By Emily Meagher
Walking around a farmers’ market, you see tables neatly displayed with mountains of produce. There is a long journey before produce lands on market tables and then, eventually, your table. Farmers are on a tight schedule to do all they can to make sure their crops flourish. Now that we are deep into winter, we asked local farmers how they are preparing for this year’s growing season.
Laurie Kokinda, owner of Kokinda Farm, says, “It’s the hardest time of year, in terms of grunt work.” Farms are working tirelessly to sanitize their greenhouses and tunnels and repair and order new equipment. Farms are starting their first seedings like tomatoes, alliums, and head lettuce. This year, many farmers ordered their seed supply earlier than usual due to Coronavirus-related increases in demand as well as mail delays. Paul and Sandy Arnold, owners of Pleasant Valley Farm, note, “Normally, we can get seeds in the day after we order. This year, we’re waiting weeks!”
Local farms often choose to work together to share resources. Pleasant Valley Farm’s Sustainable Farmers’ Network Group is hard at work in the mid-winter, bulk-ordering supplies so that farms may share discounts. Gomez Veggie Ville works with Denison Farm to get this year’s supply of organic potato seeds. And, for the first time, they will work to grow ginger. “I am learning how to grow ginger well in our climate. Hopefully, if it works out, we’ll be able to bring some to the market in September,” says Efrain Gomez.
Owl Wood Farm is taking this year’s seed shortages as an opportunity to try a new practice: seed saving. “We’ve wanted to save seeds that aren’t offered commercially, like tomato heirloom varieties and Abenaki flint corn, for a while. It involves a lot of work and isn’t very economical; you have to dedicate a new plot of land and grasp a whole new knowledge base,” says Mark Bascom. “But we see that seed saving is important this year especially.”
Squash Villa Farm (formerly Squashville) is trying not just a new crop or practice but also a whole new land plot after moving farms in 2020. “There’s lots of anticipation! As soon as the snow melts, I’m eager to walk the new land and just get a feel for what it’s like to step into the soil,” says Himanee Gupta-Carlson.
This week’s recipe: Beans and Greens