First, this May we purchased a walk-in cooler. Although my relatives weren’t to pleased to help me move the 800-pound behemoth from Fargo to the back of our machine shed, I’m really pumped up about using it. It’s pretty small by walk-in cooler standards (6 feet wide, 4 feet deep, 8 feet tall), but it will greatly improve harvest around here. You might be thinking that this will just allow me to pawn off less-fresh produce on you all, but, in actuality, it will allow you to receive better produce. Up to this point, we’ve had to harvest on delivery day or the day before, sometimes picking at less than optimal times. We can now pick beans on a Monday or Tuesday when they are at their optimal size and ripeness instead of waiting a few days too late. Weather also plays a factor…we can pick Thursday morning so we won’t rip up the garden and cover everything in mud during a thunderstorm. Lastly, the cooler will help the produce keep longer. Even if picked on a pretty cool day, all produce retains field heat, which will cause vegetables to go bad very quickly if the core temperature isn’t brought down. Now we hydro-cool most of our produce to get the core temperature down by soaking the veggies in a tub of cool well water, but some time spent in the cooler will help even more.
Second, we brought a new field into production last fall, giving us another ½ acre to play with. We’ve been struggling over the last few years to fit everything in, especially space-hungry crops like squash and pumpkins. Typically we get to the last bed in June and we have 6 or 8 flats of plant that still need to get into the ground. The new field has allowed us to plant a fuller range of squash, including Hubbards and Buttercup—which we’ve never grown before—as well as a whole another succession of corn and more melons.
Third, we’re in process of putting together a farm stand for the end of our driveway. We’re getting some posts and beams from a barn tear down and will putting it together between now and mid-August. I want it to have the “look” of a farm stand and I figure the old recycled timbers will do the trick. Right now it’s still an idea on paper, but I’m excited by the prospect of having a place people can pick up some local produce as well as other local products like honey. So many people travel the Pelican and Vergas area, but don’t have a way to experience our farm landscape, so this will give them a stop. Also, I know of a number of people who would like to pick up some produce here and there, but are not interested in becoming a member like yourself for a whole season, so this will allow them to do that. We’re looking to do a first-year run featuring fall crops this September-October on the weekends only. We’ll see how it goes.