we grow so many different things—so even failures or difficulties with certain crops aren’t quite the disaster that it could be on a farm that depends entirely on one or a small number of crops. This season, for example, we had probably the most successful garlic crop we’ve had in the time I’ve been here: the unending rains had just begun when the garlic was ready to harvest, and we promptly dug it and cured it, suffering very little loss. Despite our record-breaking crop, we are sold out of garlic for the season. The onions, which began maturing just a few weeks later, were not so fortunate, with unrelenting wet weather resulting in the loss of close to 80% of what had, up until that point, looked to be an excellent crop. The few that we were able to harvest are likewise sold out. Most crops fared somewhere between these two extremes, with few outright failures, and few unmitigated successes.
Of the successes, the most dramatic (apart from the garlic perhaps) are the potatoes, which, planted in an exceptionally well-drained field, clearly prospered in the cool, wet weather they favor, resulting in big yields for all the varieties we grow. Other storage crops have fared reasonably well, with lots of sweet potatoes (still undergoing post-harvest curing, ready for sale by this coming weekend), good yields of certain types of winter squash and pumpkins, and promising late crops of carrots (still in the ground). Beets, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips, and leeks are all in evidence, but not in their usual abundance for this time of year. Rutabagas, alas, are almost non-existent—I suppose if we had to pick a crop to fail, we might choose that one.
Our apple crop looked very promising during bloom, but frost in mid-May and constant moisture led to some attrition—we managed to produce a creditable crop (for us) with more varieties being picked through the end of the month. As always, their cosmetic blemishes of sooty blotch and fly speck make them look unsightly, but they are extremely tasty!
Peppers hot and sweet and eggplant are the only hot-weather crops that are still producing (and producing well!), while we still have productive plantings of lettuce, scallions, endive, escarole, arugula, radishes, kale, collards, mustard greens and bok choy. We will see limited quantities of cilantro, dill, parsley and chard in the upcoming weeks, and might even see a late picking of beans in the upcoming week or two.
Given our bumper crop of potatoes, we anticipate having adequate quantities to offer 50 lb bags of several varieties available for pre-order, and hope that our carrot crop will allow us to offer 25 lb bags as well—look for an official announcement with details about availability and how to order in the next week or so as we continue the harvest this week and are able to better project our yields.
We hope you’ll be able to stop in before the farmstand closes for the season on Tuesday, October 31st. It’s been a wild ride this year, but our farmstand is still full with an abundance as we head into this final month. As always please check our website as always for the most up to date listing of what is available. We are grateful for another season of gracious customers who continue to support us. Thank you!
We hope to see you soon at the farmstand, or at the markets! -Brian Cramer, Liza Bemis, and the Hutchins Farm Crew
October Newsletter 2023: Last Day of the Farmstand: Oct 31st