If you’re ever wondering what we’re up to on a Friday morning, I can tell you that we’re harvesting for the Saturday market. Harvest mornings mean that we go around the farm and hand-pick every vegetable that is at its perfect stage. We can tell that each vegetable is at its perfect stage from tasting it, feeling it, and by the colour and (sometimes) the smell. For lunch after a harvest morning, we prepare vegetables that we’ve just picked so that we know how spicy the arugula is that week, how sweet the Hakurei salad turnips are, and how tender the broccoli stalks are. This way, when we get to market, we know whether to recommend the arugula to someone who only likes it mildly peppery or whether the radishes will please the person who likes them to have a kick.
We start harvests before the sun heats the farm, when the cool dew is still on the leafy greens, so that they won’t wilt or be bitter (lettuce harvested in the afternoon is often bitter, but that same head of lettuce will be sweet if harvested the next morning). As soon as the veggies are harvested, we take them to our washing station. The washing station is a covered area under which we rinse our produce in deep sinks and a tub. We’re super lucky on the farm to have a clean, spring-fed well where all of our water for rinsing and irrigating (and drinking) comes from. It comes out of the tap very cold which helps the vegetables hold their nutrients and stay crispy and fresh.
After rinsing, the vegetables are stored in our market bins and put in the walk-in cooler. Bryan made the walk-in cooler in the north side of our house with a lot of insulation, an air conditioner, and a CoolBot. The CoolBot keeps the air conditioner going to a lower temperature than air conditioners are programmed to go (no one wants their house to be a fridge!). Using the air conditioner with the CoolBot is a much more affordable way to keep our vegetables in good condition than a compressor unit.
Harvest mornings (and market days) are the culmination of our week’s work. This is the day we see our vegetables as food (rather than beautiful plants we’re trying to keep healthy and alive) and we get excited to share that food with others.