This week, I talked to George O'Neal, owner of Lil Farm in Timberlake about the effects that the extremely cold weather that came with Polar Vortex had on his farm. George told me that, despite efforts to protect his crops with extra row cover (think, blankets for vegetables), he lost a lot of his tender crops - lettuce, fennel, cilantro and asian greens.
Growing vegetables in the winter time is certainly a risky business. Most years around the Triangle, the temperature stays warm enough for many crops to survive and thrive and in those years the risk pays off. With some extra work and infrastructure, farmers that didn't have much of a revenue stream in the winter are able have some income in the winter. But, farmers also know that a short period of extremely cold weather can wipe out crops and months of hard work over night.
George told me that the crops that he lost a couple of weeks ago were ones that he had planned to harvest in late January and early February. After the 4 degree low that he had on his farm, the little heads of broccoli and romanesco cauliflower that were starting to form got burned pretty badly. They had been growing in his greenhouse and he tried his best to protect them from the freeze along with his other crops. He had planned to start harvesting them next week. But, he says, "They were a gamble to begin with."
So, if you are ever at Market and wonder why the selection is different this year than it has been in years past at the same time, ask a farmer. They will likely point to a weather event or pattern from a few months back, that most people have forgotten about. But, because they are still feeling the effects from it, they remember it vividly.
When I was talking to George, he pointed to one possible silver lining of the Polar Vortex. "Supposedly, it will help to cut down on the invasive pest and bug populations," he told me. "But, we won't know for a couple of months."
See you at the Market,
VEGETABLES: Arugula, Asian Greens, Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Chinese Cabbage, Cress, Collards, Daikon Radish, Dandelion Greens, Delicata Squash, Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, Escarole, Fennel, Fresh & Dried Herbs (Cilantro, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley), Frisee, Garlic, Green Onions, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Potatoes, Pea Shoots, Pumpkins, Radishes, Rutabega, Salad Mix, Spaghetti Squash, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Sweet Potatoes, Turmeric, Greenhouse Grown Tomatoes, Turnips, Turnip Greens, Winter Squash, and more
MEATS AND EGGS: PORK, Beef, Quail, Lamb & Mutton, Bison, Chicken, Duck, Goat/Chevon/Cabrito, Veal, Rabbit, Duck Eggs & Chicken Eggs
CHEESES: Fresh and aged COW and GOAT milk cheeses.
PLANTS: Bedding Plants, and House Plants.
FLOWERS: A FEW Anemones, Mixed Bouquets, Dried Bouquets
SPECIALTY ITEMS: Gluten Free Baked Goods, Raw & Creamed Honey, Pasta, Flour, Cornmeal, Grits, Baked Goods including Pies, Breads, Cookies & Pastries, Fermented Foods, Beer, Wine, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Preserves, Wool
CRAFTS: Pottery, Woodwork, Photographs, Hand-dyed Clothing and other items, Handmade Clothing, Goats Milk Soaps, Body Butters, Lotions, Yarn, Roving, and much more...
Produce availability depends on weather conditions