Everyone who has gardened understands the process of bringing fresh food from the garden to the kitchen, but how about gardening for 2,000 families? Now it becomes more about farming than gardening. The harvest process consumes the week. We begin harvesting for the delivery on Friday. That means we harvest Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for Thursday’s delivery. So how do we keep your vegetables fresh for 4 days? We have 5 coolers, all able to be climate controlled for temperature and humidity. One very important step in the harvest process is how the vegetables are treated as soon as they are picked. Vegetables don’t want to be exposed to sun and warmth after being harvested. We harvest early in the morning when it’s cool, immediately put the crates of harvested vegetables in a covered truck, get them back to the packing shed as fast as possible and then cool them down quickly. This cooling process takes different forms depending on the vegetable. Some vegetables are placed in tubs of cold water to remove the field heat, others are put directly into coolers. Right now all of the coolers are set at 34 degrees. Burr, that’s what most vegetables want. When we begin harvesting the summer vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, beans) they will want 45-50 degrees, so one cooler will be set to accommodate them. The process of cooling down the vegetables is really important for the quality of the vegetable. So when you see a truck of sweet corn exposed to full sun, it’s not doing that corn any good. That corn would rather be in a 34 degree cooler.

Stacks of scallions, garlic scapes, turnips and broccoli.

Stacks of scallions, garlic scapes, turnips and broccoli.

Potatoes, kohlrabi, lettuce heads and escarole in another cooler.

Potatoes, kohlrabi, lettuce heads and escarole in another cooler.

Strawberries filling another cooler. We leave the lids open for at least a day to help dry the berries. Our harvest conditions were somewhat wet this week. They will keep better if dry.

Strawberries filling another cooler. We leave the lids open for at least a day to help dry the berries. Our harvest conditions were somewhat wet this week. They will keep better if dry.

Harvesting escarole and kohlrabi. (Barb, Tom and Chris)

Harvesting escarole and kohlrabi. (Barb, Tom and Chris)