Friday, November 1, 2013

This Week at the South Durham Farmers' Market

This Week at the Farmers' Market

  • 8am-Noon at Greenwood Commons 5410 Highway 55 Durham, NC 27713
  • Education by Kelly McMullen on GMos
  • Music by Victoria Petermann on guitar with vocals
  • In season: squash, carrots, potatoes, greens, radishes, onions, garlic, broccoli and more!

The Farmers' Plot
While we may be enjoying the fruits of the autumn harvest and are ready to let our clocks fall back this weekend, farmers are springing ahead, preparing now for crops that won’t be realized until April or later. They have been busy all October restoring their soil, planting fruits and vegetables for overwintering and sowing cover crops.  And, all this work needs to get done before the ground begins to frost regularly.

The land has been providing nutrients all spring and summer to feed the hungry tomatoes, peppers, squash, and other ravenous warm weather plants. In order to do it all over again next year, the tilth of the soil needs to be restored. Our farmers are adding lots of mulched organic matter consisting of shredded vegetation, manure, compost and even fallen leaves. Mulch enriches the soil with nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, increases soil moisture and creates a hospitable environment for beneficial microbes. As they mulch, the farmers are rebuilding and tidying their raised beds, making sure the soil is not too compact and remains properly aerated.

 Once their rows are ready, farmers plant crops that can overwinter, ensuring that they will have fruits and vegetables ready for market in early spring. Down 2 Earth and Vollmer Farm have already been energetically planting their strawberries for next year. Our floral vendors, like Sassafras Fork and McAdams, are also occupied with spring planning. They must inter their flowering bulbs before the ground is too hard for the bulb to develop a root system. Parker Farm & Vineyard and Open Door Farm are doing the same with their garlic cloves and onions.

And, if there are any unoccupied beds, our farmers have already seeded them with cover crops like clover, rye and oats, which have by now germinated. Cover crops are sometimes intended for consumption, but more often they simply make the nitrogen in the soil more accessible, prevent erosion and reduce weed takeover. Once the farmer is ready to plant again, the cover crop is raked back into the earth, providing one last service as it decomposes and further enriches the soil.

After all this hard work, our farmers still get up early on Saturday and come to market. At least they too will get an extra hour of sleep this weekend.

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