Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August Crop Mob at Remembrance Farm- Recap & Pictures!

A big thanks to Genevieve DeClerck and Evan Wray for the beautiful photos!

The day of fortune is like a harvest day, We must be busy when the corn is ripe. -Torquato Tasso

Summer's end heralds the harvest time, the most simultaneously demanding and gratifying time of year. Like a strict teacher, it insists upon our constant dedication, industry, and zeal, but it is under its high expectations that we realize our biggest gains. The language of the harvest is deeply imbued with cultural meaning. We reap what has been sown. Our ideas bear fruit, or we seek the fruits of our labor. We glean, we squirrel away. Preserve. Produce. Yield. Vintage. The Grim Reaper with his scythe reminds us that winter eventually comes for us all.

Last weekend the Ithaca Crop Mob joined Nathaniel of Remembrance Farm in Trumansburg to observe the rite of the harvest. Remembrance Farm, one of the three farms of the Full Plate Farm Collective CSA, specializes in salad greens, root vegetables, and eggs. On Saturday we met to harvest the onions that would feed the CSA's more than 500 members, as well as area restaurants and others through Regional Access.

Our August Crop Mob crew! Kim, Scott, Thomas, Kirk, and other mobbers.

 Cameron and Kevin harvesting at the far end of the field.

Showing off my harvest!

Nathaniel says onion growing usually suits him, citing onions' lack of pest problems (humans are unique in their fondness for alliums, with thrips being a notable exception), but this year's weather wasn't kind to the onions- dry spells earlier in the season retarded growth and led to small bulbs.

When onions' green tops begin to fall over, wither, and turn brown, they are ready for harvest. Our job was to pull out the onions and lay them out in the beds to dry in the sun. A couple of days later, Nathaniel would collect them for further storage and curing. Remembrance Farm uses biodegradable black plastic mulch for growing onions, with holes cut out for clusters of three or four onions each. By this time of the season, the black plastic mulch is showing its age- weeds poking through in some places and holes widening. By spring planting next year, it will have degraded completely.

Onions laying out in the sun to dry.

Halfway through our harvesting adventure, Nathaniel brought out a load of beautiful Halona cantaloupes for us to enjoy. Casualties of overwatering, they were split down the sides, rendering them unsalable but still perfectly sweet, juicy and delicious. The treat was especially welcome in the warm sun!

In four hours, our crew of 18 worked our way through 12 beds of yellow and red onions- three beds had already been done, bringing the total to 15. According to Nathaniel, each bed typically produces 1500 pounds of onions, but he expected yields to be smaller this year. His smaller estimation was nonetheless impressive- we helped to harvest an approximate total of 15,000-20,000 pounds of onions! After our job was done, Nathaniel treated us to a most delicious lunch -- beans, rice, kimchi, and fresh Remembrance Farm baby salad greens.

 Nathaniel estimating the yield.

Evan and the onion field.

Thanks to our crew that came out for our August Crop Mob, and a special thanks to Nathaniel at Remembrance Farm for having us out!

See you next time,

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