Thursday, December 19, 2013

Assessing the Damage

Smelly decaying dinosaur kale
Walking up to SAGE today there was still a stench to the area.  Not as strong as last week when the snow started to melt, but still distinct.   It's the smell of decaying brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc).  I'm not sure how many people know that smell, but it is unique and in an odd way I love that I recognize it.  I know what different crops smell like as they're decomposing and I love that fact.  I know that sounds weird, but there's a comfort to being so familiar with the plants I partner with and it's also a solid reminder that there is no hiding from the cycle of life and death in farming.

Looking good!

Right now the biggest causality at SAGE is the dinosaur (lacinato or black) kale.  Big and beautiful just a few weeks ago, it is now drooping, a putrid yellow color and smelly.  Luckily most of the Red Russian kale survived and is now a beautiful deep purple after all the cold.  The choi greens (bok, joi, pak), mustard, leeks and chard (protected under Reemay row cover) all survived the cold relatively well (they're alive).   Beets hidden in the insulating qualities of the soil are beautiful and will soon be harvested for Stone Soup.  I appreciate that some things made it through.

Chard, safe under protective Reemay

There are some major bummers we're facing. We'll miss having so many kale plants to harvest from this winter as that was a staple of the produce we delivered, twice a week, to hunger relief agencies last winter.  Patience, another lesson of farming, will now be our practice as we wait for the plants  that survived to bounce back before we start harvesting again. This is the season when fresh food is in short supply at hunger relief agencies, but when demand is still high.  So we'll continue working, with freezing fingers and bright red noses, to do all we can with what we have as we refine the varieties we grow, contemplate the crop protection we utilize and drum up support and resources for protective structures like hoophouses.

Thanks for your support through the winter and please don't shy away from visiting SAGE simply because of the's something to be experienced and brings a better understanding of the reality of growing food (at least that's what I tell myself!).

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